Michael Smith


If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


Distinguished Visiting Professor


Born and raised in Australia, Michael Smith studied philosophy at Monash University (1972-1979), and then became an English and Politics teacher at Melbourne Boys High School (1980-1981). After two years teaching high school, a Commonwealth Overseas Scholarship enabled him to continue his studies at Oxford University (1981-1984). While at Oxford, Smith read for the BPhil and DPhil in philosophy, working closely with R. M. HareJennifer Hornsby, and Simon Blackburn. Blackburn supervised his DPhil thesis, so his philosophy family tree traces back, via Blackburn, to Casmir Lewy, G. E. Moore, James Ward, Hermann Lotze, and Christian Hermann Weisse.

In 2004, Smith returned to teach at Princeton, where he was named McCosh Professor of Philosophy in 2009, and served as Chair of the Department 2012-18. (You can find out a little about McCosh's own philosophical work by readingDavid Sanford's very funny introduction when Smith gave the Claire Miller Lecture at Chapel Hill in 2011.) He is also Associated Faculty Member in theDepartment of Politics at Princeton. Smith was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013. In 2016 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award for the Faculty of Arts at Monash University. In 2017 he became Distinguished Visiting Focus Professor in Monash University Philosophy Department's Focus Program on Belief, Value, and Mind.

Smith's current research focuses on topics in ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of action, political philosophy, and philosophy of law. His John Locke Lectures, given at Oxford University in 2017, span all these topics, and those lectures will appear in due course under the title A Standard of Judgement. Smith is also the author of The Moral Problem (1994) (which won the American Philosophical Association Book Prize), and Ethics and the A Priori: Selected Essays on Moral Psychology and Meta-Ethics (2004) (which was the subject of an off-beat review by Constantine Sandis). He is also the co-author of Mind, Morality and Explanation: Selected Collaborations (2004), a collection of papers written in various combinations by Smith and his two long-time colleagues, Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit (whose collaborative work inspired David Estlund to make a morphing gif of the three of them).

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1994 2017

The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Love’s Reasons

Smith, M., 2017, Love, Reason and Morality. Engels Kroeker, E. & Schaubroeck, K. (eds.). New York NY USA: Routledge, p. 145-162 18 p. (Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

Romance and Responsibility in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”

Smith, M., 2016, In : Journal of Ethics. 20, 1-3, p. 317-339 23 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Free Will and Action

Smith, M., 26 Mar 2015, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioural Sciences: Second Edition. Academic Press, p. 404-408 5 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

Passions and Projections: Themes from the Philosophy of Simon Blackburn

Johnson, R. N. & Smith, M., 22 Jan 2015, Oxford University Press, USA. 288 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

The magic of constitutivism

Smith, M., Apr 2015, In : American philosophical quarterly. 52, 2, p. 187-200 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review