David Armstrong

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David Malet Armstrong (b. 8 July 1926, Melbourne) is an Australian philosopher focused on epistemology, ontology and philosophy of mind. He is best known for his Materialist Theory of Mind, part of his materialist-physicalist project. Regarding properties, he defends an immanent realist conception of universals as the best way of understanding the interaction of particulars with laws of nature (in Universals: An Opinionated Introduction and the two-volume Universals and Scientific Realism). This fits into a more general project of defending the Wittgenstein-inspired notion of the world as a totality of states of affairs (in A World of States of Affairs). In epistemology, Armstrong is best known for his advocacy of an externalist theory of justification that requires a causal link between beliefs and the states of affairs that cause them (see Belief, Truth and Knowledge). Armstrong's philosophy hinges on a strongly affirmative view of science.

Armstrong was a student of Professor John Anderson at the University of Sydney and has stated that he is not tremendously interested in questions in the philosophy of language[1]. Although interested in questions of ethics and political philosophy, Armstrong has not written about this area in any depth. He has stated that he is a supporter of liberal democracy, but with a conservative edge, and has been inspired by the work of Michael Oakeshott.


Armstrong's epistemology is reliabilist - that is, Armstrong identifies knowledge as true belief with a reliable, law-like (nomic) relationship between knower and world.


  1. Armstrong declares his unofficial motto as being "Put semantics last", see Interview with David Armstrong from Matters of the Mind: Poems, Essays and Interviews in Honour of Leonie Kramer.