Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D.H. Mellor

By Hallvard Lillehammer; Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra | Go to book overview

Introduction

Hallvard Lillehammer and Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra

The following chapters, all previously unpublished, have been written in honour of Hugh Mellor, who has recently retired as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. The chapters are all concerned with metaphysical topics about which Mellor has written. They are followed by Mellor's replies.

Hugh Mellor was born in London on 10 July 1938. He read Natural Sciences and Chemical Engineering at Pembroke College, Cambridge, from 1956 to 1960. His first formal study of philosophy was in the United States, where, on a Harkness Fellowship (1960-2), he studied for an MSc degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. While there, he completed a Minor in Philosophy of Science under Herbert Feigl. Later, after a year working for ICI as a chemical engineer, he returned to Pembroke in 1963 as a PhD student, supervised by Mary Hesse, and submitted his thesis, 'The Matter of Chance', in 1968. He became a Research Fellow of Pembroke in 1964, and University Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Philosophy in 1965. In 1986 he was elected Professor of Philosophy, a chair from which he retired in 1999. After his retirement he was University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research for two years, 2000-1. He has been a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge, since 1970, and became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1983.

Hugh Mellor's contribution to philosophy is rich, varied and original. In the early 1980s, with the publication of Real Time (Mellor 1981), he revived the debate on McTaggart's paradox about the A-series and became one of the main defenders of the B-theory of time. He revised and refined his position in Real Time II (Mellor 1998). He has also developed an original theory of causation (Mellor 1995), according to which causes raise the chances of their effects and facts can be causes and effects. In addition, he has produced original and influential work on dispositions, laws, properties and mind. Probability has been another continuous interest. The Matter of Chance (Mellor 1971) was his first published book, and he is currently co-writing a textbook on probability with Arnold Koslow.

In all his writings Mellor has remained faithful to the Cambridge tradition of straight thinking, clear writing and sharp argument. Mellor is a combative philosopher, and this feature is present in the replies to the chapters in the present volume. Yet Mellor does not pursue philosophical combat for its

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