Mary Midgley

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Mary Midgley
Mary Midgley.JPG
Mary Scrutton

(1919-09-13)13 September 1919 [1]
Died10 October 2018(2018-10-10) (aged 99)
Jesmond, Newcastle, England
Residence Newcastle, UK
Alma mater Somerville College, Oxford
Notable work
Beast and Man (1978), Animals and Why They Matter (1983), Evolution as a Religion (1985), Science as Salvation (1992)
Spouse(s)Geoffrey Midgley (m. 1950, d. 1997)
AwardsHonorary D. Litt (1995), Durham University; Honorary DCL (2008), Newcastle University
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic philosophy [2]
Main interests
Moral philosophy, animal rights, philosophy of science, ethology, evolution
Notable ideas
Humans as ethical primates

Mary Beatrice Midgley (née Scrutton; 13 September 1919 10 October 2018 [1] ) was a British philosopher. She was a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University and was known for her work on science, ethics and animal rights. She wrote her first book, Beast And Man (1978), when she was in her fifties. She went on to write more than 15 other books, including Animals and Why They Matter (1983), Wickedness (1984), The Ethical Primate (1994), Evolution as a Religion (1985), and Science as Salvation (1992). She was awarded honorary doctorates by Durham and Newcastle universities. Her autobiography, The Owl of Minerva, was published in 2005.

Newcastle University university in England, United Kingdom

Newcastle University is a public research university in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. The university can trace its origins to a School of Medicine and Surgery, established in 1834, and to the College of Physical Science, founded in 1871. These two colleges came to form one division of the federal University of Durham, with the Durham Colleges forming the other. The Newcastle colleges merged to form King's College in 1937. In 1963, following an Act of Parliament, King's College became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Animal rights idea in which some, or all, non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives and that their most basic interests—such as the need to avoid suffering—should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings

Animal rights is the idea in which some, or all, non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives and that their most basic interests—such as the need to avoid suffering—should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.

Durham University collegiate public research university in Durham, England, United Kingdom

Durham University is a collegiate public research university in Durham, North East England, founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1837. It was one of the first universities to commence tuition in England for more than 600 years, after Oxford and Cambridge, and is one of the institutions to be described as the third-oldest university in England. As a collegiate university its main functions are divided between the academic departments of the university and its 16 colleges. In general, the departments perform research and provide teaching to students, while the colleges are responsible for their domestic arrangements and welfare.


Midgley strongly opposed reductionism and scientism, and any attempts to make science a substitute for the humanities—a role for which it is, she argued, wholly inadequate. She wrote extensively about what philosophers can learn from nature, particularly from animals. A number of her books and articles discussed philosophical ideas appearing in popular science, including those of Richard Dawkins. She also wrote in favour of a moral interpretation of the Gaia hypothesis. The Guardian described her as a fiercely combative philosopher and the UK's "foremost scourge of 'scientific pretension.'" [3]


Reductionism is any of several related philosophical ideas regarding the associations between phenomena which can be described in terms of other simpler or more fundamental phenomena.

Scientism is an ideology that promotes science as the purportedly objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values. The term scientism is generally used critically, pointing to the cosmetic application of science in unwarranted situations not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards.

Richard Dawkins English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author

Clinton Richard Dawkins, is an English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008.

Early life

Midgley was born in London to Lesley and Tom Scrutton. [1] Her father, the son of the eminent judge Sir Thomas Edward Scrutton, was a curate in Dulwich and later chaplain of King's College, Cambridge. She was raised in Cambridge, Greenford and Ealing, and educated at Downe House School in Cold Ash, Berkshire, where she developed her interest in classics and philosophy:

Thomas Edward Scrutton British legal professional

Sir Thomas Edward Scrutton was an English legal text-writer and a judge of considerable eminence.

Curate person who is invested with the care or cure (cura) of souls of a parish

A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure (cura) of souls of a parish. In this sense, "curate" correctly means a parish priest; but in English-speaking countries the term curate is commonly used to describe clergy who are assistants to the parish priest. The duties or office of a curate are called a curacy.

