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Pencil sketch by Moira Gutteridge

Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus


Harvard B.A., 1961 (Physics)
Indiana University M.A.,  1965 (History and Philosophy of Science)
Indiana University Ph.D., 1971 (History and Philosophy of Science)


Possible Worlds: An Introduction to Logic and Its Philosophy.  Co-authored with Raymond Bradley.  (Indianapolis: Hackett), first published 1979.  The fourth printing with corrections, 2010 – Copyright © Raymond Bradley and Norman Swartz – may be downloaded for free.

The Concept of Physical Law.  (New York: Cambridge University Press), 1985.  The second edition, 2003 – Copyright © Norman Swartz – may be downloaded for free.

Beyond Experience: Metaphysical Theories and Philosophical Constraints. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 1991. The second edition, 2001 – Copyright © Norman Swartz – may be downloaded for free.

Philosophical Notes

You might like to peruse my page of philosophical notes, miscellaneous lectures, papers, etc., that I have distributed to students over the years. As well, I have also assembled a collection of material written by others, that I have found to be fun, and informative, to read.


Up till the time I was a senior in high school, I was determined to become an electrical engineer. But in my senior year, my brother who was studying physics in university, convinced me that jobs would be easier to find for physicists than for engineers. And so I changed directions, and studied physics in university. I was well on my way to becoming a physicist when, in my third year, I took an introductory philosophy course as an elective. I wonder if there ever was a student who knew less about what philosophy is! I hadn't the remotest clue what philosophers thought about. That philosophy course was a revelation. For the first time in my life I discovered that other persons, indeed one hundred generations of thinkers, had been discussing the issues which kept intruding into my thinking. I was totally hooked. As soon as I graduated, I switched directions again, that second and last time from physics to philosophy. I would have been a contented engineer (even now I love to tinker with electronics and do some occasional carpentry and plumbing); I would have been a contented physicist; but I have never regretted abandoning those pursuits for philosophy.

     Why have I read, written, and taught philosophy? At bottom, the answer is very simple: because for me it has been so much fun. I have pursued certain philosophical issues – most especially the nature of time and space, personal identity, laws of nature, and free will – because they fascinate me. It's just my nature. There's no value judgment attached. Other persons like sports; others, reading novels; others, playing the real estate market; etc. Each to their own. I don't for a moment believe that students ought to like philosophy. Those that do, fine; those that do not, equally fine.

     Actually I'll let you in on a public secret. Above all, I would have preferred to have been a musician. I am incredibly jealous of fine musicians. I would willingly give my right arm to be a concert violinist. But it's not to be: I can enjoy music rapturously; but I cannot make music. (I've tried; it's hopeless. And so I have been a philosopher.) My heros are Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Verdi, Puccini, Prokofiev, and the inimitable (and sorely missed) Glenn Gould.

     No one is solely a philosopher. I have been a philosopher by profession; I earned my living by writing and teaching philosophy. But I am also a husband, a father and grandfather, a son, and a brother – on all of which I lavish time and affection. And for the last ten years or more, especially in the time since I retired in 1998, I have been active in fighting purveyors of hate and have been doing volunteer work within, and for, a number of human rights and charitable organizations.

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