About Professor A C Grayling

A C Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSL, FRSA is Master of New College of the Humanities, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. Until 2011 he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written and edited over thirty books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are The Good Book, Ideas That Matter, Liberty in the Age of Terror and To Set Prometheus Free.

For several years he wrote the ‘Last Word’ column for the Guardian newspaper and a column for the Times. He is a frequent contributor to the Literary Review, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Times Literary Supplement, Index on Censorship and New Statesman, and is an equally frequent broadcaster on BBC Radios 4, 3 and the World Service. He writes the ‘Thinking Read’ column for the Barnes and Noble Review in New York, is the Editor of Online Review London, and a Contributing Editor of Prospect magazine.

In addition he sits on the editorial boards of several academic journals, and for nearly ten years was the Honorary Secretary of the principal British philosophical association, the Aristotelian Society. He is a past chairman of June Fourth, a human rights group concerned with China, and is a representative to the UN Human Rights Council for the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He is a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, the Patron of the United Kingdom Armed Forces Humanist Association, a patron of Dignity in Dying, and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.

Anthony was a Fellow of the World Economic Forum for several years, and a member of its C-100 group on relations between the West and the Islamic world. He has served as a Trustee of the London Library and a board member of the Society of Authors. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2003 he was a Man Booker Prize judge, in 2010 was a judge of the Art Fund prize, and in 2011 the Wellcome Book Prize. He was the chairman of the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

He supports a number of charities including Plan UK, Greenpeace, Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty International and Freedom from Torture. He is also a sponsor of Rogbonko School in Sierra Leone.

His latest books are The God Argument (2013), Friendship (2013), The Challenge of Things (2015), and The Age of Genius (2016).

Anthony’s new book, War, was published in April 2017 by Yale University Press.


DPhil, Philosophy, University of Oxford (1981)

MA, Philosophy, University of Sussex (1976)

BA Hons, Philosophy, University of London (1975)

BA Hons, Philosophy, University of Sussex (1971)

Professional Affiliations

Aristotelian Society

Royal Academy of Arts

Royal Society of Literature


Professor A C Grayling's Research

Professor Grayling’s areas of research have lain principally in theory of knowledge, philosophical logic, and the history of ideas. In theory of knowledge his main focus has been the tradition of sceptical challenges to acquisition of empirical knowledge, questions of justification, and the perceptual and cognitive conditions for knowledge. In philosophical logic his concern has been concepts of truth and meaning, linguistic knowledge, and the debate between realist and anti-realist interpretations of semantic competence. In the history of ideas he has written about the rise of modern philosophy, the work of Descartes and Berkeley, the scientific revolution of the 17th Century, the Enlightenment, the evolution of conceptions of rights and liberties in the modern period, and the work of Russell, Wittgenstein and Quine in recent philosophy.



The History of Philosophy, 2019

Democracy and its Crisis, 2017

War, 2017

The Age of Genius, 2016

Humanism (ed with Andrew Copson), 2015

The God Argument, 2013

Scepticism and the Possibility of Knowledge, 2008

Towards the Light, 2007

Truth Meaning and Realism, 2007

Encyclopedia of British Philosophy (ed with N. Goulder an A. Pyle), 2006

Descartes, 2005

The Art of Always Being Right (Schopenhauer), 2004

What Is Good?, 2003

Introduction to Philosophical Logic 1982 3rd Ed, 1998

The Future of Moral Values, 1997

Philosophy: Further Through the Subject (ed), 1996

Russell, 1996

Philosophy: A Guide through the Subject  (ed), 1995

Wittgenstein, 1988

Berkeley: The Central Arguments, 1986

The Refutation of Scepticism, 1985


The Age of Genius, 2016

The Challenge of Things, 2015

Friendship, 2013

The Good Book, 2011

Thinking of Answers, 2010

Liberty in the Age of Terror, 2009

Ideas That Matter, 2009

Towards the Light, 2007

The Choice of Hercules, 2007

Among the Dead Cities, 2006

The Form of Things, 2006

The Heart of Things, 2005

The Mystery of Things, 2004

Herrick Lyrics of Love and Desire (ed), 2003

The Reason of Things, 2002

The Meaning of Things, 2001

The Quarrel of the Age, 2000

China: A Literary Companion (ed with Susan Whitfield), 1994

The Long March to the Fourth of June (with Xu Youyu), 1989

Selected Papers

‘Internal structure and essence’ Analysis, Volume 42 1982.