Kings College Chapel, Cambridge Church in Cambridge, United Kingdom

King's College Chapel is the chapel at King's College in the University of Cambridge. It is considered one of the finest examples of late Perpendicular Gothic English architecture. The chapel was built in phases by a succession of kings of England from 1446 to 1515, a period which spanned the Wars of the Roses. The chapel's large stained glass windows were not completed until 1531, and its early Renaissance rood screen was erected in 1532–36. The chapel is an active house of worship, and home of the King's College Choir. The chapel is a significant tourist site and a commonly used symbol of the city of Cambridge.

Midgley's father was a King's College chaplain. KingsCollegeChapelWest.jpg
Midgley's father was a King's College chaplain.

[A] new and vigorous Classics teacher offered to teach a few of us Greek, and that too was somehow slotted into our timetables. We loved this and worked madly at it, which meant that with considerable efforts on all sides, it was just possible for us to go to college on Classics … I had decided to read Classics rather than English – which was the first choice that occurred to me – because my English teacher, bless her, pointed out that English literature is something that you read in any case, so it is better to study something that you otherwise wouldn't. Someone also told me that, if you did Classics at Oxford, you could do Philosophy as well. I knew very little about this but, as I had just found Plato, I couldn't resist trying it. [4]

Midgley read Greats at Oxford, going up to Somerville in 1938. Somerville College.jpg
Midgley read Greats at Oxford, going up to Somerville in 1938.

She took the Oxford entrance exam in the autumn of 1937, gaining a place at Somerville College. During the year before starting university, it was arranged that she would live in Austria for three months to learn German, but she had to leave after a month because of the worsening political situation. At Somerville she studied Mods and Greats alongside Iris Murdoch, graduating with first-class honours.

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country of nearly 9 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi). The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other local official languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

<i>Anschluss</i> annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938

Anschluss refers to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938. The word's German spelling, until the German orthography reform of 1996, was Anschluß and it was also known as the Anschluss Österreichs.

Several of her lasting friendships that began at Oxford were with scientists, and she credited them with having educated her in a number of scientific disciplines. [5] After a split in the Labour club at Oxford over the Soviet Union's actions, she was on the committee of the newly formed Democratic Socialist Club alongside Tony Crosland and Roy Jenkins. She writes that her career in philosophy may have been affected by women having a greater voice in discussion at the time, because many male undergraduates left after a year to fight in the Second World War: "I think myself that this experience has something to do with the fact that Elizabeth [Anscombe] and I and Iris [Murdoch] and Philippa Foot and Mary Warnock have all made our names in philosophy... I do think that in normal times a lot of good female thinking is wasted because it simply doesn't get heard." [6]

Roy Jenkins British politician, historian and writer

Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead, was a British Labour Party, SDP and Liberal Democrat politician, and biographer of British political leaders.

Iris Murdoch British writer and philosopher

Dame Jean Iris Murdoch was an Irish-born British novelist and philosopher. Murdoch is best known for her novels about good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious. Her first published novel, Under the Net, was selected in 1998 as one of Modern Library's 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 1987, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her books include The Bell (1958), A Severed Head (1961), The Red and the Green (1965), The Nice and the Good (1968), The Black Prince (1973), Henry and Cato (1976), The Sea, the Sea, The Philosopher's Pupil (1983), The Good Apprentice (1985), The Book and the Brotherhood (1987), The Message to the Planet (1989), and The Green Knight (1993). In 2008, The Times ranked Murdoch twelfth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Philippa Foot British philosopher

Philippa Ruth Foot, FBA was a British philosopher. She was one of the founders of contemporary virtue ethics, inspired by the ethics of Aristotle. Her later career marked a significant change in view from her work in the 1950s and 1960s, and may be seen as an attempt to modernize Aristotelian ethical theory, to show that it is adaptable to a contemporary world view, and thus, that it could compete with such popular theories as modern deontological and utilitarian ethics. Some of her work was crucial in the re-emergence of normative ethics within analytic philosophy, especially her critique of consequentialism and of non-cognitivism. A familiar example is the continuing discussion of an example of hers referred to as the trolley problem. Foot's approach was influenced by the later work of Wittgenstein, although she rarely dealt explicitly with materials treated by him. She was the granddaughter of American President Grover Cleveland.


