On Leiter’s blog there was a poll on the question “who’s the most important philosopher of the 20th century”, prompted by the unqualified assertion by Jim Holt in a NYT book review that that would be Wittgenstein. The results were widely debated, e.g., on Crooked Timber. The reason the results were contentious, I think, is because the methodology was severely flawed and consequently the results were widely off. Of course the proper methodology would be to find a property that correlates with the property you’re interested in, but that is objectively measurable. Obviously, the property you should be interested in here is fame. Below a ranking of the philosophers included in Leiter’s list, sorted by fame (measured in dBHa, the international logarithmic unit of fame, see Schulman 2009).
|6||Simone de Beauvoir||-3.98|
|20||Alfred North Whitehead||16||26||-9.84|
|27||G. E. Moore||21||15||-12.02|
|28||W. V. O. Quine||22||6||-12.83|
|33||P. F. Strawson||24||24||-17.08|
|41||David K. Lewis||30||3||-23.06|
The top 8 are B-list celebrities, 9-31 are C-list, by Schulman’s standard.
UPDATE: Prompted by Rob Wilson’s comment, I added a number of women philosophers to Leiter’s original list.
Schulman, E. 2009, “Measuring Fame Quantitatively. IV. Who’s the Most Famous of Them All?” Annals of Improbable Research Online, February 28. (see also AIR February 28)