J. J. C. Smart

John Jamieson Carswell "Jack" Smart AC (16 September 1920 – 6 October 2012[1]) was an Australian philosopher and academic, and was appointed as an Emeritus Professor by the Australian National University. He worked in the fields of metaphysics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy. He wrote multiple entries for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.[2][3]

John Jamieson Carswell Smart
JJC Smart
Born16 September 1920
Died6 October 2012 (aged 92)[1]
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Australian realism
Main interests
Philosophy of mind, metaphysics, philosophy of science, philosophy of time, political philosophy, philosophy of religion
Notable ideas
Mind–brain identity theory, rate of passage argument


Born in Cambridge, England of Scottish parents, Smart began his education locally, attending The Leys School, a leading independent boarding school. His younger brothers also became professors: Alastair (1922–1992) was Professor of Art History at Nottingham University; Ninian was a professor of Religious Studies and a pioneer in that field. Their father, William Marshall Smart, was John Couch Adams Astronomer at Cambridge University and later Regius Professor of Astronomy at Glasgow. In 1950, W. M. Smart was President of the Royal Astronomical Society. In 1946, Jack Smart graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MA, followed by a BPhil from Oxford University in 1948. He then worked as a Junior Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford for two years.

He arrived in Australia in August 1950 to take up the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Adelaide, which he occupied from 1950 until 1972. After twenty-two years in Adelaide, he moved to La Trobe University where he was Reader in Philosophy from 1972–76. He then moved to the Australian National University where he was Professor of Philosophy in the Research School of Social Sciences from 1976 until his retirement in 1985, and where the annual Jack Smart Lecture is held in his honour.[4] Following his retirement he was Emeritus Professor at Monash University.

Smart was a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities at its establishment in 1969. In 1990 he was awarded the Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia.[5] In 1991 he was elected to become an honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford University and in 2010, elected to become an honorary Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford.[5]

At first Smart was a behaviourist before becoming an early proponent of Type Identity Theory.[6]


Smart's main contribution to metaphysics is in the area of philosophy of time. He has been an influential defender of the B-Theory of time, and of perdurantism.

His most important original arguments in this area concern the passage of time, which he claimed is an illusion. He argued that if time really passed, then it would make sense to ask at what rate it passes, but this requires some second time-dimension with respect to which passage of normal time can be measured. This in turn faces the same problems, and so there must be a third time-dimension, and so on.[7] This is called the rate of passage argument.

Smart has changed his mind about the nature and causes of the illusion of the passage of time. In the 1950s, he held that it was due to people's use of anthropocentric temporal language. He later came to abandon this linguistic explanation of the illusion in favour of a psychological explanation in terms of the passage of memories from short-term to long-term memory.

Philosophy of mind

Regarding the philosophy of mind, Smart was a physicalist. In the 1950s, he was also one of the originators, with Ullin Place, of the mind–brain identity theory, which claims that particular states of mind are identical with particular states of the brain. Initially, this view was dubbed "Australian materialism" by its detractors, in reference to the stereotype of Australians as down-to-earth and unsophisticated.

Smart's identity theory dealt with some extremely long-standing objections to physicalism by comparing the mind–brain identity thesis to other identity theses well-known from science, such as the thesis that lightning is an electrical discharge, or that the morning star is the evening star. Although these identity theses give rise to puzzles such as Gottlob Frege's puzzle of the Morning Star and Evening Star, in the scientific cases, some claim that it would be absurd to reject the identity theses on this ground. Since the puzzles facing physicalism are strictly analogous to the scientific identity theses, it would then also be absurd to reject physicalism on the grounds that it gives rise to these puzzles.


In ethics, Smart was a defender of utilitarianism. Specifically, he defended "extreme", or act utilitarianism, as opposed to "restricted", or rule utilitarianism. The distinction between these two types of ethical theory is explained in his essay Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism.[8]

Smart gave two arguments against rule utilitarianism. According to the first, rule utilitarianism collapses into act utilitarianism because there is no adequate criterion on what can count as a "rule". According to the second, even if there were such a criterion, the rule utilitarian would be committed to the untenable position of preferring to follow a rule, even if it would be better if the rule were broken, which Smart called "superstitious rule worship".[9]

Another aspect of Smart's ethical theory is his acceptance of a preference theory of well-being, which contrasts with the hedonism associated with "classical" utilitarians such as Jeremy Bentham. Smart's combination of the preference theory with consequentialism is sometimes called "preference utilitarianism".