Midgley left Oxford in 1942 and went into the civil service, as "the war put graduate work right out of the question". Instead, she "spent the rest of the war doing various kinds of work that were held to be of national importance". [7]

During this time she was also a teacher at Downe School and Bedford School. She returned to Oxford in 1947 to do graduate work with Gilbert Murray. She began research on Plotinus's view of the soul, which she has described as "so unfashionable and so vast that I never finished my thesis". [7] In retrospect Midgley has written of her belief that she is "lucky" to have missed out in having a doctorate. She argues that one of the main flaws in doctoral training is that, while it "shows you how to deal with difficult arguments", it does not "help you to grasp the big questions that provide its context – the background issues out of which the small problems arose." [7]

In 1949 Midgley went to Reading University, teaching in the philosophy department there for four terms. In 1950 she married Geoffrey Midgley (died 1997), [8] also a philosopher. They moved to Newcastle, where he got a job in the philosophy department of Newcastle University. [9] Midgley gave up teaching for several years while she had three sons (Tom, David and Martin), [3] before also getting a job in the philosophy department at Newcastle, where she and her husband were both "much loved". [9] Midgley taught there between 1962 and 1980. [10] During her time at Newcastle, she began studying ethology and this led to her first book, Beast and Man (1978), published when she was 59. "I wrote no books until I was a good 50, and I'm jolly glad because I didn't know what I thought before then." [3]


Midgley was awarded an honorary D.Litt. by Durham University in 1995 [11] and an honorary Doctor of Civil Law by Newcastle University in 2008. [10] She was an honorary fellow of the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre at Newcastle University. [10] In 2011 she was the first winner of the Philosophy Now Award for Contributions in the Fight Against Stupidity. [12]


Midgley died at the age of 99 in Jesmond on 10 October 2018. [13] [14]

Ideas and arguments

Views on philosophy and religion

Midgley argued that philosophy is like plumbing, something that nobody notices until it goes wrong. "Then suddenly we become aware of some bad smells, and we have to take up the floorboards and look at the concepts of even the most ordinary piece of thinking. The great philosophers ... noticed how badly things were going wrong, and made suggestions about how they could be dealt with." [15] Despite her upbringing, she did not embrace Christianity herself, because, she says, "I couldn't make it work. I would try to pray and it didn't seem to get me anywhere so I stopped after a while. But I think it's a perfectly sensible world view." [9] She also argues that the world's religions should not simply be ignored: "It turns out that the evils which have infested religion are not confined to it, but are ones that can accompany any successful human institution. Nor is it even clear that religion itself is something that the human race either can or should be cured of." [16]

Midgley's book Wickedness (1984) has been described as coming "closest to addressing a theological theme: the problem of evil." [17] But, Midgley argues that we need to understand the human capacity for wickedness, rather than blaming God for it. Midgley argues that evil arises from aspects of human nature, not from an external force. She further argues that evil is the absence of good, with good being described as the positive virtues such as generosity, courage and kindness. Therefore, evil is the absence of these characteristics, leading to selfishness, cowardice and similar. She therefore criticises existentialism and other schools of thought which promote the 'Rational Will' as a free agent. She also criticises the tendency to demonise those deemed 'wicked', by failing to acknowledge that they also display some measure of some of the virtues. [17]

Midgley also expressed her interest in Paul Davies' ideas on the inherent improbability of the order found in the universe. She argued that "there's some sort of tendency towards the formation of order", including towards life and "perceptive life". [9] The best way, she argued, of talking about this is using the concept of "a life force", although she acknowledged that this is "vague". [9] She also argued that "gratitude" is an important part of the motivation for theism. "You go out on a day like this and you're really grateful. I don't know who to." [9]

