John Leslie Mackie (1917-1981) was a philosopher, originally from Sydney, Australia. From 1967 until his death, he was a fellow of University College, Oxford. He was in 1974 elected a fellow of the British Academy.
Interests and character
Mackie was well known for his contributions to the field of meta-ethics, where he took the position of moral skepticism, arguing against the objective existence of right and wrong on fundamental grounds concerning what kinds of things those must be, if they exist.
He was also well known for vigorously defending atheism, and arguing that the problem of evil made untenable the main monotheistic religions. Other areas to which he made significant contributions include the nature of causal relationships, and of conditional statements describing them.
John Mackie was a fundamentally pleasant man. He is said to have been capable of expressing total disagreement in such a genial way that the person being addressed might mistake the comment for a compliment. This personal style may be exemplified well by the following words from Mackie's preface to his Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong:
I am nowhere mainly concerned to refute any individual writer. I believe that all those to whom I have referred, even those with whom I disagree most strongly, have contributed significantly to our understanding of ethics: where I have quoted their actual words, it is because they have presented views or arguments more clearly or more forcefully than I could put them myself.
1938 Graduates from the University of Sydney
1938 Wentworth Travelling Fellowship to study Greats at Oriel College, Oxford
1940 Graduates with a first
1940-46 World War II army service
1946-54 Lectures at the University of Sydney in Moral and Political Philosophy
1955-59 Professor of Philosophy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
1959-63 Professor of Philosophy, University of Sydney
1963-67 Professor of Philosophy, York University
1967 Elected a fellow of University College, Oxford
1974 Elected a fellow of the British Academy
Truth, Probability, and Paradox (1973) Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198244029
The Cement of the Universe. A study of causation (1974) Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198246420
Problems from Locke (1976) Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198245556
Ethics. Inventing Right and Wrong (1977), Viking Press, ISBN 0140135588
Hume's Moral Theory (1980) Routledge Keegan & Paul, ISBN 0710005253
The Miracle of Theism. Arguments for and against the Existence of God (1982) Oxford University Press, ISBN 019824682X
Logic and Knowledge: Selected Papers, Volume I (1994) Oxford University Press, ISBN 019824679X
Persons and Values: Selected Papers, Volume II (1985) Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198246781