Laurence Jonathan Cohen 1923–2006

Issac Levi

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 153 Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, VII

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264348
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734250 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Laurence Jonathan Cohen 1923–2006

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Laurence Jonathan Cohen (1923–2006), a Fellow of the British Academy, was one of two sons of Israel Cohen and Theresa Jacobs. His parents were orthodox Jews who were active in the World Zionist Movement. Although Cohen gradually became less strict in his observance, he remained committed to his Jewish origins both in his private and his public life. He was educated at St Paul's School in London, where he excelled at mathematics and classics. Cohen went up to Balliol College, Oxford, in 1939 planning to read Greats. He served as Chair of the British Academy's Philosophy Section from 1993 to 1996. For several years after his official retirement, Cohen served as placement officer for the philosophy faculty at the University of Oxford. He offered a compelling case, holding that both in the natural sciences and in the law, one should accept a proposition if its Baconian probability is sufficiently high rather than the Pascalian probability. Cohen's central and original contributions are to the philosophy of inductive reasoning.

Keywords: Laurence Jonathan Cohen; British Academy; Balliol College; University of Oxford; probability; inductive reasoning; philosophy; Israel Cohen; Theresa Jacobs

Chapter.  5546 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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