I was born in Enfield, UK, and educated at Winchmore School, a large comprehensive in North London. I was an undergraduate at Keele University (1978-82), where, after completing Keele’s then renowned Foundation Year, I read Philosophy and Russian Studies, working principally with Jonathan Dancy in Philosophy and Eugene Lampert in Russian. After graduating, I spent the 1982-83 academic year in Moscow where I was funded by the British Council to conduct research on the philosophical culture of the Soviet Union. I was lucky to have excellent contacts among Russian philosophers and psychologists who bravely helped me in my “field work”, notwithstanding the fact that the Soviet authorities usually frowned upon Soviet academics associating with foreigners. When I returned to Britain, I began graduate work in Oxford under the supervision of John McDowell. I was a graduate student at Balliol College (1983-85) before joining the faculty as Junior Research Fellow in Philosophy and Junior Dean at Exeter College (1985-88). After completing my doctoral studies, I took up an assistant professorship in the interdisciplinary Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego, where there was interest in Russian psychology. In 1990, I left UCSD when my wife, Christine Sypnowich, and I were both offered positions in the Philosophy Department at Queen’s. I attained the rank of Professor in 2000, becoming Head of Department later the same year. I served two terms as Head, completing the second in June 2011. In 2001-02, I held a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford. In 2003, I was appointed to a three-year Honorary Chair in the School of Education at the University of Birmingham, UK, and became a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). In 2006, I was made Charlton Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s, and in 2008, I was appointed to a Visiting Professorship at the Institute of Education of the University of London, a position I continue to hold.
Christine and I live in a house, built in 1820, on the Cataraqui River in the village of Barriefield, just outside Kingston. We have two grown-up children, Rosemary and Hugh. We also have two Siamese cats, Luna and Kolya. Beyond family and philosophy, my interests include wine, music, and sport, particularly soccer. I avidly follow the fortunes of Tottenham Hotspur, and try to make an annual pilgrimage to White Hart Lane, which I frequented regularly as a boy. Because of Hugh’s interest in hockey, I have come to share his devotion to the Toronto Maple Leafs. To support two teams that promise much and deliver little is, I suppose, good for one’s character, though has little else to recommend it, save the constant prospect of things getting better.