Lecturers & Authors

George Henrik von Wright

Professor of Philosophy, University of Helsinki
1916 to 2003

The Finnish philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright, Gifford lecturer in 1959 and 1960, was one of the most prominent European philosophers of the 20th century. He was perhaps best known for his connections with Wittgenstein as student colleague and after the latter’s death as executor. Von Wright’s work much of which was greatly influenced by Wittgenstein included important writings on logic philosophy of science modality philosophy of mind and ethics.

Conrad Hal Waddington

Professor of Genetics, University of Edinburgh
1905 to 1975

Conrad Hal Waddington was born in Evesham on 8 November 1905 to Hal and Mary Ellen (Warner) Waddington. He spent his first few years on a tea estate in South India, where his father was a tea planter. He married Justin, daughter of the writer Amber Reeves, and is the father of mathematician Dusa McDuff and anthropologist Caroline Humphrey.

Jeremy Waldron

University Professor, New York University School of Law

Jeremy Waldron teaches legal and political philosophy at NYU School of Law. Until recently, he was also Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University (All Souls College). A prolific scholar, Waldron has written extensively on jurisprudence and political theory, including numerous books and articles on theories of rights, constitutionalism, the rule of law, democracy, property, torture, security, homelessness, and the philosophy of international law.

William Wallace

Whyte's Professor of Moral Philosophy, Oxford
1844 to 1897

Professor William Wallace was born at Cupar, Fife, Scotland, on 11 May 1843. His parents, James Cooper Wallace (a successful master-builder) and Jean (née Kelloch), had a reputation for industriousness and eccentricity, choosing to put most of their energies into raising their five children, rather than mingling with their neighbours. As a boy, Wallace attended Madras Academy in Cupar, followed by four years at the University of St. Andrews. Unlike many of his colleagues at St.

Keith Ward

Regius Professor of Divinity, Christ Church, Oxford

John Stephen Keith Ward (better known as Keith Ward), Gresham Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London, was born on 22 August 1938, in Hexham, Northumberland. He and his wife Marian (née Trotman) have a son, Alun James Kendal, and a daughter, Fiona Caroline. After education at Hexham Grammar School, Ward went to the University of Wales, Cardiff, from which he graduated with a B.A. He then went to Linacre College, Oxford (MA, Blitt) and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (MA, DD). Between 1964 and 1969 he was lecturer in Logic at the University of Glasgow.

James Ward

Professor of Mental Philosophy and Logic, Cambridge
1843 to 1925

James Ward was born on 27 January 1843 in Hull. His parents were Hannah Aston and James Ward, a repeatedly unsuccessful entrepreneur. Due to his family’s financial difficulties, Ward’s schooling ended at the age of thirteen. At fifteen he entered into an apprenticeship to a firm of architects, where he remained for four years, while also serving as a Sunday school teacher. Much to the approval of his Congregationalist family, in 1863 he decided to pursue a career in the ministry.

Mary Warnock

Mistress of Griton College, Cambridge

Mary Warnock, philosopher, was born Helen Mary Wilson on 14 April 1924 in Winchester. Her father was a housemaster at Winchester, but died seven months before Mary was born; her mother never remarried. Mary was educated at St. Swithun’s, an Anglican school where she concentrated on classics. She won a scholarship to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and began her studies there in 1942. One of her closest friends during this time was Charles de Gaulle’s daughter Elisabeth.

John Watson

Professor of Moral Philosophy, Queen's University, Kingston Canada
1847 to 1939

John Watson, philosopher and professor of moral philosophy in Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, was born 25 February 1847 in the parish of Gorbals, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, eldest of four children of John and Elizabeth (née Robertson) Watson. His father, a block printer, came from a family of farmers in Lanarkshire.


Clement Charles Julian Webb

Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford
1865 to 1954

Clement Charles Julian Webb was born in London on 25 June 1865. He received his early education at Westminster School where he earned numerous distinctions before becoming school captain in 1883. His relationship with the school endured throughout his life and he became its governor in later years.

Michael Welker

Senior Professor, University of Heidelberg; Executive Director, FIIT

Michael Welker is a Senior Professor at the University of Heidelberg and the Executive Director of FIIT, The Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology. For his first of two PhDs at Tübingen, his advisor was theologian Jürgen Moltmann, who delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 1984-1985. Professor Welker is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

From the University of Heidelberg website:

Alfred North Whitehead

Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University
1861 to 1947

Alfred North Whitehead was born 15 February 1861 in Ramsgate, Isle of Thanet, England, the youngest of four children to the Reverend Alfred Whitehead and his wife, Maria Sarah. On 16 December 1890 he married Evelyn Ada Maud Rice (1865-1950), with whom he had a daughter Jessie and two sons, North and Eric. Whitehead died on 30 December 1947 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recognized as one of the twentieth century’s foremost mathematicians, philosophers and metaphysicians.

John Wisdom

Lecturer in Moral Science, Cambridge
1904 to 1993

John Wisdom was born 12 September 1904 in Leyton Essex. His father was a Church of England clergyman. The family settled in Bury St Edmunds in 1909 where John received his early schooling.

Nicholas Wolterstorff

Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale University

To what does Nicholas Wolterstorff credit his vast and multiform philosophical achievements that have launched him as one of the most distinguished Christian philosophers of our day? Above all else, he points to his Dutch reformed heritage, heavily influenced by the thought of Abraham Kuyper. A Kuyperian vision of rigorous practical and intellectual Christian cultural engagement serves as a foundation and impulse for Wolterstorff, launching him into every corner of the philosophical arena, from ethics, metaphysics and epistemology, to politics, art and education.

Nicholas Thomas Wright

Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity

Nicholas Thomas (‘Tom’) Wright, a native of Northumberland, took a ‘double first’ in classics and theology from Oxford before completing his doctorate on Pauline theology. He taught New Testament for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities, and worked in various ordained roles, before becoming successively Dean of Lichfield in 1994, Canon of Westminster in 2000, and Bishop of Durham in 2003. Since 2010 he has been Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews.

John Zachary Young

Professor Emeritus of Anatomy and Embryology, University College, London
1907 to 1997

John Zachary Young was born in Bristol on 18 March 1907 to Constance and Philip Young, an engineer. John was schooled at home until the age of nine, when he was sent to a boarding school in Worcestershire. At thirteen he attended Marlborough College. In 1925 he entered Magdalen College, Oxford where he studied zoology and achieved a first in 1928.

Robert Charles Zaehner

Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, Oxford
1913 to 1974

Robert Charles Zaehner was born on 8 April 1913 in Kent. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, from 1933 to 1937, where he studied Greek, Latin, Persian and Avestan, eventually obtaining first class honours in oriental languages. His expertise in this area led to his being recruited by the British Special Operations Executive during World War II. He served in the British embassy in Tehran from 1943 to 1947, during which time he adopted the Catholic faith which was to shape much of his later work.

Linda Zagzebski

Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Oklahoma University

Linda Zagzebski is George Lynn Cross Research Professor and Kingfisher College Chair of the Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at the University of Oklahoma. She received her B.A. from Stanford University, her M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles. A native Californian, she taught at Loyola Marymount University for twenty years before moving to Oklahoma.