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News: Winter 1994/95
In September Sir Karl Popper died aged 92. Popper was one of the most influential thinkers this century on philosophy of science and political philosophy. His death comes in the midst of renewed interest in his work. The Royal Institute of Philosophy has been holding a series of public lectures on different aspects of Popper’s thought and it had been hoped that he would be well enough to attend one of them. In The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1935) he criticised the traditional view that science progesses by induction and suggested that the mark of a scientific statement is that it has the potential to be falsified; that is, disproved by a contrary observation. Forced to flee his native Austria by the Nazis, he was a lifelong enemy of all forms of totalitarianism, and defended liberal democracy in The Open Society and its Enemies (1945). The Poverty of Historicism (1957) attacked the Marxist notion that history progresses inexorably in a particular direction.
Hume It May Concern
A new book on David Hume has just been published by Edinburgh University Press. Hume and Hume’s Connexions is a collection of essays about the intellectual background to Hume’s philosophical writings. It includes a facsimile reproduction of the ‘lost’ Hume manuscript which was sold for a vast sum through Sotheby’s in London last year, and which has never previously been published (see Phil. Now Issues 7 & 8). The book is edited by Profs. Stewart and Wright.
Centre for Philosophy
The various University of London research institutes have got together to establish a new philosophy organisation. The institutes are setting up an umbrella group called the School for Advanced Study, and the new philosophy programme will form part of that. It will be based initially at the University of London Senate House, where it will be able to take advantage of the extensive philosophy library. The new centre will host research seminars and public lectures and may organise advanced study groups on different aspects of philosophy for philosophers from all over the country. Discussions are under way with various national philosophy societies about the possibility of them all having offices under the same roof. The new centre would also be somewhere that philosophy graduate students could drop into for a coffee and an argument. If you want to know more, contact Jonathan Wolff at the Department of Philosophy, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
Free Will and Death Row
In Gainesville, Georgia, lawyers acting for convicted murderer Tony Mobley announced that he was launching an appeal to have his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Mobley admits shooting pizza restaurant manager John Collins in the back of the head during a robbery, but says that it wasn’t his fault as his family has a history of violence and that this may be due to their possessing a defective gene. Scientific studies at an early stage in the U.S. have suggested that some people may be genetically predisposed to violent behaviour, though the results are not yet conclusive.