This understanding also links with Midgley's argument that the concept of Gaia has "both a scientific and a religious aspect." [18] She argued that people find this hard to grasp because our views on both science and religion have been narrowed so much that the connections between them are now obscured. [18] This is not, however, about belief in a personal God, but instead about responding to the system of life, as revealed by Gaia, with "wonder, awe and gratitude" [19]

Gaia and philosophy

Midgley was supportive of James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis. This was part of her "principal passion" of "reviving our reverence for the earth". [10] Midgley also described Gaia as a "breakthrough", as it was "the first time a theory derived from scientific measurements has carried with it an implicit moral imperative – the need to act in the interests of this living system on which we all depend. [20]

In 2001 Midgley founded, along with David Midgley and Tom Wakeford, the Gaia Network, and became its first Chair. [21] [22] Their regular meetings on the implications of Gaia led to the 2007 book Earthy realism edited by Midgley, which sought to bring together the scientific and spiritual aspects of Gaia theory. [22]

Midgley's 2001 pamphlet for Demos Gaia: The next big idea argues for the importance of the idea of Gaia as a "powerful tool" in science, morality, psychology and politics, to gain a more holistic understanding of the world. [23] Instead, Midgley argued that we "must learn how to value various aspects of our environment, how to structure social relationships and institutions so that we value social and spiritual life, as well as the natural world, alongside commercial and economic aspects. [23]

Her book Science and Poetry, also published in 2001, also includes a discussion on the idea of Gaia, which she argued "is not a gratuitous, semi-mystical fantasy", but instead is "a useful idea, a cure for distortions that spoil our current world-view." [24] It is useful both in finding practical solutions to environmental problems and also in giving us "a more realistic view of ourselves". [24] Gaia has, Midgely argued, both scientific and moral importance, which also involves politics. [25] There is also a religious angle to Gaia. [26]

On reductionism and materialism

Beast and Man was an examination of human nature and a reaction against the reductionism of sociobiology, and the relativism and behaviorism she saw as prevalent in much of social science. She argued that human beings are more similar to animals than many social scientists then acknowledged, while animals are in many ways more sophisticated than was often accepted. [9] She criticised existentialists who argued that there was no such thing as human nature and writers such as Desmond Morris who she understood as arguing that human nature was "brutal and nasty". [9] Instead, she argued that human beings and their relationship with animals could be better understood by using the qualitative methods of ethology and comparative psychology, and that this approach showed that "we do have a nature and it's much more in the middle. [9]

Writing in the 2002 introduction to the reprint of Evolution as a Religion (1985), Midgley reported that she wrote both this book, and the later Science as Salvation (1992) to counter the "quasi-scientific speculation" [27] of "certain remarkable prophetic and metaphysical passages that appeared suddenly in scientific books, often in their last chapters." [28] Evolution as a Religion dealt with the theories of evolutionary biologists, including Dawkins, while Science as Salvation dealt with the theories of physicists and artificial intelligence researchers. Midgley writes that she still believes that these theories, "have nothing to do with any reputable theory of evolution," [29] and will not solve the real social and moral problems the world is facing, either through genetic engineering or the use of machines. She concludes: "These schemes still seem to me to be just displacement activities proposed in order to avoid facing our real difficulties." [29] "[I]n exposing these rhetorical attempts to turn science into a comprehensive ideology," she wrote in The myths we live by, "I am not attacking science but defending it against dangerous misconstructions." [30]

Midgley argued against reductionism, or the attempt to impose any one approach to understanding the world. She suggests that there are "many maps, many windows," arguing that "we need scientific pluralism—the recognition that there are many independent forms and sources of knowledge—rather than reductivism, the conviction that one fundamental form underlies them all and settles everything." She writes that it is helpful to think of the world as "a huge aquarium. We cannot see it as a whole from above, so we peer in at it through a number of small windows ... We can eventually make quite a lot of sense of this habitat if we patiently put together the data from different angles. But if we insist that our own window is the only one worth looking through, we shall not get very far." [31]

