Anthony Quinton

The Lord Quinton

Quinton in 1978 by Geoff Howard
Anthony Meredith Quinton

25 March 1925
Died 19 June 2010(2010-06-19) (aged 85)
United Kingdom
Occupation Philosopher

Anthony Meredith Quinton, Baron Quinton, FBA (25 March 1925 – 19 June 2010[1]) was a British political and moral philosopher, metaphysician, and materialist philosopher of mind.


Quinton was born at 5, Seaton Road, Gillingham, Kent, the only son of Royal Navy surgeon captain Richard Frith Quinton (1889–1935) and his wife (Gwenllyan) Letitia (née Jones).[2]

A fellow of All Souls, he became a Fellow of New College, Oxford, in 1955.[3] He was President of Trinity College, Oxford, from 1978 to 1987.[1]

Quinton was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1975 to 1976.[4] He was chairman of the board of the British Library from 1985 to 1990.[1]

In 1983[5], he was made a life peer to the barony "of Holywell in the City of Oxford and County of Oxfordshire".[6][7]

To BBC Radio audiences, Quinton became well known as a presenter of the long-running Round Britain Quiz.[1][3]


In the debate about philosophical universals, Quinton defended a variety of nominalism that identifies properties with a set of "natural" classes.[8] David Malet Armstrong has been strongly critical of natural class nominalism: Armstrong believes that Quinton's 'natural' classes avoid a fairly fundamental flaw with more primitive class nominalisms, namely that it has to assume that for every class you can construct, it must then have an associated property. The problem for the class nominalist according to Armstrong is that one must come up with some criteria to determine classes that back properties and those which just contain a collection of heterogeneous objects.[9][10]

Quinton's version of class nominalism asserts that determining which are the natural property classes is simply a basic fact that is not open to any further philosophical scrutiny. Armstrong argues that whatever it is which picks out the natural classes is not derived from the membership of that class, but from some fact about the particular itself.

While Quinton's theory states that no further analysis of the classes is possible, he also says that some classes may be more or less natural—that is, more or less unified than another class. Armstrong illustrates this intuitive difference Quinton is appealing to by pointing to the difference between the class of coloured objects and the class of crimson objects: the crimson object class is more unified in some intuitive sense (how is not specified) than the class of coloured objects.

In Quinton's 1957 paper, he sees his theory as a less extreme version of nominalism than that of Willard van Orman Quine, Nelson Goodman and Stuart Hampshire.[8]


His "shortest definition of philosophy"

His longer definition



Coat of arms of Anthony Quinton
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Quinton Escutcheon.png
A Coronet of a Baron
A Quintain proper
Argent a Tilting Spear in bend Sable Grip Butt and Coronal Or between two Bends also Sable and in chief three Roses Gules barbed and seeded proper and in base as many Martlets also Gules
Dexter: a Fox rampant proper; Sinister: a Griffin segreant per fess Azure and Or, both gorged with a Coronet Flory Or
Il Ose Aussi Douter (He dares also to doubt)


  1. ^ a b c d O'Grady, Jane (22 June 2010). "Lord Quinton obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Lord Quinton". The Telegraph. 21 June 2010. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  4. ^ Glover, Jonathan. "Anthony Meredith Quinton 1925–2010" (PDF). The British Academy.
  5. ^ "Lord Quinton". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Lord Quinton". The Times. 22 June 2010. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Lord Quinton: Oxford philosopher, public servant and acclaimed". The Independent. 25 June 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  8. ^ a b Quinton, Anthony (1957). "Properties and Classes". Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. 58: 33–58. JSTOR 4544588.
  9. ^ Armstrong, David Malet (1978). Universals and Scientific Realism: Nominalism & Realism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 40–45. ISBN 0521217415.
  10. ^ Armstrong, David Malet (1989). "2". Universals: An Opinionated Introduction. Westview Press. ISBN 0813307724.

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Alexander George Ogston
President of Trinity College, Oxford
Succeeded by
John Burgh

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