Chair of the Humanist Philosophers
The Open University, City University London, PhilosophyTalks
Peter Cave studied philosophy at University College London and King’s College Cambridge. He has held lecturing posts in Khartoum and London; currently he is associate lecturer in philosophy for The Open University and City University, London, and has been invited to give lectures in various European universities.
Specialist topics include: philosophical paradoxes and absurdities; reasoning and fallacies in ethics, religion, politics and public life. He is involved in the media, most recently scripting and presenting a series of philosophical paradoxes for BBC Radio 4, set in a paradoxical fairground, and a BBC Radio 4 programme celebrating John Stuart Mill. He has taken part in many public debates concerning God and religious belief.
He is the current chair of the Humanist Philosophers. He gives talks, lectures, debates and publishes papers on a wide range of philosophical topics, often with a humorous content. He is also a Chartered Financial Planner, involved in setting the regulatory approved examinations for financial advisers.
He is the author of Humanism : A Beginner’s Guide, which BHA President Polly Toynbee described as “A book for our times”, and of the best-selling Can a Robot Be Human? and What’s Wrong with Eating People? - both books containing 33 puzzles about religious belief as well as about reasoning, logic, ethics and political themes. His most recent work is This Sentence Is False: an Introduction to Philosophical Paradoxes.
Email or telephone 020 7287 2025/7950.
Members of the Humanist Philosophers
Dr Julian Baggini
Writer, and editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine
Julian Baggini was a founder-member of the HPG in 1999, and is a Distinguished Supporter of the BHA. Read more about Julian Baggini on our Distinguished Supporters page.
He is the author of several books on philosophy including Welcome to Everytown, and with Jeremy Stangroom, The Pig that Wants to be Eaten (Granta) and Complaint: from Minor Moans to Principled Protests (Profile).
Specialist topics include: atheism and secularism; philosophy in public life.
Professor Helen Beebee
Helen Beebee is a professor in the Philosophy Department at Birmingham, where she moved in 2005 after six years at the University of Manchester. She is also Director of the British Philosophical Association.
Professor Simon Blackburn
Department of Philosophy, University of Cambridge
Simon Blackburn is the Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and a Vice-President of the BHA. You can read more about Professor Blackburn on our Distinguished Supporters page.
In December 2001 he gave the BHA Voltaire Lecture, “Does Relativism Matter?”
Specialist topics include: political philosophy; social theory; justice.
Professor Margaret Boden
School of Cognitive and Computing Science, University of Sussex
Margaret A. Boden is Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Sussex (School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences). She is a Fellow (and past Vice-President) of the British Academy and the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and a member of the Academia Europaea. In 2002 she was awarded an OBE (for services to cognitive science). She holds degrees in medical sciences, philosophy, and psychology (including a Cambridge ScD and a Harvard PhD), and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Bristol and Sussex. Her writing has been translated into 17 foreign languages, and she has given lectures and media interviews across North and South America, Europe, India, the USSR, and the Pacific.
Specialist topics include: the implications of psychology for neuroscience, AI, and our view of humanity; the nature of creativity and human freedom.
Her most recent work was Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science, (Oxford University Press, 2006).
Dr Stephen Burwood
Department of Philosophy, University of Hull
Stephen Burwood is a co-opted member on the Executive of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain. His interests include: science; creationism; mind/consciousness/self; “out of body experiences”; environmental issues; education.
Professor Michael Clark
Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham
Michael Clark taught Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. He read Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford and moved to Nottingham after five years as a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. He has also held visiting posts at the University of New Orleans. He works principally in the areas of philosophical logic and the philosophy of law.
He took part in the May 2006 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Stuart Mill, hosted by the Parliamentary Humanist Group in the House of Lords. He was one of the signatories to a letter supporting a holiday on Charles Darwin’s birthday, published in The Times on February 12, 2003, and also sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.
Professor Clark is the editor of the journal Analysis. He is the author of Paradoxes from A to Z(Routledge, 2nd ed. 2007) and participated in the 2001 HPG conference “Is Nothing Sacred?”
Professor Phillip Cole
Professor of Applied Philosophy, School of Health and Social Sciences, University of Wales, Newport
Phillip Cole’s primary research interest concerns the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion around communities and the extent to which they have an ethical dimension. He has written about, amongst other subjects, poverty and social exclusion, welfare and social justice, the ethics of immigration policy, access to fertility treatment, issues around impairment and disability, the idea of ‘evil’, and the right to health.