She argued that, "acknowledging matter as somehow akin to and penetrated by mind is not adding a new ... assumption ... it is becoming aware of something we are doing already." She suggested that "this topic is essentially the one which caused Einstein often to remark that the really surprising thing about science is that it works at all ... the simple observation that the laws of thought turn out to be the laws of things." [32]

Midgley wrote her 2014 book, Are you an illusion? as a response to Francis Crick's argument in his book The Astonishing Hypothesis that a person's sense of personal identity and free will is no more than the behaviour of nerve cells. She attacks the understanding inherent in this argument that everything, including a sense of self, can be understood through its physical properties. [9] Instead, she argues that there are different levels of explanation, which need to be studied using different methods. This means that thoughts and memories are an integral part of reality for both humans and animals and need to be studied as such. [33]

Midgley–Dawkins debate

In volume 53 (1978) of Philosophy, the journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, J. L. Mackie published an article entitled The Law of the Jungle: Moral Alternatives and Principles of Evolution, praising Dawkins's The Selfish Gene , and discussing how its ideas might be applied to moral philosophy. [34] Midgley responded in volume 54 (1979) with "Gene-Juggling," arguing that The Selfish Gene was about psychological egoism, rather than evolution. [35] The paper criticised Dawkins' concepts, but was judged by its targets to be intemperate and personal in tone, and as having misunderstood Dawkins' ideas. Midgley disputed this view, arguing that while Dawkins purports to be talking about genes—that is, chemical arrangements—he nonetheless slides over to saying that "we are born selfish" (The Selfish Gene, p. 3).

She wrote that she had previously "not attended to Dawkins, thinking it unnecessary to 'break a butterfly upon a wheel'. But Mr Mackie's article is not the only indication I have lately met of serious attention being paid to his fantasies." [35] In a rejoinder in 1981, Dawkins retorted that the comment was "hard to match, in reputable journals, for its patronising condescension toward a fellow academic." [36] He wrote that she "raises the art of misunderstanding to dizzy heights. My central point had no connection with what she alleges. I am not even very directly interested in man, or at least not in his emotional nature. My book is about the evolution of life, not the ethics of one particular, rather aberrant, species." [36] In volume 58 (1983), Midgley replied again, in "Selfish Genes and Social Darwinism": "Apology is due, not only for the delay but for the impatient tone of my article. One should not lose one's temper, and doing so always makes for confused argument ... [but my] basic objections remain." [37]

The bad feeling between Dawkins and Midgley appeared not to diminish. In a note to page 55 in the 2nd edition of The Selfish Gene (1989), Dawkins refers to her "highly intemperate and vicious paper." Midgley continued to criticise Dawkins' ideas. In her books Evolution as a Religion (2002) and The Myths We Live By (2003), she writes about what she sees as his confused use of language—the sleight of hand involved in using terms such as "selfish" in different ways without alerting the reader to the change in meaning—and some of what she regards as his rhetoric ("genes exert ultimate power over behaviour"), which she argues is more akin to religion than science. She wrote in a letter to The Guardian in 2005:

[There is] widespread discontent with the neo-Darwinist—or Dawkinsist—orthodoxy that claims something which Darwin himself denied, namely that natural selection is the sole and exclusive cause of evolution, making the world therefore, in some important sense, entirely random. This is itself a strange faith which ought not to be taken for granted as part of science. [38]

In an interview with The Independent in September 2007, she argued that Dawkins' views on evolution are ideologically driven: "The ideology Dawkins is selling is the worship of competition. It is projecting a Thatcherite take on economics on to evolution. It's not an impartial scientific view; it's a political drama." [39] In April 2009 Midgley reiterated her critical interpretation of The Selfish Gene as part of a series of articles on Hobbes in The Guardian. [40] In her 2010 book The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene, she argues that "simple one-sided accounts of human motives, such as the "selfish gene" tendency in recent neo-Darwinian thought, may be illuminating but are always unrealistic." [41]