Smart's arguments against rule utilitarianism have been very influential, contributing to a steady decline in its popularity among ethicists during the late 20th century. Worldwide, his defence of act utilitarianism and preference theory has been less prominent but has influenced philosophers who have worked or been educated in Australia, such as Frank Jackson, Philip Pettit, and Peter Singer.

One of Smart's two entries in the Philosophical Lexicon refers to his approach to the consequences of act utilitarianism: to "outsmart" an opponent is "to embrace the conclusion of one's opponent's reductio ad absurdum argument." This move is more commonly called "biting the bullet".


  1. ^ a b "J.J.C. (Jack) SMART Obituary: View J.J.C. SMART's Obituary by The Canberra Times". Tributes.canberratimes.com.au. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  2. ^ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mind-identity/
  3. ^ https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b Monash University Website Archived 21 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Identity Theory of Mind (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  7. ^ Smart, Jack. "River of Time". In Anthony Kenny (ed.). Essays in Conceptual Analysis. pp. 214–215.
  8. ^ J.J.C. Smart, "Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism", The Philosophical Quarterly, Oct. 1956, pages 344–354, based on a paper read to the Victorian Branch of the Australasian Association of Psychology and philosophy, Oct. 1955. Smart later stated that he made mistakes in this essay (for example, that probably maximizing benefit is not the same thing as maximizing probable benefit). However, perhaps because of this very fact, that is, perhaps because Smart did not fall prey to what might be called the "philosopher's disease" of attempting to be obsessively precise, this essay lays out a good clear, readable presentation of act utilitarianism.
  9. ^ J.J.C. Smart, "Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism", The Philosophical Quarterly, Oct. 1956, pages 344–354, based on a paper read to the Victorian Branch of the Australasian Association of Psychology and philosophy, Oct. 1955. Smart's views on rule utilitarianism have been challenged, for example by Alan Gibbard


  • J.J.C. Smart
    "Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism", The Philosophical Quarterly, Oct. 1956, pages 344–354.
    An Outline of a System of Utilitarian Ethics, 1961.
    Philosophy and Scientific Realism, 1963.
    Problems of Space and Time, 1964 (edited, with introduction).
    Between Science and Philosophy: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, 1968.
    Utilitarianism : For and Against (co-authored with Bernard Williams; 1973)
    Ethics, Persuasion and Truth, 1984.
    Essays Metaphysical and Moral, 1987.
    Atheism and Theism (Great Debates in Philosophy) (including contributions by J.J. Haldane; 1996)
  • Who's Who in Australia 1990 0.1559 and http://hr.anu.edu.au/employment-at-anu/retirement-transitions/emeritus-professors
  • Pettit, Philip; Sylvan, Richard; Norman, Jean (editors); Metaphysics and Morality: Essays in Honour of J.J.C. Smart, 1987.
  • Franklin, James, Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia, 2003

External links

2012 in philosophy

2012 in philosophy

Australian realism

Australian realism, also called Australian materialism, is a school of philosophy that flourished in the first half of the 20th century in several universities in Australia including the Australian National University, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Sydney, and whose central claim, as stated by leading theorist John Anderson, was that "whatever exists … is real, that is to say it is a spatial and temporal situation or occurrence that is on the same level of reality as anything else that exists". Coupled with this was Anderson's idea that "every fact (which includes every “object”) is a complex situation: there are no simples, no atomic facts, no objects which cannot be, as it were, expanded into facts." Prominent players included Anderson, David Malet Armstrong, J. L. Mackie, Ullin Place, J. J. C. Smart, and David Stove. The label "Australian realist" was conferred on acolytes of Anderson by A. J. Baker in 1986, to mixed approval from those realist philosophers who happened to be Australian. David Malet Armstrong "suggested, half-seriously, that 'the strong sunlight and harsh brown landscape of Australia force reality upon us'".

Bachelor of Philosophy

Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil., B.Ph., Ph.B. or PhB; Latin Baccalaureus Philosophiae or Philosophiae Baccalaureus) is the title of an academic degree. The degree usually involves considerable research, either through a thesis or supervised research projects. Despite its name it is, in most universities, a postgraduate degree.