He has published three books, The Free, the Unfree, and the Excluded (Ashgate 1998), Philosophies of Exclusion: Liberal Political Theory and Immigration (Edinburgh University Press, 2000), and The Myth of Evil (Edinburgh University Press, UK, and Praeger, USA, 2006). He is currently co-writing a book on immigration policy for Oxford University Press, and a book on the ethics of emigration for Edinburgh University Press. A co-edited book, with Gideon Calder and Jonathan Seglow, Citizenship Acquisition and National Belonging: Migration, Membership and the Liberal Democratic State, is soon to be published by Palgrave Macmillan.
Professor Antony Duff
Department of Philosophy, University of Stirling
Antony Duff was educated at Oxford and, after a year at the University of Washington in Seattle, taught in the Philosophy Department at the University of Stirling from1970 until 2009. He retains a close connection with Stirling, and also now holds a half-time position in the University of Minnesota Law School.
His research has focused on philosophical issues in criminal law, including the philosophy of punishment (Trials and Punishments, 1986; Punishment, Communication and Community, 2001), the scope and structure of criminal law (Intention, Agency and Criminal Liability, 1990; Criminal Attempts,1996; Answering for Crime, 2007), and the criminal process (The Trial on Trial, 2007). The main focus of his current research is on a four-year AHRC-funded project on Criminalization, with four colleagues, which is working towards a normative theory of the proper scope, structure and content of criminal law.
Professor John Dupré
Department of Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter
John Dupré is currently Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Exeter and since 2002 he has been Director of the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis). He has formerly held posts at Oxford, Stanford, and Birkbeck College, London.
He has worked on a wide variety of biological issues of interest to philosophy, including the nature of species, organisms, and genes, the implications of evolutionary theory, and lately in genomics and various related areas of molecular biology. His publications include Humans and Other Animals (Oxford, 2002); and Darwin’s Legacy: What Evolution Means Today (Oxford, 2003). Most recently he is coauthor, with the sociologist Barry Barnes, of Genomes and What to Make of Them (Chicago, 2008).
Senior Research Fellow, University of East Anglia
Nicholas Everitt retired recently as Senior Lecturer in philosophy at the University of East Anglia, and is currently a Senior Research Fellow. He also teaches philosophy for the Open University. He is the author (with Alec Fisher) of Modern Epistemology (McGraw-Hill 1994), and of The Non-existence of God(Routledge 2004), and also of a variety of academic and popular papers on a wide range of philosophical topics. His main interest is in the philosophy of religion, especially focused on questions about the reasonableness of a belief in God.
Nicholas lives in London and writes on philosophy for the general reader. His books are Zeno and the Tortoise: How to think like a philosopher and Philosophy: The Latest Answers to the Oldest Questions, an audit of the subject’s achievements. His forthcoming Black Book of Philosophy (Atlantic) is a history of error.
Barry Gardiner MP
House of Commons
Barry Gardiner is Labour MP for Brent North. He gave a paper at the 2003 HPG conference, “Faith, Community and the Common Good”.
Dr Simon Glendinning
European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science
Simon teaches courses in the philosophy of Europe at the European Institute.. He is particularly interested in the idea of secularism.
He is the author of In the Name of Phenomenology (Routledge, 2007); The Idea of Continental Philosophy (Edinburgh, 2006); On Being with Others: Heidegger-Derrida-Wittgenstein (Routledge, 1998). He is the editor of Derrida’s Legacies (with Robert Eaglestone, Routledge, 2008); Arguing with Derrida(Blackwell, 2000); and the Edinburgh Encyclopedia of Continental Philosophy (Edinburgh, 1999).
Specialist topics include: Europe; secularism; phenomenology; deconstruction; animal and human differences.
Professor John Harris
Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, University of Manchester
John Harris is a member of the Human Genetics Commission.
He was chosen by The Independent for its Good List 2006 of “50 campaigners, thinkers and givers” for “his uncompromisng intellectual honesty” and “motivation that we have a duty to make the world a better place”. He contributed chapters to Is Nothing Sacred? and Thinking About Death.
His books include The Value of Life, Introduction to Medical Ethics and he edited Bioethics. His On Cloning (Routledge, 2004) is a forceful defence of human cloning. His latest book Enhancing Evolutionwas published by Princeton in 2007.
Dr Alan Haworth
Senior Research Fellow, The Global Policy Institute
Alan Haworth is a political philosopher. He was educated at the University of Keele and, as a postgraduate, at London University (Birkbeck and University College). Throughout his lecturing career he was based mainly at London Metropolitan University (including its predecessors), first in the philosophy section of the Faculty of Humanities and subsequently in the Department of Law, Governance, and International Relations. He is now a Senior Research Fellow of London Met’s Global Policy Institute.
