Thomas Nagel was trained in philosophy, first at Cornell (B.A. 1958), then at Oxford, where he went on a Fulbright Scholarship (B. Phil. 1960), and then at Harvard (Ph.D. 1963). He has always worked in a wide range of areas of philosophy, but ethics and political and legal theory have been prominent among his concerns from the beginning. He has also written extensively about metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, the philosophy of mind, and the meaning of life. Nagel is interested in the direct application of moral theory to contemporary issues such as abortion, affirmative action, freedom of expression, and the laws of war, and he was one of the founding editors of the journal Philosophy & Public Affairs, which had a significant effect in bringing those concerns into the philosophical mainstream.
Every fall term, Professor Nagel teaches jointly with Ronald Dworkin the Colloquium in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory, which brings leading figures in those fields to NYU School of Law for discussion of their work in progress.
Nagel is the author of a number of books. Most of his interests are treated in The View From Nowhere, which explores the subjective/objective opposition in a number of areas of philosophy, from the mind-body problem and the theory of knowledge to free will, ethics, the meaning of life, and the significance of death. Equality and Partiality extends the analysis to issues of political theory, social justice, and individual rights. Nagel is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He has held fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford, the Alfred North Whitehead Lectures at Harvard, and the Storrs Lectures at Yale. He holds honorary doctorates from Oxford University, Harvard University, and the University of Bucharest, and is the recipient of a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in the Humanities, the Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Balzan Prize in Moral Philosophy.