Midgley in art

Midgley is referred to in The Lives of Animals (1999), an unusual fictional work by the South African novelist J. M. Coetzee. The book has been likened to a cross between a short story and a philosophical dialogue, as Coetzee's protagonist, Elizabeth Costello, often speaks at length about philosophical ideas. Many reviewers expressed bafflement at the text, which has an enigmatic and riddling style. As one reviewer noted, "the reader is not quite sure whether he is intended to spot some confusion or contradiction or non-sequitur in [the protagonist's] arguments." [42] Other critics however have noted many affinities between The Lives of Animals and Midgley's philosophy, and have used Midgley's ideas to make sense of Coetzee's famously confusing work.

The main character, who also appears in Coetzee's novel Elizabeth Costello , is concerned with the moral status of animals, a subject Midgley addressed in Animals and Why They Matter, and discusses at length the idea of sympathy as an ethical concept, a subject Midgley wrote about in Beast and Man. Andy Lamey wrote that the result of these and other similarities is that Coetzee's work "evoke[s] a particular conception of ethics, one very similar to that of the philosopher Mary Midgley. Such a view affords a central role to sympathy and is fundamentally opposed to a long-standing rival view, most clearly exemplified by the social contract tradition, which prioritizes an instrumental conception of rationality." [43]

Coetzee and Midgley additionally shared a longstanding fascination with Robinson Crusoe. Coetzee retells the Crusoe story in his novel Foe , while Midgley wrote about Crusoe in her essay "Duties Concerning Islands." Midgley's essay argued for the idea that human beings can have ethical obligations to non-human entities such as animals and ecosystems, an idea also found in The Lives of Animals, Foe and many other works by Coetzee. [44]

Midgley agreed to sit for sculptor Jon Edgar in Newcastle during 2006, as part of the Environment Triptych, along with heads of Richard Mabey and James Lovelock. [45] This was exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2013. [46]


