New Appointments: President, Director, Editors

Professor John Haldane FRSE of the University of St Andrews and Baylor University USA, and Chair of the Royal Institute of Philosophy is delighted to announce that following the recent election of Baroness Onora O’Neill FRS, FBA, as its new President, The Royal Institute of Philosophy has appointed Dr Julian Baggini as its new Academic Director to “organise and promote … the advancement of Philosophical Studies.” and Professor Maria Alvarez and Professor Bill Brewer of Kings College London as editors of its historic journal Philosophy (published by Cambridge University Press).


Onora O’Neill who is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, was formerly Principal of Newnham College Cambridge, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, President of the British Academy and winner of the recently established $1  million Berggruen Prize. She states: “I am in full sympathy with the aims of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and am honoured to be elected President in succession to Lord Sutherland”.

Julian Baggini, co-founder and editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine, is a prolific freelance philosopher whose books include How the World Thinks and The Edge of Reason. He comments: “The RIP has an important role promoting and championing philosophy in a country that underlies the subject,” says Baggini. “I’m looking forward to building the strong platform built by my predecessor, Prof. Anthony O’Hear and the Chair, Prof. John Haldane. We have the potential and capabilities to make philosophy a much more significant part of the national conversation.”

Maria Alvarez and Bill Brewer comment: “This is a tremendous opportunity and we feel honoured to be trusted with it. Since its first issue in January 1926, Philosophy has published excellent articles making original contributions to the great philosophical themes while being accessible to a wide, non-specialist audience. As we embark on this new phase of the journal, we shall aim to consolidate and renew its distinctive remit, attracting outstanding submissions from the widest range of contributors, ensuring rigorous standards, and continuing to show the immediate relevance of philosophy to all current human concerns.”

Dr Baggini will take up his post on 1 April, when Prof. Anthony O’Hear retires after 25 years in the role as Academic Director. Professors Alvarez and Brewer will take up their posts in July, when Prof. Anthony O’Hear retires after 25 years in the role as Editor of Philosophy.

John Haldane writes: After a quarter century serving as Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and as editor of its journal Philosophy, Professor Anthony O’Hear OBE, is retiring from these positions. We are grateful for his years of service and look forward to a new phase in the history of an institution that is approaching its centenary.

The Institute originated in 1925 as the ‘British Institute of Philosophical Studies’ acquiring the title ‘The Royal Institute of Philosophy’ in 1947. Its founders included the former Conservative Prime Minister Lord Balfour, the Labour economic and political theorist Harold Laski, and the Liberal political theorist L.T. Hobhouse, as well as the philosophers Samuel AlexanderBertrand Russell, and Sydney Hooper, the last of whom served as the first editor of Philosophy. More recently its presidents have included Lord Quinton (1991-2006), Sir Anthony Kenny (2006-09), and Lord Sutherland (2009-18).

The first issue of the journal carried an editorial referring to the purposes of the Institute and of what was then titled The Journal of Philosophical Studies: “The British Institute of Philosophical Studies was formed with the object of promoting the advancement of philosophical studies by teaching, discussion and research. … A journal which is to prove of value to the many must avoid being too severely technical, and aim at making philosophy intelligible to the well-informed student. This will be a guiding principle in the general policy of the Journal and in every number it is hoped to have articles which can be fully appreciated by every educated person. No philosophical periodical, however, would be fulfilling its complete function if it did not welcome original contributions to any of the great themes with which Philosophy deals.

Close to a century later, many aspects of university scholarship and research, and of the general culture have changed, but the Royal Institute of Philosophy and Philosophy remain committed to the task of promoting general interest in philosophy presented in ways that minimize technicality and avoid narrow specialization, as well as presenting original work of the highest intellectual standard. Philosophy is subscribed to by over two and a half thousand individuals and libraries across the world.