Department of Moral Philosophy

Scope and Content

Student records 1876-1965.

Administrative / Biographical History

Philosophy has been taught at the University of Glasgow since its foundation in 1451  . Indeed the Faculty of Arts was to a large extent a faculty of Philosophy, and was often referred to as such until the end of the seventeenth century. Under the University's new Charter in 1577  , the Nova Erectio, the teaching of Moral Philosophy, Logic and Natural Philosophy was shared among the Regents. Each Regent took one year's intake of students through the entire four-year curriculum. The Principal, Andrew Melville attempted to reform this system, allowing greater specialisation in a subject, but with limited success.

The modern era of Philosophical study at Glasgow University began with the abolition of the Regenting system in 1727  when separate Chairs were instituted and the Regents became the first incumbents of them. Two Chairs were founded: the Chair of Logic and Rhetoric with John Loudon ( 1727-1751  ) as the first professor, and the Chair of Moral Philosophy with Gerschom Carmichael ( 1727-1730  ) as the first professor. The Logic class was concerned with Logic, Metaphysics, Psychology, and Rhetoric, and the Moral Philosophy class was concerned with Ethics, Jurisprudence, Natural Theology, and Political Economy. Notable holders of the Chair of Moral Philosophy have included Francis Hutcheson ( 1730-1746  ), Adam Smith ( 1752-1764  ), and Thomas Reid ( 1764-1796  ). A full list of the University's professors from 1451  to 2001  can be found at  .

In 1892  a Lectureship in Political Economy was established with William Smart as Lecturer. In 1896  this was raised to a Chair, and would in time develop into the Department of Economics. William Smart ( 1896-1915  ) was the first Professor of Political Economy.

In 1909  a Lectureship in Political Philosophy was founded with funds raised to commemorate Edward Caird , Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University ( 1866-1893  ). The first Lecturer in Political Philosophy was Robert Alexander Duff ( 1909-1926  ). In 1960  this became an independent department with the replacement of the Lectureship with the Chair in Political and Social Theory. The Chair was renamed twice, first to Political and Social Philosophy in 1965  , and finally to Politics in 1970  . The first holder of the Chair was David Daiches Raphael ( 1960-1970  ).

In 1984  the Department of Moral Philosophy and the Department of Logic merged to form the Department of Philosophy. There are four Chairs of Philosophy within the Department: Moral, Logic and Rhetoric, Metaphysical (founded in 1995  with the appointment of Robert L. V. Hale ), and Ancient. Teaching and research includes Metaphysics, Ethics, Epistemology (Theory of Knowledge), Logic, Aesthetics, Political Philosophy, the Philosophy of Language, and the History of Philosophy.

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University of Glasgow

Subfonds level description compiled by Natalie Milne, archives assistant, January 2002  and John O'Brien, archives assistant, October 2002  .