Selected articles


  1. 1 2 3 Motyka, John (15 October 2018). "Mary Midgley, 99, Moral Philosopher for the General Reader, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 October 2018. She was born Mary Scrutton on Sept. 13, 1919, in Dulwich, England, to Lesley (Hay) and Tom Scrutton.
  2. 1 2 Mary Midgley, The Essential Mary Midgley, Routledge, 2005, p. 143.
  3. 1 2 3 Brown, Andrew (13 January 2001). "Mary, Mary, quite contrary". The Guardian.
  4. Midgley, Mary (2005). The Owl of Minerva. Routledge. p. 62. ISBN   0-415-36788-3.
  5. Midgley, Mary (2005). The Owl of Minerva. Routledge. pp. 93–94. ISBN   0-415-36788-3.
  6. Midgley, Mary (2005). The Owl of Minerva. Routledge. p. 123. ISBN   0-415-36788-3.
  7. 1 2 3 Midgley, Mary (3 October 2005). "Proud not to be a doctor". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  8. "Obituary: Geoffrey Midgley".
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Anthony, Andrew (23 March 2014). "Mary Midgley: a late stand for a philosopher with soul". The Observer. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Honorary Fellow – Mary Midgley". Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  11. "Honorary Degrees – Durham University" . Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  12. "Philosophy Now Award" . Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  13. "Mary Midgley, 99, Moral Philosopher for the General Reader, Is Dead".
  14. Heal, Jane (12 October 2018). "Mary Midgley obituary". The Guardian.
  15. Else, Liz (3 November 2001). "Mary, Mary quite contrary". New Scientist.
  16. Midgley, Mary (2003). The myths we live by. p. 40.
  17. 1 2 McEachran, Alan (May 2009). "Mary Midgley" (PDF). Erasmus Darwin Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  18. 1 2 Midgley, Mary (2001). Gaia: The next big idea. Demos publications. p. 21. ISBN   1-84180-075-9. Archived from the original on 30 August 2005.
  19. Midgley, Mary (2001). Gaia: The next big idea. Demos publications. p. 24. ISBN   1-84180-075-9. Archived from the original on 30 August 2005.
  20. Wakeford, Tom (22 September 2000). "In a climate of change". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  21. Mary Midgley, ed. (2007). "Contributors". Earthly realism. Societas. p. vi. ISBN   978-1845400804.
  22. 1 2 "About us – Gaia Network" . Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  23. 1 2 Midgley, Mary (2001). Gaia: The next big idea. Demos publications. p. 11. ISBN   1-84180-075-9. Archived from the original on 30 August 2005.
  24. 1 2 Midgley, Mary (2001). Science and poetry. Routledge. p. 172. ISBN   978-0415378482.
  25. Midgley, Mary (2001). Science and poetry. Routledge. p. 198. ISBN   978-0415378482.
  26. Midgley, Mary (2001). Science and poetry. Routledge. p. 199. ISBN   978-0415378482.
  27. Midgley, Mary (2002). "New Introduction". Evolution as a Religion. p. ix.
  28. Midgley, Mary (2002). "New Introduction". Evolution as a Religion. p. iii.
  29. 1 2 Midgley, Mary (2002). "New Introduction". Evolution as a Religion. p. x.
  30. Midgley, Mary (2003). The myths we live by. p. 30.
  31. Midgley, Mary (2003). The myths we live by. pp. 26–27.
  32. Midgley 1992, p. 14
  33. Cave, Stephen (21 March 2014). "Review of Are you an illusion?". Financial Times. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  34. "Mackie 1978". Archived from the original on 31 October 2005. Retrieved 2005-09-25.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  35. 1 2 Midgley 1979.
  36. 1 2 Dawkins 1981 Archived 1 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  37. "Midgley 1983". Archived from the original on 31 October 2005. Retrieved 2005-09-25.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  38. "Letters: Designs on Darwinism". the Guardian. 5 September 2005.
  39. "Jackson, 3 January 2008".
  40. Midgley, Mary (20 April 2009). "Mary Midgley: Selfishness: where Dawkins got it wrong". the Guardian.
  41. The Solitary Self, publisher's description
  42. Lodge, David (November 20, 2003). "Disturbing the Peace - a review of Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee". The New York Review of Books . Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  43. Lamey 2010, p. 172; for similarities between Midley and Coetzee, see pp. 175–181
  44. Lamey 2010, p. 175
  45. Edgar 2008
  46. Jon Edgar - Sculpture Series Heads: Terracotta Portraits of Contributors to British Sculpture (2013) Scott, M., Hall, P., and Pheby, H. ISBN   978-0955867514

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A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture—often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

Speciesism special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership

Speciesism is a form of discrimination based on species membership. It involves treating members of one species as morally more important than members of other species even when their interests are equivalent. More precisely, speciesism is the failure to consider interests of equal strength to an equal extent because of the species of which the individuals are a member.

<i>The Selfish Gene</i> Book by Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene is a 1976 book on evolution by Richard Dawkins, in which the author builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's Adaptation and Natural Selection (1966). Dawkins uses the term "selfish gene" as a way of expressing the gene-centred view of evolution as opposed to the views focused on the organism and the group, popularising ideas developed during the 1960s by W. D. Hamilton and others. From the gene-centred view, it follows that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other.

J. L. Mackie Australian philosopher

John Leslie Mackie, FBA, was an Australian philosopher, originally from Sydney. He made significant contributions to the philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language, and is perhaps best known for his views on meta-ethics, especially his defence of moral scepticism.

George C. Williams (biologist) evolutionary biologist from the United States

George Christopher Williams was an American evolutionary biologist.

Social effects of evolutionary theory The effects on human societies of the scientific explanation of lifes diversity

The social effects of evolutionary thought have been considerable. As the scientific explanation of life's diversity has developed, it has often displaced alternative, sometimes very widely held, explanations. Because the theory of evolution includes an explanation of humanity's origins, it has had a profound impact on human societies. Some have vigorously denied acceptance of the scientific explanation due to its perceived religious implications. This has led to a vigorous conflict between creation and evolution in public education, primarily in the United States.

