Marinus sent me a long, very interesting email message, criticizing my dismissive attitude toward the Prisoner's Dilemma in Part Five of my tutorial on Formal Methods in Political Philosophy. I am turning that over in my mind, and will reply in a bit. But out of curiosity, I Google'd him, and found my way to an interesting thread of comments on Brian Leiter's well-known blog [http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/] to which he had made a contribution.
Almost a year ago, Leiter started a lengthy discussion about which ten philosophers writing in English in the last third of the twentieth century will still be read a hundred years from now. I paged through a good many of the comments entered in the discussion [no, my name does not appear anywhere], and all the usual suspects showed up in the various lists -- Rawls, Quine, Davidson, Kripke, Lewis, Parfitt, etc., etc., etc., but after a while it occurred to me that virtually all the contributors were going about things the wrong way.
The first question to be asked is this: What sort of discipline do you think contemporary Anglo-American philosophy is? I think it is fair to say that there is a wide and growing belief especially among young analytic philosophers that philosophy, at long last, has graduated from being a humanistic discipline to being something very like science, with an admirable rigor, a sub-division of specializations, and a steady advance of well-confirmed discoveries. I don't myself share this view of philosophy, but then I have really been out of the game for more than a third of a century, so my opinion does not count.
If this is what you think philosophy is, then it is almost certain that in a hundred years none of the people proposed for the list will still be read seriously. Think about it. How many century-old papers in Physics or Biology or Chemistry [never mind Bio-Chemistry, a relatively new discipline] are read by practicing members of those disciplines? Maybe physicists out of piety read Einstein's annus mirabilis papers from 1905, but surely that is about the long and short of it. If analytic philosophy really has become what Kuhn called normal science, then what is being written now will be incorporated into twenty-second century philosophy, its authors all but forgotten. In Economics, whose practitioners like to flatter themselves that they are scientists because they use undergraduate math [calculus and linear algebra, with some statistics thrown in], Smith and Ricardo are honored only on Saint's Days, and even Menger, Walras, Jevons, Marshall, and Schumpeter are consigned to secondary courses on the history of the subject.
However, if you really think anyone will be reading Davidson or Lewis or Quine or Kripke or Rawls or [substitute your favorite here] in a century, it can only be because you think philosophy is, after all, a humanistic undertaking that grapples with the eternal questions of human existence and meaning, and hence flourishes by remembering its past and reading the texts that have stood the test of time.
Once you start thinking in that way, the question becomes quite complex, and it is not at all obvious who, if anyone, should be put on the list. [I say "if anyone" because looked at that way, philosophy exhibits long stretches, more than a century in many cases, during which nothing terribly memorable is written, and whether this is one of those down times remains to be seen.] I am reminded that Cicero, for example, was held in very high regard in the eighteenth century, even though today he is viewed [rightly in my opinion] as a thoroughly second-rate thinker. And I am afraid we all know what Hume said about his own Treatise, arguably the finest piece of philosophy every written in the English language.