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Professor John Worrall

John Worrall joined the London School of Economics and Political Science as an undergraduate in 1965, initially as a student of statistics. But, seduced by Karl Popper's lectures, soon switched to a course that was part statistics and mathematics and part philosophy. He came under the influence of Imre Lakatos - who tried to convert him to his own brand of 24 hour a day philosophy. He studied for a PhD under Lakatos - developing the latter's methodology of research programmes and testing it against a detailed case history from 19th century physics.

Worrall was appointed to a Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method lectureship at LSE in 1971, becoming Professor in 1998. Having for many years played the cricket of pure reason for the LSE Staff Cricket XI, his chief Departmental role is now as leader of its rock n roll band (The Critique of Pure Rhythm - name not his idea). Worrall's main intellectual interests are in theory-change in science - and its impact on the twin theses of scientific rationality and scientific realism. More recently he has developed a major interest in methodological and philosophical issues in medicine  particularly concerned with clinical trials and the general issue of the warrant for causal claims in medicine.

He was for 10 years the editor of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, has held visiting fellowships at the Universities of Pittsburgh and of Otago, and has lectured around the world - in the USA, China, South America, Australia and New Zealand as well as Eastern and Western Europe. He is former President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science.

Areas of expertise:

  • Philosophy of science
  • Theory change in science
  • Nineteenth century optics
  • Philosophy and methodology of medicine (especially the scope and limits of scientific method)
  • Evidence-based medicine

For more, see the experts page|.

In the first video below, John discusses his research interests. The second is about the history of the department.

 John is lead guitarist for the Department's rock and roll band Critique of Pure Rhythm, and wrote the words and music for their song Structural realism blues which you can listen to here|.