Biographical Information

Professor Alan Musgrave is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished philosophers, establishing a strong international reputation in the philosophy of science. He is one of the leading exponents of critical rationalism and a staunch defender of scientific realism against various forms of instrumentalism and constructive empiricism. His articles in top journals (the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, The Philosophical Quarterly, and Philosophy), along with his contributions to many distinguished edited collections, show a clarity of thought and expression and the concern for careful interpretation of the arguments of others that is at the heart of good philosophical scholarship.

Professor Musgrave began his career at the London School of Economics as one of Sir Karl Popper’s two or three foremost disciples. Along with Imre Lakatos, he began the Popperian critique of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; together they edited Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (1970), which dominated discussion of Kuhn for years afterward (and was translated into six other languages). Later Professor Musgrave developed his own approach to epistemology and scientific method, attending to the nature of true theories and the role of supporting evidence, and emphasizing evidence that arises from attempts to falsify the theory. While an assiduous writer of articles (over 60 chapters, articles and conference papers), he has also produced three books, Common Sense, Science and Scepticism (1993), Essays on Realism and Rationalism (1999), and most recently Secular Sermons: Essays on Science and Philosophy (2009), which have been widely admired.

In addition, he has written on the philosophy of economics, the philosophy of mathematics, and the history and philosophy of biology. He serves on the editorial boards of seven international journals; he is frequently sought for seminars and plenary papers; he was for many years Head of Philosophy at Otago University; he has supervised numerous doctoral theses; and his peers praise fulsomely his continuing collegial leadership in both international and local contexts.