Alan Haworth is the author of Anti-Libertarianism: Markets Philosophy and Myth (Routledge 1994), Free Speech (Routledge 1998), and Understanding the Political Philosophers: from Ancient to Modern Times(Routledge 2004). At present, he is working on his next book, which is provisionally entitled, On Liberty and the Totalitarian Idea.
Dr Peter King
Pembroke College, Oxford
Peter King’s interests include: parapsychology; religion; ethics; mind-body dualism; Descartes. He is the author of One Hundred Philosophers.
Dr Brendan Larvor
Department of Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire
Brendan Larvor studied philosophy and mathematics at Balliol college before embarking on a brief career as a systems analyst. He resumed his studies in philosophy, taking an MA from Queen’ s University Ontario before returning to Balliol to write a doctoral thesis on the philosophy of mathematics of Imre Lakatos. He taught at the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford before joining Hertfordshire in 1997. He specialises in the history and philosophy of science and mathematics, with special reference to the forms of argument specific to each discipline
Dr Larvor also has interests in ethics and in the shortcomings of formal rationality theories. He enjoys football, curries and guitars. He wrote Relativism Explained for teachers and students. He was one of the signatories to a letter supporting a holiday on Charles’ Darwin’s birthday, published in The Times on February 12, 2003, and also sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary.
Specialist topics include: religion; communalism.
In March 2004 he wrote a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech on atheism and RE, and he co-edited Thinking About Death.
Also see Brendan Larvor’s essay, Relativism Explained.
Dr Stephen Law
Heythrop College, University of London, Editor of Think (Royal Institute Philosophy) Provost of Centre for Inquiry UK
Stephen Law worked as a postman before first entering university as a mature student at the age of 24. He has a B.Phil and D.Phil in philosophy from the University of Oxford and was a stipendiary Junior Research Fellow in philosophy at Queen’s College, Oxford, for three years. He is now senior lecturer in philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London.
He gave the first BHA Darwin Day lecture “Is creationism scientific?” in February 2002, and also wrote “Sleight of hand with faith”.
Specialist topics include: relevance of philosophy; philosophy and religion; philosophy and children; moral education; creationism v evolution.
Stephen is editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s new popular journal of philosophy Think: Philosophy For Everyone, and the author of a number of popular philosophy books, including The Philosophy Files (Orion, for adults and children 12+), The Philosophy Gym (Headline, winner of the Mindelheim philosophy prize), The Xmas Files and a book on faith schools called The War for Children’s Minds (Routledge). His most recent book is Really, Really Big Questions, for children age 9+ (Kingfisher).
Professor James Lenman
Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield
James Lenman holds a personal chair in Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. He became Secretary of the British Society for Ethical Theory upon its foundation in 1996 and was its President from 2002 to 2008. In 2002-2003 he was a Faculty Fellow at the Harvard University Center for Ethics and the Professions. He works mainly in ethical theory where he has published papers on, inter alia, moral truth, moral objectivity, moral naturalism, moral psychology, moral epistemology, moral responsibility and moral and ethical issues arising around risk, work, extinction and death.
Dr Sandra Marshall
Department of Philosophy, University of Stirling
Sandra Marshall serves on the Management Committee of the Philosophical Quarterly and is President of the Association for Legal and Social Philosophy. Her research interests span topics within legal, political and social philosophy.
Dr Stephen McLeod
Department of Philosophy, University of Liverpool
Stephen McLeod has been a lecturer in philosophy at Liverpool since 2003. His research interests include topics within metaphysics and ethics.
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge
Hugh Mellor was Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University from 1986 to 1999 and a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University from February 2000 to December 2001. He has a Cambridge Sc.D and an Honorary Ph.D from the University of Lund. He was a fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge from 1971 to 2005 and of the British Academy from 1983 to 2008. He was originally trained at Cambridge as a Chemical Engineer, doing graduate work in the US and working for ICI for a year before returning to Cambridge in 1963 to do a Ph.D. in Philosophy.
Most of his philosophical work has been in metaphysics, on the nature of chance, time and causation. His main recreation is the theatre, both as audience and as a performer with Cambridge town groups. He participated the 2002 HPG conference “Death, a Live Issue”.
Dr Peter Millican
Hertford College, University of Oxford
Dr Millican is Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Hertford College, Oxford University, and also Reader in Early Modern Philosophy.
The main focus of Peter’s research in recent years has been on philosophical issues arising from the work of David Hume, the greatest figure of the Scottish Enlightenment and since 2005 has been Co-Editor of the journal Hume Studies. As a member of HPG, Peter Millican’s particular concerns include: religious belief; creationism and evolution; pseudo-science and “new age” superstitions; applied ethics; education; David Hume.
