Flew, Antony G(arrard) N(ewton) 1923-

views updated

FLEW, Antony G(arrard) N(ewton) 1923-

PERSONAL: Born February 11, 1923, in London, England; son of Robert Newton (a minister) and Alice Winifred (Garrard) Flew; married Annis Ruth Harty Donnison (a school teacher); children: Harriet Rebecca, Joanna Naomi. Education: St. John's College, Oxford, M.A. (with first-class honors), 1948. Politics: Conservative. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, walking, house maintenance.

ADDRESSES: Home—26 Alexandra Rd., Reading RG1 5PD, England.

CAREER: Oxford University, Christ Church, Oxford, England, lecturer in philosophy, 1949-50; University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland, lecturer in moral philosophy, 1950-54; University of Keele, Keele, England, professor of philosophy, 1954-71; University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, professor of philosophy, 1972-73; University of Reading, Reading, England, professor of philosophy, 1973-82, professor emeritus, 1982—. Visiting professor at New York University, 1958, Swarthmore College, 1961, University of Pittsburgh, 1965, University of Malawi, 1967, University of Maryland, 1970, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1971, and University of CaliforniaSan Diego, 1978-79; York University (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983, 1986, and 1985; Gavin David Young Lecturer, University of Adelaide, 1963. Distinguished research fellow, Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University, part-time, 1983-91. Has participated in talks and discussions on radio and television in England, Zambia, Australia, Canada, and United States. Military service: Royal Air Force, Intelligence, 1943-45.

MEMBER: Mind Association, Aristotelian Society, Rationalist Press Association (vice-president, 1972-88), Freedom Association (member of council), Voluntary Euthanasia Society (chairman of executive committee, 1976-79).

AWARDS, HONORS: John Locke Prize, Oxford University, 1948; D.Litt., University of Keele, 1974; Laureate of the Academy of Humanism, 1983; In Praise of Reason Award, 1985; Richard M. Weaver Award, 1998; James Wilbur Award, 1999; Schlarbaum Laureate, 2001.


A New Approach to Psychical Research, C. A. Watts (London, England), 1953.

Hume's Philosophy of Belief, Humanities Press (New York, NY), 1961.

God and Philosophy, Hutchinson (London, England), 1966, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1967, revised edition published as God: A Philosophical Critique, Open Court (La Salle, IL), 1984.

Evolutionary Ethics, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1967.

An Introduction to Western Philosophy, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1971.

Crime Punishment and Disease?, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1973, with a new introduction, Transaction Publishers (New Brunswick, NJ), 2002.

Thinking about Thinking, Collins, 1975, published as Thinking Straight, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1977.

The Presumption of Atheism (philosophical essays), Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1976, published as God, Freedom and Immortality, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1984.

Sociology, Equality and Education (philosophical essays), Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1976.

(With T. B. Warren) The Warren-Flew Debate on the Existence of God, National Christian Press (Jonesboro, AR), 1977.

A Rational Animal (philosophical essays), Clarendon Press (London, England), 1978.

Philosophy: An Introduction, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1979.

The Politics of Procrustes (philosophical essays), Temple Smith, 1981.

Thinking about Social Thinking, Basil Blackwell (New York, NY), 1985.

Darwinian Evolution, Granada Paladin (London, England), 1985, republished with a new introduction, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 1997.

David Hume: Philosopher of Moral Science, Basil Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1986.

(With Godfrey Vesey) Agency and Necessity, Basil Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1987.

The Logic of Mortality, Basil Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1987, republished with a new introduction as Merely Mortal?: Can You Survive Your Own Death?, Prometheus (Amherst, NY), 2001.

Power to the Parents: Reversing Educational Decline, Sherwood (London, England), 1987.

Equality in Liberty and Justice, Routledge (New York, NY), 1989.

(With Terry Miethe) Does God Exist?: A Believer and an Atheist Debate, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1991.

Aetheistic Humanism, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1993.

Shephard's Warning: Setting Schools Back on Course, Adam Smith Institute (London, England), 1994.

How to Think Straight: An Introduction to Critical Reasoning, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 1998.

Philosophical Essays, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Lanham, MD), 1998.

(With William Lane Craig and Terry Miethe) Does God Exist?: The Craig-Flew Debate, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2003.

Social Life and Moral Judgement, Transaction (New Brunswick, NJ), 2003.


