Sample Essay on David Malet Armstrong

David Malet Armstrong

For most people, leaving a legacy behind after their demise is by far the most fulfilling achievement in life. However, not many people manage to attain this feat and even fewer live to witness their legacy grow. David Malet Armstrong was one such individual who was fortunate to witness the latter. He was widely regarded as a great philosopher, and by far the most significant one during his era (Easson 2014). Most scholars agree to various philosophical theories, but are also opposed to some, which was their case with David Malet Armstrong as well. The fact that his arguments have stood the test of time is what makes him a great philosopher. The essay reviews David Armstrong’s biographical information, the philosophical theories he agreed with and those he was opposed to.

Biographical Information

David Armstrong was born on 8th July 1926 in Melbourne, Australia (Easson 2014).  He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and Geelong Grammar Institute. Before venturing into the world of philosophy, David served at the Royal Australian Navy from 1945 to 1946, after which he enrolled at the University of Sydney to obtain a degree in philosophy, later graduating with first class honors in 1950. During his lifetime, David worked as a lecturer of philosophy at various institutes including London University and University of Melbourne, and later became a senior lecturer in philosophy at the same institute. In 1964, David became the Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney, a position he held until his retirement in 1991 (Easson 2014).

Philosophical Theory

Armstrong wrote various books and publications concerning philosophical arguments, some of which included: ‘Perception and the Physical World (1961), Bodily Sensations (1962), A Materialist Theory of the Mind (1968), Belief, Truth and Knowledge (1973), Nominalism and Realism and A Theory of Universals (1978), What is a Law of Nature? (1983) (Easson 2014). It is strongly evident from his work that Armstrong’s main focus was on epistemology, realism, and materialism, factors which served as a base for his philosophical theories.

Armstrong, as stated in the excerpt of his book ‘Perception and the Physical world‘, considered different theories of perception based on the answers they provided to pertinent questions on the subject of perception and consciousness. Armstrong used the theory of perception to acquire beliefs that allowed him to explain the difference between perception and sensory beliefs. There is, however, one subject that Armstrong was opposed to; that sensory illusion leads to true beliefs. Armstrong firmly believed that sensory illusion did not result in true beliefs; rather, perception was the answer to true beliefs. He stressed on the laws of nature and stated that they expressed relations between universal objects, but was however, opposed to the fact that the laws of nature were a mere generalization (Campbell n.d.).

David Armstrong was, without doubt, a great philosopher who dedicated his life to ensure that the field of philosophy was widely understood by conducting thorough researches on specific subjects before writing publications on the same.  Armstrong was a staunch advocate of such philosophical theories as epistemology, realism, and materialism. Upon his death in 2014 at the prime age of 87 years, Armstrong had already etched his name among the great philosophers of all time, and had lived long enough to witness the expansiveness of his legacy.


Works Cited


Easson, Michael. (2014) “David Armstrong, philosopher with an international reputation.” The Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed 6 February 2017.

Armstrong, David,M (n.d) “Perception and the Physical World”.  Questia. Accessed 6 February 2017.

Praboqk, (n.d). “David Malet Armstrong: Materialist Philosopher.” Accessed 6 February 2017.

Campbell, Keith.F (n.d). “David Malet Armstrong AO: 1926-2014.” The Australian Academy of the Humanities, Annual Report 2013–14, Obituaries.  Accessed 6 February 2017.