Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

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Mary Midgley

It is with great sadness that we pass on news of the death of one of the country's leading contemporary philosophers, Mary Midgley, on 10th October 2018 aged 99.

Mary taught philosophy at Newcastle University from 1962 until 1980, but it was really following her retirement that her career gained in momentum as an author of 15 books and countless reviews and articles, and as an outspoken public figure on radio and television. Mary Midgley has been called "the most frightening philosopher in the country" while The Guardian once described her as "a fiercely combative philosopher" and the UK's "foremost scourge of scientific pretension".

However, there was nothing fierce or frightening about Mary when you joined her for one of the regular meetings of the APIS group (Applied Philosophy Interest Section). Sitting in comfortable chairs in the sitting room of her home in Collingwood Terrace, sustained by tea and biscuits, you could expect a few hours of the most stimulation debate and discussion on topics that ranged from architecture to algebra. All subjects were treated philosophically and often focussed upon the ethical, in an atmosphere that encouraged the naïve questioner to speak up, producing a discussion that was always stimulating and often brilliant.

Mary was always a staunch supporter of the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre from its inception in 1999. Many of PEALS's research themes were topics close to her own interests and she was a frequent attendee at PEALS events.  Mary was made an Honorary Fellow of PEALS in 2008, the year in which the University also honoured her with Doctorate of Civil Law. Mary will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.

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