(And author of introduction) Logic and Language, Humanities (New York, NY), Volume 1, 1951, Volume 2, 1953.

(With A. C. MacIntyre) New Essays in Philosophical Theology, Macmillan (London, England), 1955.

Essays in Conceptual Analysis, Macmillan (London, England), 1956.

(And author of introduction) Hume on Human Nature and Understanding, Collier, 1962.

(And author of introduction) Body, Mind and Death, Macmillan (London, England), 1964.

(And author of introduction) Malthus: An Essay on the Principle of Population, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1971.

(And contributor) A Dictionary of Philosophy, Macmillan (London, England), 1979.

Philosophical Problems of Parapsychology, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1987.

(And author of introduction) Hume's Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Open Court (La Salle, IL), 1988.

(And author of introduction) Hume's Writings on Religion, Open Court (La Salle, IL), 1992.

Contributor to books, including Religious Belief and Philosophical Thought, edited by W. P. Alston, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1963; Philosophy andParapsychology, edited by J. K. Ludwig, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1977; Sidney Hook: Philosopher of Democracy and Humanism, edited by P. Kurtz, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1983; Philosophy in the United Kingdom Today, edited by S. Shanker, Croom Helm, 1986; and Reincarnation: Fact or Fable, edited by A. Berger and J. Berger, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.

Flew's works have been translated into other languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Welsh, Danish, Hebrew, and Japanese.

Contributor to encyclopedias, including Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Collier's Encyclopaedia. Also contributor to professional journals in England, Germany, Australia, and the United States. Member of editorial board, Sociological Review, 1954-71; past member of editorial advisory board, Question; consulting editor, Humanist, 1972—, Journal of Critical Analysis, beginning 1974, Hume Studies, 1976-1995, and Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1976—.

SIDELIGHTS: Antony Flew is a widely recognized British philosopher. His father was a clergyman, and Flew developed a strong interest in religion at a young age. Many of his books and writings center on religious philosophy, though he also writes about psychoanalysis, psychical research, crime and evolutionary ethics. As a newly graduated scholar from Oxford University, Flew became involved with what was widely described and denounced as "Oxford linguistic philosophy." This was supposed to be merely verbal and therefore trivializing. But that it was not, at least in his case, can be seen from the fact that he began work there on what later became his Gifford Lectures on the question of a future life.

Flew calls himself a secular humanist, which means that he looks for facts to support religious, political or social ideas and rejects the notion of "just having faith." In 1993, his collection of essays, Atheistic Humanism, looked at religious beliefs and the human condition within this framework. The book also covers topics such as mental illness, racism, and communism. A critic for Free Inquiry found it to have "penetrating insights" which gave readers "an opportunity to ponder and enjoy the wisdom of one of the major secular thinkers of our time."

His 2000 book Merely Mortal? Can You Survive Your Own Death? is a reprint of a 1987 work, The Logic of Mortality, in which Flew addresses the question of a future life. A reviewer for Atheism.com found Flew's argument to be neither "easy (nor) simple to understand" and Joseph Shaw of the Times Literary Supplement thought that the author's reasoning "is rarely made sufficiently clear." However, a critic for Secweb.org felt Flew did a fine job of analyzing the various ways philosophers have tried to explain life after death. The reviewer called Merely Mortal "a profoundly thoughtful book" that highlights a "complex issue with logical rigor and engaging wit."



Capital Times, February 23, 1998, Todd R. Svanoe, "What Happened to Make the God Debate So Godawful?," p. 2A.

Free Inquiry, summer, 1994, review of Aetheistic Humanism, p. 64.

Religious Studies, June, 1993, Peter Byrne, review of David Hume: Philosopher of Moral Science, p. 274.

Times Literary Supplement, November 23, 2001, Joseph Shaw, "Soul Survivor," p. 32.


Agnosticism/Atheism,http://atheism.about.com/ (June 21, 2002), "Surviving Death."

Ludwig von Mises Institute Web Site,http://www.mises.org/ (June 21, 2002), "Antony G. N. Flew, 2001 Schlarbaum Laureate."

Secular Web,http://www.secweb.org/ (July 23, 2002), review of Merely Mortal?: Can You Survive Your Own Death?

Theology Today,http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/ (July 23, 2002), review of Does God Exist?: The Craig-Flew Debate.