Richard Bett

Richard Bett

Professor of Philosophy

Contact Information

Research Interests: Ancient Greek philosophy

Education: PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Richard Bett specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, with a particular focus on ethics and epistemology. He also has interests in modern ethics and epistemology, as well as a significant side-interest in Nietzsche. He is the author of Pyrrho, his Antecedents and his Legacy (Oxford, 2000), and of translations of Sextus Empiricus' Against the Ethicists (Oxford, 1997, with introduction and commentary), Against the Logicians (Cambridge, 2005, with introduction and notes), Against the Physicists (Cambridge, 2012, with introduction and notes), and Against Those in the Disciplines (Oxford, 2018, with introduction and notes).  He is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Scepticism (2010). A collection of his essays, under the title How to be A Pyrrhonist, was published in 2019 (Cambridge). In 2021 he published How to Keep an Open Mind: An Ancient Guide to Thinking Like a Skeptic, a guided selection of Sextus Empiricus' writings for a general audience, in Princeton University Press's Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers series. He is currently working on a translation of Sextus Empiricus' Outlines of Pyrrhonism, which will also include commentary. He has published articles in Phronesis, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Apeiron, International Journal for the Study of Skepticism, and elsewhere (he is an editorial board member of the last two). His publications have been especially on ancient Greek skepticism (sometimes including comparisons with modern approaches to skepticism), but also include papers on the Stoics, Socrates, Plato, the Sophists, and Nietzsche. He spent 1994–95 as a Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, DC.  From January 2000 to June 2001, he was acting executive director of The American Philosophical Association, and from 2003-13 he was secretary-treasurer of its Eastern Division; since 2013 he has been Vice Chair of its Board of Officers.

Courses  Taught since 2018:

Introductory:
Introduction to Greek Philosophy
First-Year Seminar on Socrates and his Intellectual Context
Great Books (team-taught, interdisciplinary course)

Upper-level Undergraduate:
Majors' Seminar on Ancient Greek Ethics
Plato and his Predecessors
Aristotle
Hellenistic Philosophy
Except for the majors' seminar, these courses were also open to graduate students.

Graduate Seminars:
History of Skepticism (team-taught with Michael Williams)
Stoic Ethics

Some Forthcoming Articles

The Stoics and Carneades: Dialectic and the Holding of Views, forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of Hellenistic Philosophy, ed. Nathan Powers and Jacob Klein

Doing Things with Concepts in Sextus Empiricus, forthcoming in The Notion of Concept in Greek Philosophy, ed. Gábor Betegh and Voula Tsouna (Cambridge)

Skepticism in Rome, forthcoming in Early Christian Rome, edited by Jan Rüggemeier and Sabine Feist (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck - volume 1 of a multi-volume reference work, Early Christian Centers)

Papers Published since 2020:

“What is Ataraxia Like, and Why do Some Schools, and not Others, Aim for it?”, Sképsis, no.20 (2020), 1-19, online: https://www.skepsis.com.br

“Reply to my Commentators”, in book symposium on How to be a Pyrrhonist, Sképsis, no.20 (2020), 143-56, online: https://www.skepsis.com.br; see also “Précis of How to be a Pyrrhonist”, 100-105 in the same volume

“Reply to my Commentators, part 2”, Sképsis, no.21 (2020), 210-15, online: https://www.skepsis.com.br

“Echoes of Sextus Empiricus in Nietzsche?”, in Epistemology after Sextus Empiricus, ed. Justin Vlasits & Katja Vogt (Oxford, 2020), 271-91

 “Is Skepticism Natural? Ancient and Modern Perspectives”, in The Routledge Handbook of Hellenistic Philosophy, ed. Kelly Arenson (Routledge, 2020), 361-71; slightly different version in French (“Le scepticisme est-il natural? Perspectives antiques et modernes”), in Anthropologie sceptique et modernité, ed. Sylvia Giocanti (ENS Éditions, 2022), 37-49

“Prodicus”, in Early Greek Ethics, ed. David Wolfsdorf (Oxford, 2020), 195-210

 “Gorgias’ Περὶ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος and its Relation to Skepticism”, International Journal of Skeptical Studies 10 (2020), 187-208

“Common Sense in Ancient Greek Philosophy”, in The Cambridge Companion to Common Sense Philosophy, ed. Rik Peels & René van Woudenberg (Cambridge, 2021), 19-40

 “Thinking without Commitment: Two Models”, in Thought: A Philosophical History, ed. Panayiota Vassilopoulou & Daniel Whistler (Routledge, 2021), 253-65

 “Do the Ancients see Value in Humanity?”, in Rethinking the Value of Humanity, ed. Sarah Buss & Nandi Theunissen (Oxford, 2023), 48-73

“Nature and Norms”, in The Cambridge Companion to the Sophists, ed. Joshua Billings and Christopher Moore (Cambridge, 2023), 157-78

“The ancient Greek skeptics’ practice and its relation to truth”, in Practices of Truth in Philosophy: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, ed. Lorenzo Serini and Pietro Gori (Routledge, 2024), 24-41

See also the Faculty Books section.