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The Australian National University

Professor Richard Campbell

AM, MA BD DPhil, FACE
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: (02) 6161 4305

Areas of expertise

  • Metaphysics 220309
  • History Of Philosophy 220210
  • Philosophy Of Religion 220315
  • Hermeneutic And Critical Theory 220307
  • Philosophical Psychology (Incl. Moral Psychology And Philosophy Of Action) 220311

Biography

Richard James Campbell, AM, was born in Sydney and educated at Fort Street Boys' High School and the Universities of Sydney and Oxford.  He graduated with a BA from the University of Sydney in 1959, with a BD with First Class Honours in Philosophical Theology in 1963, and an MA with First Class Honours in Philosophy in 1964.  He taught Philosophy at Sydney University in 1965 before going to Oxford.  He graduated with a DPhil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford in 1971.

He came to the ANU as a Lecturer in Philosophy in 1967, was promoted to Senior Lecturer (1972), to Reader (1980), and to Professor (1993).  He retired in 2003 and was appointed an Emeritus Professor.

1974 was spent in London on a Nuffield Fellowship.  He was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Cambridge in 1978 and 1982.  In 1982 he was also a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto.

Over the period 1970-85 he was involved in a range of activities to do with educational policy in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).  In 1971-2 he chaired a Ministerial Committee on College Proposals for the ACT. The report of this committee, Secondary Education for Canberra, has been fully implemented.  He served on the Interim ACT Technical and Further Education Authority in 1975-76, and served on a steering committee to establish the Canberra School of Art (inaugurated in 1977 and now part of the ANU) and to select its Foundation Director.

He was appointed to the new ACT Schools Authority in 1977, responsible to the Federal Minister for Education for all public schools in the ACT, prior to self-government in the ACT, and was its Chairman from mid-1979 until mid-1985.  In 1986 was installed by the Queen as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) "for services to education".

In 1976 and 1977 he was seconded from the Philosophy Department to a new position of Academic Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor, and in 1976 was elected a Fellow of the Australian College of Education.  He served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1990 until 1994, and as Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Board of The Faculties from 1994 until 1998. He then returned to teaching and research, and was from 2001 until his retirement Head of the School of Humanities within the Faculty of Arts.

Researcher's projects

In May 2100 I published a book, The Concept of Truth, arising from my earlier book on truth: Truth and Historicity.  I contend that all contemporary theories of truth are too narrow, because they assume that truth applies only to what is said.  Rather, I argue for a novel conception of truth, by showing how error is implicated in the actions of all living things; and by analyzing uses of 'true' in non-linguistic contexts.  This analysis explains why truth has normative force, and is highly valued.

In 2015 I had another book published which articulates the metaphysical underpinnings of this conception of truth.  It is called The Metaphysics of Emergence.  It argues for a processed-based ontology, as an alternative to the prevailing physicalist metaphysics, and explores the logic and identity of processes, and presenrts a taxonomy of natural kinds of process systems.  This leads to definitions of action and life, and an examination of human consciousness.  The book concludes with reflection on time, entropy, value, and causation.

I have a new book due to be published by Broll in early 2018, entitled Rethinking Anselm's Argument: A vindication of his Proof of the Existence of God.  It offers a new analysis of the tantalizing argument for the existence of God first promulgated by Anselm of Aosta, Bec, and Canterbury in 1078.  In 1946, I published a book called From Belief to Understanding, in which I argued that the seconday literature has fundamentally misunderstood the structure of this argument.  The current work continues to argue for the three-stage structure I then discerned, but will be much more than a second edition;  it involves engaging with much more recent literature and argues for a number of new positions on issues of translation, interpretaion, logic, and cogency.  I have been somewhat startled to recognize that, with the clarifications offered by two definitions (Essential Identity and 'Greater Than') recently proposed in a recent article by Gunter Eder & Esther Ramharter, the argument is not only formally valid, but all its premises are plausible!  Furthermore, I have been able to adapt an obscure argument Anselm presents in his Reply in order to show that the major premise with which he begins chapter 3 is entailed by the conclusion of chapter 2.  That therefore amounts to a demonstration that Anselm's argument for the existence of God is cogent, and that he was right to dismiss the parody of his argument (the 'Lost Island') presented by Gaunilo.

Publications

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Updated:  17 December 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers