Professor, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UNSW
In the philosophy of mathematics, James leads the "Sydney School",which defends an Aristotelian realist theory of mathematics. Starting from applied mathematics, this theory takes mathematics to be primarily about the quantitative and structural properties of the real world, such as ratios, symmetry and continuity ... more
In extreme risks, where probabilities have to be evaluated beyond the range of the available data, James recommends "advocacy methods", by which expert opinion is subject to sceptical checking by a panel of experts with a different agenda.
In the philosophy of probability, James's historical book on the pre-mathematical theory of probability informs his defence of an objective Bayesian view of probability, according to which logical probability is an objective logical relation between evidence and conclusion.
James was awarded the 2005 Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics for work on the parallel between objectivity in mathematics and in ethics. He edited a book on Catholic social justice theory and maintains a website on indigenous violence issues. He conducted the Restraint Project, a research project on the virtue of temperance in the Australian context.
In Australian Catholic history, James has written the books Catholic Values and Australian Realities and The Real Archbishop Mannix and is the editor of the Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society. In Australian history more generally, he is best known for his book Corrupting the Youth, on Australian philosophy.
James is the literary executor of the late Australian philosopher David Stove.