Harvey Cormier


Associate Professor
Ph.D. Harvard University, 1992
M.A. University of Houston, 1982
B.A. University of Houston, 1982

Harriman Hall 237
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3750
Tel: (631) 632-7570

Areas of Interest

Kantian ethics; Nietzschean arguments against morality; pragmatic ethics; animal rights; justifications for affirmative action; realistic, idealistic, and pragmatic theories of truth; concepts of knowledge and objectivity connected with these; pragmatism versus neo-pragmatism; philosophy and literature, Nelson Goodman's and Arthur Danto's philosophies of art, Marx-influenced theories of art and culture; ancient skepticism and stoicism; "Black philosophy" and arguments for the reality of "race" and against individualism; Cornel West's "prophetic pragmatism"; Peter Singer's comparisons of racism with "speciesism"


Harvey Cormier's dissertation was on the work of the psychologist and pragmatist philosopher William James. His work since then has taken on diverse subject matters such as Cornel West's Marx-influenced criticisms of James; Nietzsche on freedom and selfhood; the idea that Henry James the novelist was a pragmatist like his brother William; and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey considered as a work of modernist art. Cormier's book, The Truth Is What Works: William James, Pragmatism, and the Seed of Death (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), attributes to James the "Forrest Gump theory of truth," or the simple but profound idea that truth, like stupidity, is as it does or tends to do. Cormier thinks that this Darwinian "functionalist" approach to epistemology is the best one, and he is interested in the bearing of this idea on questions concerning psychology, evolution, human identity, and morality.

Recent Publications

  • Introduction to Early Critics of Pragmatism: Volume Three: Truth on Trial, by Paul Carus (1911; Thoemmes Press; rpt. March 2001) 
  • The Truth Is What Works; Or, Pragmatism and the Seed of Death (Rowman and Littlefield; Spring 2000) 
  • 'Nietzsche for Determinists', International Studies in Philosophy, Fall 1999 
  • 'Jamesian Pragmatism and Jamesian Realism', The Henry James Review, Fall 1997 
  • 'Pragmatism, Politics, and the Corridor', in The Cambridge Companion to William James, R. A. Putnam, ed. (Cambridge U. P., 1997) 
  • '2001, Modern Art, and Modern Philosophy', in Philosophy and Film, Freeland and Wartenburg, eds. (Routledge, 1995)

Curriculum Vitae

Upcoming Events

Don Ihde Distinguished Alumni Award

September 15th, 4 pm

Terry Pinkard
"Hegel's History of Metaphysics"



September 29th, 4 pm

Georgia Warnke, University of California, Riverside
"Historical Understanding and the 'Blemish of Extraordinary Moral Legacies'"



October 12th, 4 pm

Klaus Vieweg, Jena University
"The Concept of Action in Hegel's Practical Philosophy and Aesthetics"


Dissertation Defense

October 13th, 11 am

Miles Hentrup
"Once Again from the Beginning: On the Relationship of Skepticism and Philosophy in Hegel's System"



October 25th, 5 pm

Adam Cureton, University of Tennessee
"Offensive Beneficence"



November 10th, 10:30 am

Karmen MacKendrick, LeMoyne Collge 
"Ancient Mysticisms, New Materialism, and Strange Entanglements"



November 10th, 4:30 pm

Cynthia Willett, Emory University
"Affect Attunement: Interspecies Ethics"


Dissertation Defense

November 17th, 4:45 pm
Stony Brook Manhattan

Oli Stephano
"Immanent Ecologies: Ethics, Power, and Persistence"





Department of Philosophy      Harriman Hall 213, Stony Brook, NY 11794     Phone: (631) 632-7570
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