‘Meaning, Mind and Method’ Wittgenstein: Centenary Essays

(ed.) Philips-Griffiths CUP 1991.

‘Epistemology and Realism’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1991-2.

‘Transcendental Arguments’ in (eds.)Dancy and Sosa Blackwell Companion to Epistemology Blackwell 1992.

‘Perfect Speaker Theory’ in (eds.) Hill et. al., Studies in Reference and Meaning, Filosofia, 1995.

‘Concept Reference and Natural Kinds’ in Sense and Reference in (eds.) J.Biro et. al., Kluwer 1996.

‘Scepticism and Justification’ in Epistemology: Philosophy (ed) 1995

‘Epistemology’ Blackwell Companion to Philosophy eds. N. Bunnin and E. James Blackwell 1996.

‘Russell’s Transcendental Argument in On The Foundations of Geometry’ in (eds.) R. Monk and A. Palmer, Bertrand Russell and the Origins of Analytic Philosophy, Thoemmes, 1996

‘The Argument to Knowledge and Knowledge of the Past’

Bradley Studies Vol.3 No 1 Spring 1997.

‘Independence and Transcendence: The Independence Thesis and Realism’

Philosophical Studies XVI (Todai) 1998.

‘Consciousness’ (with Adam Zeman & A. Cowley ) Journal of Neurophysiology 1999

‘Naturalistic Assumptions’ in Orenstein A et. al. (eds.) Essays on Quine Kluwer 2000.

‘Ethics and Medical Ethics’ Zeman et. al. (eds.) Ethical Problems in Neurology 2000.

‘Berkeley’s Argument for Immaterialism’ in ed. Winkler K. Cambridge Companion to Berkeley Cambridge University Press 2001.

‘Wittgenstein on Scepticism and Certainty’ in Glock H. Essays on Wittgenstein Routledge 2001.

‘Russell, Experience, and the Roots of Science’

The Cambridge Companion to Russell, ed. Nicholas Griffin, 2003.

The following written 2003-6 for inclusion in Truth Meaning and Realism 2007

‘Assertion Truth and Evaluation’

‘Metaphysically Innocent Representation’

Truth and Evaluation’

‘Truth and Indefinability’

‘Publicity, Stability and “Knowing the Meaning”’

‘Understanding Realism’

‘On How Not To Be Realistic’

‘Evidence and Judgment’

Professor A C Grayling's Teaching

Professor Grayling’s teaching interests are:

Introduction to Philosophy

History of Modern Philosophy

Philosophical Logic



Logic and Critical Reasoning

Teaching Positions

Master of the New College of the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy (2011-present).

Supernumerary Fellow, St Anne’s College Oxford (1992 onwards)

Professor of Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London (2004-2011)

Reader in Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London (1999-2004)

Lecturer in Philosophy, Birkbeck College, London (1992-1999)

Lecture in Philosophy, St Anne’s College, Oxford (1982-1992)

Lecturer in Philosophy, Bedford College, London (1979-1981)

Professional Activity

Throughout his academic career Professor Grayling has engaged (a) in wide-ranging research and teaching in technical areas of philosophy, (b) philosophical pedagogy and professional activities, and (c) outreach in the form of contributions to public conversation about matters that benefit from the input of philosophical insights: public ethics, politics and government, education, social policy debates, and more.

Regarding (a) his teaching interests and competence cover the history of philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and the philosophy of language. In scholarship he has made substantive contributions to the study of Berkeley, Russell and Wittgenstein, to the problem of epistemological scepticism, and to the realism-anti-realism debate in philosophy of language. He has published extensively in monograph form and in the form of papers and articles, and is the editor of major scholarly encyclopaedia.

Regarding (b) he has both written and edited widely-used and very well known pedagogical works in philosophy, and in his role as Master of the New College of the Humanities has encouraged and developed the highest standards of teaching among colleagues.  For ten years from 1993-2003 he was the Honorary Secretary (in effect, the chief officer) of the Aristotelian Society, the principal philosophical society in the UK, and is a consulting editor on a number of journals in the UK and abroad.

Regarding (c) he has written books for a wide non-specialist readership on philosophical topics, contributed newspaper columns, broadcast, consulted on government and party political initiatives, and participated in the running of a number of civil society organisations such as the Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, Pen, and others.

Faculty Positions

Professor Grayling chairs the Academic Board and the College Liaison Committee, sits on the main Board, and ex officio on all College committees.