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Emmett, Dorothy Mary (b. 1904)

Emmett, Dorothy Mary (b. 1904)

British philosopher. Born September 29, 1904; Oxford University, Lady Margaret Hall, B.A., 1927, M.A. 1931; Radcliffe College, M.A., 1930.

Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Durham, King's College (1931–38); Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion, University of Manchester (1938–45); Sir Samuel Hall Professor of Philosophy, University of Manchester (1946–66). Honorary D.Litt., University of Glasgow; Honorary D.Litt., University of Leicester; Professor Emeritus, University of Glasgow, 1966—; lived in Cambridge, England.

Selected works:

Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism (1932); Philosophy and Faith (1936); The Nature of Metaphysical Thinking (1945); Alfred North Whitehead, 1861–1947 (1949); Presuppositions and Finite Truths (1949); Function, Purpose and Powers: Some Concepts in the Study of Individuals and Societies (1958); Sociological Theory and Philosophical Analysis (1970); The Moral Prism (1979); The Effectiveness of Causes (1984).

After studying philosophy at Oxford University and Radcliffe College, Dorothy Emmett was hired as a lecturer at the University of Durham. During her time there (1931 to 1938), she published her first two books in which Emmett's study with the eminent philosopher Alfred North Whitehead was reflected. In White-head's Philosophy of Organism, published in 1932, she sides with Whitehead against philosophers who argue the pointlessness of metaphysical speculation (reflection on the nature of reality), such as Ludwig Wittgenstein. Her second book, Philosophy and Faith (1936), concerns philosophy of religion, the subject for which Whitehead is best known.

From 1931 to 1945, Emmett was at the University of Manchester, initially as a lecturer, then as Sir Samuel Hall Professor of Philosophy. The rest of her career was spent at the University of Glasgow, where she became professor emeritus and published many books and papers in philosophical journals. Although Emmett's interest in metaphysics and religion continued, she became more interested in ethics as her career progressed.


Kersey, Ethel M. Women Philosophers: a Bio-critical Source Book. NY: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Catherine Hundleby , M.A. Philosophy, University of Guelph

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