Bernard Williams

Sir Bernard Arthur Owen Williams, FBA (21 September 1929 – 10 June 2003) was an English moral philosopher. His publications include Problems of the Self (1973), Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985), Shame and Necessity (1993), and Truth and Truthfulness (2002). He was knighted in 1999.

As Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Deutsch Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, Williams became known for his efforts to reorient the study of moral philosophy to psychology, history, and in particular to the Greeks. Described by Colin McGinn as an "analytical philosopher with the soul of a general humanist," he was sceptical about attempts to create a foundation for moral philosophy. Martha Nussbaum wrote that he demanded of philosophy that it "come to terms with, and contain, the difficulty and complexity of human life."Williams was a strong supporter of women in academia; according to Nussbaum, he was "as close to being a feminist as a powerful man of his generation could be." He was also famously sharp in conversation. Gilbert Ryle, one of Williams's mentors at Oxford, said that he "understands what you're going to say better than you understand it yourself, and sees all the possible objections to it, and all the possible answers to all the possible objections, before you've got to the end of your own sentence."

Duration (philosophy)

Duration (French: la durée) is a theory of time and consciousness posited by the French philosopher Henri Bergson. Bergson sought to improve upon inadequacies he perceived in the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, due, he believed, to Spencer's lack of comprehension of mechanics, which led Bergson to the conclusion that time eluded mathematics and science. Bergson became aware that the moment one attempted to measure a moment, it would be gone: one measures an immobile, complete line, whereas time is mobile and incomplete. For the individual, time may speed up or slow down, whereas, for science, it would remain the same. Hence Bergson decided to explore the inner life of man, which is a kind of duration, neither a unity nor a quantitative multiplicity. Duration is ineffable and can only be shown indirectly through images that can never reveal a complete picture. It can only be grasped through a simple intuition of the imagination.Bergson first introduced his notion of duration in his essay Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness. It is used as a defense of free will in a response to Immanuel Kant, who believed free will was only possible outside time and space.


Endurantism or endurance theory is a philosophical theory of persistence and identity. According to the endurantist view, material objects are persisting three-dimensional individuals wholly present at every moment of their existence, which goes with an A-theory of time. This conception of an individual as always present is opposed to perdurantism or four dimensionalism, which maintains that an object is a series of temporal parts or stages, requiring a B-theory of time. The use of "endure" and "perdure" to distinguish two ways in which an object can be thought to persist can be traced to David Lewis.

Index of philosophy of mind articles

This is a list of philosophy of mind articles.

Alan Turing

Alexius Meinong

Anomalous monism

Anthony Kenny

Arnold Geulincx

Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness

Australian materialism

Baruch Spinoza

Biological naturalism

Brain in a vat

C. D. Broad

Chinese room



Consciousness Explained

Critical realism (philosophy of perception)

Daniel Dennett

David Hartley (philosopher)

David Kellogg Lewis

David Malet Armstrong

Direct realism

Direction of fit

Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit

Donald Davidson (philosopher)

Dream argument

Dualism (philosophy of mind)

Duration (Bergson)

Edmund Husserl

Eliminative materialism

Embodied philosophy

Emergent materialism

Evil demon

Exclusion principle (philosophy)

Frank Cameron Jackson

Fred Dretske

Functionalism (philosophy of mind)

G. E. M. Anscombe

Georg Henrik von Wright

George Edward Moore

Gilbert Harman

Gilbert Ryle

Gottfried Leibniz

Hard problem of consciousness

Henri Bergson

Hilary Putnam



Indefinite monism


Internalism and externalism

Intuition pump

J. J. C. Smart

Jaegwon Kim

Jerry Fodor

John Perry (philosopher)

John Searle

Karl Popper

Kendall Walton

Kenneth Allen Taylor

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Mad pain and Martian pain

Mental property

Methodological solipsism

Michael Tye (philosopher)


Mind-body dichotomy


Multiple Drafts Model

Multiple realizability

Naming and Necessity

Naïve realism


Neutral monism

Noam Chomsky

Parallelism (philosophy)

Personal identity


Philosophy of artificial intelligence

Philosophy of mind

Philosophy of perception


Pluralism (philosophy)

Privileged access

Problem of other minds

Property dualism

Psychological nominalism


Reflexive monism

René Descartes

Representational theory of mind

Richard Rorty

Ron McClamrock

Self (philosophy)

Society of Mind


Stephen Stich

Subjective idealism


Sydney Shoemaker

Tad Schmaltz

The Concept of Mind

The Meaning of Meaning

Thomas Nagel

Turing test

Type physicalism

Unconscious mind

Wilfrid Sellars

William Hirstein

William James

Index of sociopolitical thinkers

The following is an index of sociopolitical thinkers listed by the first name.

