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Letter from British Philosophical Association to Vice-Chancellor

April 5, 2011

29 March 20110

Dear Baroness Blackstone, Prof. Jarvis and Prof. Finkelstein I am writing to you as Director of the British Philosophical Association, and on behalf of the Heads of UK Philosophy Departments (or rough equivalents) listed below.

We understand that the University of Greenwich has decided to withdraw its Philosophy single Honours degree programme with immediate effect, and urge you to reconsider this decision.

Philosophy has been taught in universities for over 900 years. It addresses questions that continue to be central to our understanding of the world and our place within it. The core aim of any self-respecting university should be the pursuit of knowledge; but philosophy is unique in addressing the question of what knowledge itself is. It also considers – amongst other things – how human beings should behave, both individually and collectively; whether there are grounds for religious belief; the nature of truth and beauty; and the principles of sound reasoning.

Philosophy also teaches students clarity of thought across the entire spectrum of abstract reasoning; it teaches the application of the abstract to the particular; it teaches argumentative rigour; and encourages both proper tolerance towards and critical inspection of other points of view.

We believe that studying Philosophy should be an opportunity that is available as widely as possible, and the new universities – including Greenwich – play a vital role in this. They have broad access to parts of the community where the appeal of the ‘old’ universities is very limited; moreover, philosophy is a subject that can be studied from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Over the last ten years or so, demand for Philosophy degrees has increased enormously, thanks at least in part to a doubling of the number of students taking ‘A’ Level Philosophy between 2002 and 2007.

We urge you to reconsider closing your single Honours Philosophy programme. If we can be of any assistance in this matter, we would of course be happy to help in any way we can. For example, if you decide to conduct a review of your Philosophy provision, we would be happy to provide names of suitable external reviewers.

Yours sincerely

Prof. Helen Beebee, Director, BPA

And on behalf of:Prof. Simon Blackburn FBA (Chair of the Faculty Board of Philosophy, University of Cambridge) Prof. Robert Hopkins (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield) Dr. C. S. Jenkins (Head, Philosophy Department, University of Nottingham) Prof. Terence Irwin FBA (Chair, Board of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford) Prof. Daniel Isaacson (Chair, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford) Prof. Luc Bovens (Head, Department of Philosophy, Logic & Scientific Method, LSE) Dr. Brendan Larvor (Subject Leader for Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire) Prof. Ian Rumfitt (Head, Department of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London) Dr. Alessandra Tanesini (Director of Teaching and Deputy Head, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University) Dr. Jens Timmermann (Head, Departments of Logic & Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy, University of St. Andrews) Prof. Tom Stoneham (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of York) Dr Alison Ainley (Head of Humanities and Social Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University) Prof. Alex Miller (Head, Philosophy Department, University of Birmingham) Dr. Cristina Chimisso (Head, Department of Philosophy, Open University) Prof. Emma Borg (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Reading) Prof. David Papineau (Head, Philosophy Department, King’s College London) Dr. Ullrich M. Haase (Section Head, Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University) Dr. Lars Iyer (Programme Director, Philosophical Studies, University of Newcastle) Prof. Aaron Ridley (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton) Prof. Graeme Gooday (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds) Dr. Jim Grant (Course Leader, Philosophy, London Metropolitan University) Prof. James Ladyman (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol) Dr. John Collins (Head, School of Philosophy, University of East Anglia) Prof. Douglas Burnham (Head, Department of English, Creative Writing and Philosophy, University of Staffordshire) Prof. Peter Sullivan (Head, Philosophy, University of Stirling) Dr. Raj Sehgal (Programme Convenor, Philosophy, Theology & Religious Studies, University of Roehampton) Prof. Quassim Cassam (Head, Philosophy Department, University of Warwick) Prof. Bob Brecher (Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics & Ethics, University of Brighton) Dr. Stephen Burwood (Philosophy, University of Hull) Dr. Kathleen Stock (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Sussex) Prof. Matthew Ratcliffe (Head, Philosophy Department, Durham University) Dr. Beth Lord (Philosophy Programme Convenor, University of Dundee) Prof. Dory Scaltsas (Acting Head of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh) Prof. Catherine Wilson (Head of Philosophy, University of Aberdeen) Prof. Mark Addis (Faculty of Media, Performance and English, Birmingham City University) Dr. Gideon Calder (Director, Social Ethics Research Group, University of Wales Newport) Dr. Sorin Baiasu (Philosophy Programme Director, Keele University) Prof. Alan Weir (Head of Philosophy, University of Glasgow) Prof. Julian Dodd (Head of Philosophy, University of Manchester) Prof. Tim Thornton (Professor of Philosophy & Mental Health, UCLAN) Dr. Iain Grant (Philosophy Field Leader, UWE) Prof. Wayne Martin (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Essex) Dr. David Morgans (Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Wales, Trinity St. David) Prof. Cynthia Macdonald (Director of Research, Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast)