World-first philosophical centre to open

Wednesday 5 November 2003

A new £1.3 million AHRB Research Centre which will address fundamental questions in the philosophy of logic, language, mathematics and mind, has been established at the University of St Andrews.

The centre, which will be officially opened tomorrow (Thursday 6th November), will be the only research centre of its kind in the world, and as well as addressing questions of philosophical importance, it will act as a training ground for young philosophers of the future.

Named Arché after the ancient Greek term for ‘knowledge’ or ‘first principle ‘, the Centre is funded by the AHRB (Arts and Humanities Research Board), and is the first AHRB Research Centre dedicated to the study of philosophy in the UK.

The work of the new centre will include collaborative investigations into two of the most philosophically problematic but fundamental ideas implicated in ordinary talk and thought: notions of modality (necessity and possibility) and the notion of vagueness.

Arché: the AHRB Research Centre for the Philosophy of Logic, Language, Mathematics & Mind will be directed by Professor Crispin Wright, Wardlaw Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the School of Philosophical and Anthropological Studies.

He said: “Notions of modality are implicit in our ideas of cause and freedom, avoidability and inevitability, what it is for the conclusion of an argument to follow from its premise, the idea of a law of nature, the idea of an accident, and the necessary truth of fundamental mathematics, yet their clarification presents an unsolved philosophical challenge.

“Vagueness, which scientific and mathematical languages try to avoid yet which permeates almost all our ordinary thought and talk, is arguably unavoidable yet gives rise to serious paradoxes. Our hope is to make progress on these fundamental problems by the unprecedented step of bringing together distinguished senior and outstanding junior researchers to work collaboratively on an agreed programme of issues.”

Run in partnership with the AHRB and the University of Glasgow, Arché currently hosts a special project funded by the AHRB, on the Logical and Metaphysical Foundations of Classical Mathematics, in addition to those on Modality and Vagueness, with dedicated doctoral, postdoctoral and professorial fellows living and working in St. Andrews. The conferences, workshops and seminars organised by the Centre have already drawn a distinguished body of international researchers from Australia, Europe and the U.S.A.

The official opening of Arché: the AHRB Research Centre will be marked by a public lecture by the philosopher Professor Simon Blackburn from the University of Cambridge. Professor Blackburn will talk on the subject of “Reasons, Causes and Nature”.

Arché was initially founded in 1998 with resources made available by Professor Wright’s Leverhulme Research Professorship. In 2000 Arché was awarded a £450,000 five- year Research Grant by the AHRB for a project on the logical and metaphysical foundations of classical mathematics.

For further information about the Centre and its activities see:

The opening lecture, “Reasons, Causes and Nature”, by Professor Blackburn is open to the public and free of charge. It will be held in School III, St. Salvator’s Quad, North Street, St Andrews at 5.15 p.m. on Thursday 6th November, with a reception in Lower College Hall afterwards.



The Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) funds postgraduate and advanced research within the UK’s higher education institutions. All AHRB awards are made on the basis of academic excellence.

For further information on the AHRB contact: Angela Murphy, Director of Corporate Communications on 0117 987 6775, [email protected] or go to:

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected] Ref: Arche Opening pr 051103 View the latest University news at

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