UK launches united professional society

July 25, 2003

Alison Goddard reports on revelations and revels at the annual meeting of British philosophers in Belfast

A single professional society for UK philosophers was launched last week in Belfast. The body will represent philosophers in negotiations with funding and research councils.

The British Philosophical Association "seeks to voice to the academic world, and beyond, the mind of the discipline on matters affecting the wellbeing of the professionI making representations to the appropriate bodies and, when necessary, lobbying government, MPs or other relevant bodies".

David Evans, professor of logic and metaphysics at Queen's University, Belfast, chaired the philosophy panel in the 2001 research assessment exercise and organised three conferences that took place in Belfast over the past week, bringing together the British Society for the Philosophy of Science, the Mind Association, the Aristotelian Society and the British Society for Ethical Theory.

He told The THES that the new association would defend the subject, which he described as being healthy, from proposed changes that would threaten its future.

Professor Evans said: "The concentration of research in a smaller number of institutions is unhelpful. We have to rail against the idea that what is good for physics is good for philosophy."

The association's official launch will take place in London in the autumn, when its first executive committee will be elected. Labour MP Tony McWalter, formerly of the University of Hertfordshire, is on the transitional committee, chaired by Roger Trigg of the University of Warwick.

The British Philosophical Association replaces bodies such as the National Committee for Philosophy and the Standing Conference of Philosophers.

Individual, departmental and learned society memberships are available.

Details: www.britphil.ac.uk

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