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Creation, Environment and Ethics: Some Cardiff-Based Contributions to Philosophy

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I have been asked to say a little about my research contributions to Philosophy, and am attempting here to comply with that request. (References in this chapter to writings of my own correspond to the list of publications presented elsewhere in this volume. A short bibliography of works of others referred to in this chapter can be found at its end.)

Philosophy students often think of their lecturers as teachers only, rather than as researchers too. My very first students would not have been too far out to think of me in this way, as I had until then published nothing in philosophy, although I had been doing philosophy research in the previous few months at the University of Manchester. That research was continued as my doctoral dissertation, which was entirely composed when I was already in post at Cardiff, having been appointed in January 1968. It was inspired by the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on secularisation, and concerned secularisation among philosophers from Bacon to Kant, with some amount of philosophy of religion and history and philosophy of science thrown in. The main theme was that theists can welcome secularisation (for example, critiques of religious claims, together with the practice that generates them) as opposed to secularism (a case of which would be the claim that science explains everything and thus leaves no room for religious belief). A second theme was that the critiques supplied by Hume and Kant of defences of theism from contemporary writers such as Samuel Clarke were inconclusive.

After the doctorate had been awarded in 1972, I tried for several years to find a publisher for a book that would be based on it, but succeeded only when University College Cardiff Press came into being in 1976. With them I published God and The Secular (1978), a slightly scaled-down version of the doctorate; UCCP insisted that the text be shortened by one sixth. Some thirty years later I was able to publish one of the omitted sections, on secularising critiques made of each other by Leibniz on the one hand and Clarke and Newton on the other (2005, actually published 2007). God and The Secular received several reviews, including a strongly adverse one from M.A. Stewart, who was understandably annoyed by shoddy work on the part of the publishers, who had sent out a review copy parts of which were printed upside down. Stewart, however, had a reputation for astringent reviews, and a few years later, when I met him, he retracted his adverse remarks, although only in a private conversation. Many years later, David Lamb arranged the republication of this book in 1993 under an Ashgate imprint called Gregg Revivals.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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