Michael Ruse, is a British-born Canadian philosopher of science who specializes in the philosophy of biology and works on the relationship between science and religion, the creation–evolution controversy, and the demarcation problem within science. Ruse currently teaches at Florida State University.

Gene-centered view of evolution Reasoning that since heritable information is passed from generation to generation almost exclusively by DNA, natural selection and evolution are best considered from the perspective of genes

The gene-centered view of evolution, gene's eye view, gene selection theory, or selfish gene theory holds that adaptive evolution occurs through the differential survival of competing genes, increasing the allele frequency of those alleles whose phenotypic trait effects successfully promote their own propagation, with gene defined as "not just one single physical bit of DNA [but] all replicas of a particular bit of DNA distributed throughout the world". The proponents of this viewpoint argue that, since heritable information is passed from generation to generation almost exclusively by DNA, natural selection and evolution are best considered from the perspective of genes.

<i>Elizabeth Costello</i> book by John Maxwell Coetzee

Elizabeth Costello is a 2003 novel by South African-born Nobel Laureate J. M. Coetzee.

Evolutionary ethics Field of inquiry that explores how evolutionary theory might bear on our understanding of ethics or morality.

Evolutionary ethics is a field of inquiry that explores how evolutionary theory might bear on our understanding of ethics or morality. The range of issues investigated by evolutionary ethics is quite broad. Supporters of evolutionary ethics have claimed that it has important implications in the fields of descriptive ethics, normative ethics, and metaethics.

Rational egoism Ethical theory

Rational egoism is the principle that an action is rational if and only if it maximizes one's self-interest. The view is a normative form of egoism. It is distinct from psychological egoism and ethical egoism.

Marian Dawkins British biologist

Marian Stamp Dawkins is a British biologist and professor of ethology at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include vision in birds, animal signalling, behavioural synchrony, animal consciousness and animal welfare.

Human nature is a bundle of characteristics, including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, which humans are said to have naturally. The term is often regarded as capturing what it is to be human, or the essence of humanity. The term is controversial because it is disputed whether or not such an essence exists. Arguments about human nature have been a mainstay of philosophy for centuries and the concept continues to provoke lively philosophical debate. The concept also continues to play a role in science, with neuroscientists, psychologists and social scientists sometimes claiming that their results have yielded insight into human nature. Human nature is traditionally contrasted with characteristics that vary among humans, such as characteristics associated with specific cultures. Debates about human nature are related to, although not the same as, debates about the comparative importance of genes and environment in development.

<i>Dawkins vs. Gould</i> Book by Kim Sterelny

Dawkins vs. Gould: Survival of the Fittest is a book about the differing views of biologists Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould by philosopher of biology Kim Sterelny. When first published in 2001 it became an international best-seller. A new edition was published in 2007 to include Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Theory finished shortly before his death in 2002, and more recent works by Dawkins. The synopsis below is from the 2007 publication.

Natural morality describes a form of morality that is based on how humans evolved, rather than a morality acquired from societal norms or religious teachings.

Richard Dawkins bibliography

The following list of publications by Richard Dawkins is a chronological list of papers, articles, essays and books published by British ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

Alice Crary American philosopher

Alice Crary is an American philosopher who is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford and also at the Graduate Faculty, The New School for Social Research in New York City, where she was the Philosophy Department Chair 2014-17 and founding Co-Chair of the Gender and Sexuality Studies program. For the academic year 2017-18, she was a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In the summer 2018 she was LFUI-Wittgenstein Guest Professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.

Wild animal suffering suffering experienced by nonhuman animals in nature through causes such as disease, injury, starvation, natural disasters, and killings by other animals

Wild animal suffering is the suffering experienced by nonhuman animals in nature through causes such as disease, injury, starvation, natural disasters, and killings by other animals. Wild animal suffering has historically been discussed in the context of philosophy of religion as an instance of the problem of evil. More recently, a number of academics have considered the suspected scope of the problem from a secular standpoint as a general moral issue, one that humans might be able to take action towards preventing.


Further reading