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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 124. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, III$
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P. J. Marshall

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263204

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263204.001.0001

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Richard Mervyn Hare, 1919–2002

Richard Mervyn Hare, 1919–2002

(p.115) (p.116) Richard Mervyn Hare, 1919–2002
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 124. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, III

A. W. Price

British Academy

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

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