John Morrison


I am an assistant professor of philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. I received my PhD from NYU in 2009. This semester I am teaching the Barnard senior seminar, and a graduate course with Don Garrett on Spinoza's metaphysics (syllabus).

In March 2015 I was on MSNBC to talk about the color of "the dress": clip


My research is primarily in the philosophy of mind and the history of modern philosophy (esp. the seventeenth century). I also have strong secondary interests in metaphysics, medieval philosophy, and the philosophy of language.

I am currently working on three projects. The first is about how our perceptions manage to provide us with information. I argue that they provide us with information about properties, such as redness, because of the information they provide us about the differences and similarities between objects, thereby reversing the traditional order of explanation. I call this Perceptual Structuralism. The second is about uncertainty and perception. I argue that our perceptions often provide us with probabilistic information. I call this Perceptual Confidence. Like the first project, this project draws heavily on empirical psychology, particularly psychophysics and cognitive psychology. The third project is about the foundations of Spinoza's metaphysics. I hope to unravel his claims about minds, bodies, God, and their essences.

Perceptual Structuralism

"Colour in a Physical World,"
Mind (2012), final, appendix

"Anti-Atomism about Color Representation,"
Noûs (2015), final

"Triangulating How Things Look,"
Mind & Language (2015), final

"Perceptual Variation and Structuralism,"
Noûs, forthcoming, penultimate

"Perceptual Variation and Relativism," draft

"Perceptual Variation and Ignorance," draft

Perceptual Confidence

"Perceptual Confidence,"
Analytic Philosophy (2016), final
*Winner of the 2015 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Mind

"Perceptual Confidence and Categorization"
Analytic Philosophy (2017), final

Spinoza's Metaphysics

"Conception and Causation in Spinoza's Metaphysics,"
Philosophers' Imprint (2013), final

"Restricting Spinoza's Causal Axiom,"
Philosophical Quarterly (2015), final

"Truth in the Emendation,"
The Young Spinoza, Melamed (ed.) (2015), final

"Two puzzles about Thought and Identity in Spinoza"
Cambridge Critical Guide to Spinoza's Ethics, Melamed (ed.) (2017), final

"Three Medieval Aristotelians on Numerical Identity and Time," draft

"Descartes and Spinoza on Numerical Identity and Time," draft

"Spinoza on Mind, Body, and Numerical Identity," draft


Review of Valtteri Viljanen's Spinoza's Geometry of Power, British Journal for the History of Philosophy (2013), final

Review of De Rosa's Descartes and the Puzzle of Sensory Representation (with Elliot Paul), Mind (2014), final

John Morrison


jmorrison [at]

Barnard Faculty Profile

Columbia Faculty Profile


September, 2017

PhD Students

Vincent Legeay (Paris 1, committee)

James Schelberg (Johns Hopkins, committee)

Simon Brown (Columbia, committee)

Jorge Morales (Columbia, advisor)

Jeremy Wolos (Columbia, advisor, PhD 2016)