Event date: 4 November 2010
18:00 Beveridge Hall, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1 7HU
Keynote address by:
Professor Onora O’Neill, Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve – ‘The Two Cultures Fifty Years On’
In his 1959 Rede lecture The Two Cultures C.P. Snow contrasted what he called ‘the traditional culture’ of literary study with the culture of natural science, and judged them wholly different in approach and achievements. The scientific culture, as he saw it, was rigorous and productive; the literary culture was neither. However, if we consider the approaches and methods actually used by inquiry in the humanities and in the natural sciences we find many similarities. In both domains inquiry relies on interpretation and inference, makes and seeks to support empirical truth claims and deploys and defends normative assumptions. It is hardly surprising that no single or simple conception of ‘impact’ can do justice to the diversity of work undertaken in either culture.
Onora O’Neill writes on ethics and political philosophy, including the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, questions of international justice, issues of trust and accountability, as well as medical and research ethics. She was Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1992-2006, is professor emeritus in the Faculty of Philosophy in Cambridge and was President of the British Academy from 2005-9. She is a crossbench member of the House of Lords (Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve).
Introduction by Dr Miranda Fricker (Birkbeck)