Jack Smart

Jack Smart is the name of:

Jack Smart (footballer), English footballer

Jack Smart (cricketer) (1891–1979), Warwickshire first-class cricketer and Test cricket umpire

J. Scott Smart (1902–1960), American actor

John Elliott Smart (1916–2008), Royal Navy officer

J. J. C. Smart (1920–2012), Australian philosopher

John McKellar Stewart

John McKellar Stewart (4 May 1878 – 25 April 1953), generally referred to as J. McKellar Stewart, was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Adelaide and its Vice-Chancellor from 1945 to 1948.

List of ethicists

List of ethicists including religious or political figures recognized by those outside their tradition as having made major contributions to ideas about ethics, or raised major controversies by taking strong positions on previously unexplored problems.

All are known for an ethical work or problem, but a few are primarily authors or satirists, or known as a mediator, politician, futurist or scientist, rather than as an ethicist or philosopher. Some controversial figures are included, some of whom you may see as bad examples. A few are included because their names have become synonymous with certain ethical debates, but only if they personally elaborated an ethical theory justifying their actions.

List of utilitarians

This is an incomplete list of advocates of utilitarianism and/or consequentialism.

Nomological danglers

Nomological danglers is a term used by Scottish-Australian philosopher J.J.C. Smart in his article Sensations and Brain Processes. He credits the term to Herbert Feigl and his article The "Mental" and the "Physical". It refers to the occurrence of something (in this case a sensation), which does not fit into the system of established laws. He thinks that systems in which such "nomological danglers would dangle" are quite odd. In his example the nomological danglers would be sensations such that are not able to be explained by the scientific theory of brain processes. Some mental entities for example in a phenomenological field, are not able to be found (and do not behave in the way that is expected) in physics. In the context Smart uses it, he is criticising dualism and epiphenomenalism as philosophies of mind, and the concerns over physical and causal laws they raise. Smart puts forward his own theory in the form of Materialism, claiming it is a better theory, in part because it is free from these nomological danglers, making it superior in accordance with Occam's Razor.


The concept of an otherworld in historical Indo-European religion is reconstructed in comparative mythology.

Its name is a calque of orbis alius (Latin for "other Earth/world"), a term used by Lucan in his description of the Celtic Otherworld.

Comparable religious, mythological or metaphysical concepts, such as a realm of supernatural beings and a realm of the dead, are found in cultures throughout the world. Spirits are thought to travel between worlds, or layers of existence in such traditions, usually along an axis such as a giant tree, a tent pole, a river, a rope or mountains.

Pain (philosophy)

Philosophy of pain may be about suffering in general or more specifically about physical pain. The experience of pain is, due to its seeming universality, a very good portal through which to view various aspects of human life. Discussions in philosophy of mind concerning qualia has given rise to a body of knowledge called philosophy of pain, which is about pain in the narrow sense of physical pain, and which must be distinguished from philosophical works concerning pain in the broad sense of suffering. This article covers both topics.

Peter Glassen

Peter Glassen (1920–1986) was a professor of philosophy at the University of Manitoba from 1949 until his death in 1986. He was previously (1948–49) a member of the psychology department at the University of Saskatchewan. He developed a considerable reputation as an analytic moral philosopher on the basis of a number of articles published in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was also known for his arguments against metaphysical materialism.

Spectrum of theistic probability

Popularized by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, the spectrum of theistic probability is a way of categorizing one's belief regarding the probability of the existence of a deity.

The Philosophical Quarterly

The Philosophical Quarterly is a quarterly academic journal of philosophy established in 1950. It is published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Scots Philosophical Club and the University of St Andrews. The current editor-in-chief is Tim Mulgan. Every year the journal holds an Essay Prize.

Ullin Place

Ullin Thomas Place (1924–2000), usually cited as U. T. Place, was a British philosopher and psychologist. Along with J. J. C. Smart, he developed the identity theory of mind. He taught for some years in the Department of Philosophy in the University of Leeds.

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