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Professor John R. Perry has made significant contributions to many areas of philosophy with special attention paid to the philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. He is known primarily for his work on situation semantics (together with Jon Barwise), reflexivity, indexicality, and self-knowledge. He is the Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus. He has served as Chair of the Philosophy Department and Director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), an independent research center founded in 1983.

He is also the author of over 100 articles and books, including A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality; Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness; and Reference and Reflexivity. In 2004, he became co-host, with Kenneth Taylor, of Philosophy Talk, the radio program that "questions everything... except your intelligence." He also produces non-technical work that reaches a wider audience, such as his humorous 1995 online essay "Structured Procrastination," arguably the Internet’s most popular essay on procrastination. He recently published a book on this topic called The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing.

Perry is past Vice President and President of the American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division). He is also member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recipient of many honors and awards, including the Nicod and Humboldt Prizes. A popular lecturer, in 1990 he was awarded Stanford’s Dinkelspiel Award for undergraduate teaching.

Key works

a weekly talk show

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling. Lollygagging, and Postponing. Workman Publishing, 2012. 

Knowledge, Possibility and Consciousness: the 1999 Jean Nicod Lectures.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2001.

Reference and Reflexivity.  CSLI Publications, 2001.

Dialogue on Good, Evil, and the Existence of God.  Hackett Publishing Company, 1999.

A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. Hackett Publishing Company, 1978.

Identity, Personal Identity and the Self. University of California Press, 1975.

Prof. Perry in the News

July 10, 2015
Philosophy Talk was awarded a Finalist Certificate at this year's New York Festivals International...
May 12, 2015
Did his leaking of classified NSA documents make Edward Snowden a patriot or a traitor? Should he...
March 23, 2015
Stanford emeritus professor of philosophy John Perry explains how being a perfectionist can...
July 31, 2014
Beyond their research activities, Stanford humanities scholars make time for leisure reading over...
July 16, 2014
John Perry, professor emeritus of philosophy, addresses the historical value of dawdling offline...
April 1, 2013
Neuroscience can explain which parts of the brain are activated when someone hears a song, but why...
February 1, 2013
Philosophers take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding self-awareness in a Stanford...
September 29, 2011
The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 29, 2011
November 17, 2010
"Philosophy Talk" Radio Show reaches fourth graders .
March 19, 2010
Perry talks about his procrastination research in a story about the benefits of wasting time.
October 15, 2009
Professors Ken Taylor and John Perry will discuss our generation's obligation to the future.
September 30, 2008
Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2008
June 12, 2008
Talk of the Nation, June 12, 2008
March 17, 2008
This piece quotes and cites Stanford Philosophy Professor John Perry.
March 27, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle, March 27, 2003
Stanford Report, September 15, 2011
Diverse Issues in Education, April 1, 2010
The Stanford Daily, October 26, 2011


  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Personal Identity
  • Self-Knowledge
  • Procrastination
  • Immortality

Contact information


B.A., Doane College, 1964
Ph.D., Cornell University, 1968