Professor Richard Norman
University of Kent
Richard Norman taught philosophy at the University of Kent, working mainly in the areas of moral and political philosophy, including both theoretical and practical ethics, and is now Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy.
His books include The Moral Philosophers (a critical introduction to philosophical ethics from Plato to the present), Free and Equal (a defence of an egalitarian conception of social justice), Ethics, Killing and War (which explores the difficulty of justifying participation in war but stops short of an absolute pacifist position), and On Humanism (Routledge, 2004). Some of his recent writing on humanism can be found at http://newhumanist.org.uk/1623/holy-communion
and at http://newhumanist.org.uk/2174/beyond-belief. You can read more about Richard Norman on our Distinguished Supporters pages.
Professor Eric Olson
Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield
Eric was educated in the United States, before coming to Britain in 1995 as an ‘economic migrant’ to a lectureship at Cambridge. His main interest is metaphysics, including such topics as personal identity, the ontology of material objects, time, and death. His book The Human Animal (Oxford University Press, 1997) argued that you and I are biological organisms and that personal identity is animal identity, a view that remains unpopular among philosophers. A second book, What Are We? (Oxford University Press, 2007), examines the alternatives. Among his current projects is an article on the metaphysical possibility of life after death for The Myth of Afterlife, edited by Keith Augustine and Michael Martin.
Professor David Papineau
Department of Philosophy, Kings College London
David Papineau was educated in Trinidad, England, and South Africa. He has a BSc in mathematics from the University of Natal and a BA and PhD in philosophy from Cambridge. He has lectured at Reading University, Macquarie University, Sydney, Birkbeck College London, and Cambridge University. He joined Kings College London as Professor of Philosophy of Science in 1990. He works on issues in epistemology, philosophy of science, and the philosophy of mind and psychology.
His books are For Science in the Social Sciences (1978), Theory and Meaning (1979), Reality and Representation (1987) and Philosophical Naturalism (1993). He edited Philosophy of Science (1996), and Introducing Consciousness (2000). His book Thinking about Consciousness was published by Oxford University Press in 2002, along with a collection of essays on rationality, probability, and evolution.
Specialist topics include: science; biology; mind/brain/consciousness; science vs. creationism.
Dr Kathryn Plant
Open University in Wales
Dr Plant specialises in the philosophy of disability. She co-edited the book Fifty Major Philosophers(Routledge) with Diane Collinson.
Professor Duncan Pritchard
Department of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh
Duncan Pritchard is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He works mainly in the field of epistemology, and has published widely in this area, including the books Epistemic Luck (Oxford University Press, 2005), What is this Thing Called Knowledge? (Routledge, 2006), Knowledge (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and (with Adrian Haddock and Alan Millar) The Nature and Value of Knowledge: Three Investigations (Oxford University Press, 2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the journals Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy and International Journal for the Study of Skepticism.
Dr Janet Radcliffe Richards
University of Oxford and University College London
Janet Radcliffe Richards is Professor of Practical Philosophy and Distinguished Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. She is also a Senior Research Associate at UCL’s Department of Philosophy.
Her philosophical interests include feminism and bioethics.
Jonathan’s books include Philosophical Tales and I See a Voice and his journalism has appeared in the Financial Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Guardian, Independent, Lingua Franca, Prospect,Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books. He is an atheist and secularist but he thinks that religious traditions contain far more intelligence and insight than the brasher kinds of humanist give them credit for. He has recently escaped from an academic career in order to become a philosophical freelance.
Specialist topics include: atheism and anti-theism; understanding religious traditions; absolutism and relativism in science and morals.
Associate Fellow, IPPR and Demos
He has been a team leader in the Prime-Minister’s Strategy Unit and a Deputy Director in the Department of Communities and Local Government. He is particularly interested in political theory and citizenship.
Ben Rogers’ publications include Beef and Liberty (Chatto and Windus, 2003), A J Ayer, a Life (Vintage, 2000). He edited Is Nothing Sacred?, based on the HPG conference.
Professor Peter Simons
Department of Philosophy, Trinity College, Dublin
Peter Simons studied Mathematics and Philosophy at Manchester before emigrating to Austria from 1980 where he worked at Salzburg University until returning to the UK to Leeds in 1995.
His Austrian Habilitationsschrift Parts appeared with OUP in 1987, and a collection of essays,Philosophy and Logic in Central Europe from Bolzano to Tarski, in 1992. He has published over 200 papers on metaphysics and ontology and their applications, logic and its history, and the history of Austrian and Polish philosophy. He is Director of the Brentano Foundation and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is married with 2 children.
