Richard Mervyn Hare, 1919–2002

A. W. Price

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 124. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, III

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263204
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734205 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Richard Mervyn Hare, 1919–2002

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Richard Hare's ambition was to have united elements from Aristotle, Kant and Mill in a logically cogent way that solved the fundamental problems of ethics (though with unfinished business); and he usually believed himself to have achieved this. For much of his career, his ‘prescriptivism’ formed an important part of the curriculum, certainly in Britain. His disappointment was not to have persuaded others (an occasional ‘we prescriptivists’ was always uncertain of reference), and to have left no disciples; he once told John Lucas that this made his life a failure. Yet he leaves behind generations of pupils grateful for the transmission not of a doctrine but of a discipline; and posterity, while unlikely to ratify the logical validity of his theory, will admire it for its uniting of apparent opposites: freedom and reason, tradition and rationalism, eclecticism and rigour.

Keywords: ethics; prescriptivism; freedom; reason; tradition; rationalism; eclecticism; rigour

Chapter.  9354 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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