Susanne Bobzien, FBA is a German-born philosopher, whose research interests focus on philosophy of logic and language, determinism and freedom, and ancient philosophy. She currently is senior research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford and professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford.
Bobzien was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1960. She graduated in 1985 with an M.A. (Magister Artium) at Bonn University,
and in 1993 with a doctorate in philosophy (D.Phil.) at Oxford University.
Bobzien currently holds the position of senior research fellow at All Souls College, Oxford and is professor of philosophy at Oxford University. She was appointed to a senior professorship in philosophy at Yale in 2001 and held this position from 2002 to 2010. From 1993 to 2002 she had a tenured position at Oxford University. From 1990 to 2002, she was fellow and praelector in philosophy at The Queen's College, where she was the first woman to be appointed a tutorial fellow. Before that she was tutorial fellow in philosophy at Balliol College. Among her awards are a British Academy Research Readership (2000–2002), and a fellowship of the National Endowment for the Humanities (2008–09). In 2014 she was elected a fellow of the British Academy, the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and social sciences.
Bobzien has published several books and numerous articles in leading academic journals and collections.
Main contributions to philosophy
Determinism and freedom
Ancient philosophy: Bobzien's major work Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy is the first-full scale modern study of the Stoic theory of determinism; It explores in depth the views of the Stoics on causality, fate, the modalities, divination, rational agency, the non-futility of action, moral responsibility and the formation of character. In this book and in her articles "The Inadvertent Conception and Late Birth of the Free-Will Problem" and "Did Epicurus discover the Free-Will Problem?" Bobzien argues that the problem of determinism and free-will, as conceived in contemporary philosophy, was not considered by Aristotle, Epicurus or the Stoics, as was previously thought, but only in the 2nd century CE and as the result of a conflation of Stoic and Aristotelian theory.
Kant: Bobzien's "Die Kategorien der Freiheit bei Kant" (The Categories of Freedom in Kant) has been described as an article "that has long been the starting point for any German reader seeking to deepen his understanding of the second chapter of [the Analytic of Kant's Critique of Practical Reason]." It differentiates the main functions of Kant's Categories of Freedom: as conditions of the possibility for actions (i) to be free, (ii) to be comprehensible as free and (iii) to be morally evaluated.
Stoic Logic: Bobzien's book Die stoische Modallogik is the first monograph on Stoic modal logic. It presents a detailed picture of the Stoic theory of modality. In her paper "Stoic Syllogistic" Bobzien sets out the evidence for Stoic syllogistic. She argues that Stoic syllogistic should not be assimilated to standard propositional calculus, but rather treated as a distinct system which bears important similarities to relevance logic.
Deduction: Bobzien's paper "The Development of Modus Ponens in Antiquity" traces the earliest development of the most basic principle of deduction, i.e. modus ponens (or Law of Detachment).
Bobzien has proposed a logic of higher-order vagueness that avoids both the higher-order vagueness paradoxes and sharp boundaries of the borderline zone (columnar higher-order vagueness), has provided arguments for the existence of higher-order vagueness and has introduced the notion of borderline nestings.
Determinism and freedom
- Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy (Oxford 1998).
- "The Inadvertent Conception and Late Birth of the Free-Will Problem" (Phronesis 43, 1998).
- "Did Epicurus Discover the Free-Will Problem?" (Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 19, 2000).
- "Die Kategorien der Freiheit bei Kant" (in Kant: Analysen-Probleme-Kritik vol. 1, Würzburg 1988).
- Die stoische Modallogik (Würzburg 1986).
- "Stoic Syllogistic" (Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 14, 1996).
- "The Development of Modus Ponens in Antiquity" (Phronesis 47, 2002).
- "Higher-order Vagueness, Radical Unclarity, and Absolute Agnosticism" Philosophers' Imprint 10, 2010.
- "In Defense of True Higher-Order Vagueness" Synthese 180, 2011.
- "If it's Clear, then it's Clear that it's Clear, or is it? – Higher-Order Vagueness and the S4 Axiom" OUP 2012.
- "Higher-Order Vagueness and Borderline Nestings – a Persistent Confusion" Analytic Philosophy 54.1, 2013.