Specialist topics include: philosophical/ethical issues in engineering, IT, and biology; British vs Continental philosophy; science v creationism.
Professor Kate Soper
Department of Philosophy, London Metropolitan University
Kate’s interests include environmental issues; aesthetics of nature; theory of need. Her publications include Humanism and Anti-Humanism (Problems of Modern European Thought) (1986) and The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently: Better Than Shopping (Consumption and Public Life)which she co-edited with Martin Ryle and Lyn Thomas in 2008.
Professor Tom Sorell
University of Birmingham
John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics
Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics
Professor Sorell has published widely in philosophy, and has practical experience in human rights. Before coming to Birmingham he was co-director of the Human Rights Centre at Essex University. His research interests include the relationship between moral theory and human rights, failures of application of moral theory, and most areas of applied ethics and other fields in philosophy. He has also worked as a practitioner in business and human rights. He is a member of the Amnesty International (UK) Business Section and was a member of the UK Forum on Genetics and Insurance. His major publications include Moral Theory and Capital Punishment (1987); (with John Hendry) Business Ethics(1994); Moral Theory and Anomaly (1999); (Ed) Health Care, Ethics, and Insurance (1998). He is currently working on a book on the moral and political theory of emergencies.
Prof Sorell studied at McGill University as an undergraduate and received both the BPhil and the DPhil at Oxford, where he was a Canada Council, Quebec Government and Graduate Scholar at Balliol. He has taught at Oxford, Essex and the Open University. In 1996-97 he was Fellow in Ethics at Harvard University.
He has recently published two new books: Scientia in Early Modern Philosophy and Insiders and Outsiders in Seventeenth Century Philosophy.
Dr Suzanne Uniacke
University of Hull
Suzanne Uniacke is Reader in Applied Ethics, and Director of the Institute of Applied Ethics, at the University of Hull . She is Joint Editor of the Journal of Applied Philosophy. Suzanne studied philosophy at La Trobe University and the University of Sydney. She has held research fellowships at St. Andrews, Harvard, and Stirling. Prior to moving to the United Kingdom in 2001, Suzanne taught philosophy at a number of Australian universities, and acted as honorary consultant to law reform commissions in Australia on homicide and on privacy.
Her principal research interests are in theoretical and applied ethics and philosophy of law. She also works on issues in social and political philosophy. Her publications include, Permissible Killing: The Self- defence Justification of Homicide (Cambridge University Press, 1994). She participated in the 2001 HPG conference “Is Nothing Sacred?”, and the 2002 conference “Death, a Live Issue”.
Dr Nigel Warburton
Department of Philosophy, Open University
A founder-member of the HPG, Nigel Warburton is lecturer in philosophy at the Open University.
His philosophical interests include: critical thinking; boxing, photography.
He is best known for his introductory books on philosophy, Philosophy: the Basics, Philosophy: the Classics and Thinking from A to Z, but has also written on aesthetics and the history of photography. His book on the definition of art, The Art Question, was published by Routledge in Autumn 2002. He participated in the 2001 HPG conference “Is Nothing Sacred?”
Professor John White
Institute of Education, University of London
John White has written on the Philosophy of Education for the past 37 years.
His interests are in interrelationships among educational aims and applications to school curricula, especially in the areas of the arts, history and personal and social education. His books includeTowards a Compulsory Curriculum (1973), Philosophers as Educational Reformers (1979) (with Peter Gordon), The Aims of Education Restated (1982), Education and the Good Life: Beyond the National Curriculum (1990), A National Curriculum for All: Laying the Foundations for Success (1991) (with Philip O’ Hear ), The Arts 5-16 : Changing the Agenda (1992), Education and the End of Work: a New Philosophy of Work and Learning (1997), Do Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Add Up? (1998),Will the New National Curriculum Live Up to its Aims? (2000) (with Steve Bramall), and The Child’s Mind(2002).
In 2004 he edited Rethinking the School Curriculum, which contains a controversial section on RE.
Professor Stephen Wilkinson
Centre for Professional Ethics, Keele University
Stephen Wilkinson is Professor of Bioethics at Keele University. His most recent research is on reproductive ethics and the regulation of reproductive technologies and a book entitled Choosing Tomorrow’s Children: the ethics of selective reproduction was published by OUP in 2010.
A previous phase of research focussed on the commercial exploitation of the human body and culminated in his first book, Bodies for Sale: ethics and exploitation in the human body trade (Routledge 2003).