Latest news


The 2015 Knox Lecture will be delivered by Professor Nancy Cartwright of the Universities of California, San Diego and Durham. The title is Will this policy work for us? Understanding and misunderstanding randomised controlled trials.

Tuesday 8th December 5.15pm in School II

Centre establishes partnership with the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues in the University of Birmingham.

Centre appoints three international scholars as visiting fellows (see research fellowship for information on these and other fellows).



Will this policy work for us? Undertsanding and misunderstanding randomised controlled trials

The 2014 lecture was delivered by Prof. Michael Ignateiff of the
Universities of Harvard and Toronto. While in Scotland he also delivered the inaugural Royal Institute of Philosophy/Royal Society of Edinburgh Lecture.
This is a new collaboration between the Royal Institute (London) and the Royal Society (Edinburgh) arranged by CEPPA Director and Royal Institute Chair Prof. John Haldane.


Collaborative Workshop between Centre For Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs and New Voices in Legal Theory a group of younger US scholars in law and philosophy.

Chair in Philosophy and Public Affairs
St Andrews 600th anniversary fundraising campaign

Aurel Kolnai research
see also essay by C. Bessemans, 'A Glimpse of the Kolnai Archive'.

Music, Meaning & Morality
Texts by James MacMillan and Roger Scruton

St Andrews Studies in Philosophy & Public Affairs

Anscombe Publishing Project

St Andrews Studies in Philosophy and Public Affairs: recent volumes

Anthony Ellis, Philosophy
of Punishment

Visiting Fellowships
1. Fellows in 2014-15.

2. For information on fellowship opportunities see here. NB. Closing date for fellowships for 2015-16 is 30 November 2014.


Philosophy Lives
(First Things)

William James
(BBC broadcast)

Difficult Decision Making in the National Heath Service
Report of NHS Scotland working party

Ethics, Politics and Society
Lord Falconer, Lisa Jardine and John Haldane in discussion (BBC broadcast)

Education and Civic Virtue
by Jonathan Sacks
from House of Lords speech

Practical Philosophy
by John Haldane
extract from Practical Philosophy

A Democratic Deficit?
by Neil MacCormick+
extract from European Constitution

Reflections on the Scottish Parliament
by John Haldane
article from Scotsman

Address to Scottish Parliament
by John Haldane
from Scottish Parliament Report

The Search for Meaning
by John Haldane
extract from Seeking Meaning

Scots thinkers who forged new democracy from the colonies
by John Haldane
article from Scotsman

Commons' votes on controversial biothical issues should not be whipped
multiply authored letter to The Times

Scottish Philosophy isn’t just the Enlightenment
by John Haldane
article from Scotsman

Welcome to the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs

Founded thirty years ago, in February 1984, by decisions of the Faculty of Arts, the Senate and the University Court, the Centre is in its fourth decade of operation. It is the oldest university centre or institute for philosophy, ethics and policy in the United Kingdom and has served as a model for similar institutes elsewhere in the UK and internationally.

CEPPA maintains a programme of academic visits, fellowships, lectures, seminars and conferences, with occasional ongoing research projects. It also hosts a major publication series, St Andrews Studies in Philosophy and Public Affairs, and provides a forum for public discussion both within and outwith the University.

Throughout the six hundred year history of St Andrews University, ethics has been a constant part of the undergraduate curriculum, and teachers of the subject have often reached out beyond the academic sphere to contribute to debates about public affairs.

Significant St Andrews figures in that tradition include John Mair or Major (1467-1550) and George Buchanan (1506-82) in the sixteenth century; Alexander Henderson (1583-1646) in the seventeenth; Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) in the eighteenth; Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) and James Ferrier (1808-64) in the nineteenth; and Bernard Bosanquet (1848-1923), A.E. Taylor (1869-1945) and Sir Malcolm Knox (1900-80) iin the twentieth.

Writing on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of St Salvator's college, the chapel and tower of which can be seen on the left, and another image of which features on the volumes of St Andrews Studies in Philosophy and public Affairs, Sir Malcolm Knox wrote as follows:

If a man cannot pursue philosophical enquiry as a member of the College of St Salvator, he is unlikely to be able to philosophise at all. In this College, dominated throughout its chequered history by [Bishop] Kennedy's great tower and church, a philosopher cannot but be conscious of belonging to an academic tradition which is centuries old, and here, living in a small town overlooking the sea and exempt from the distractions of great cities, he has every inducement to brood over the traditional problems of metaphysics or the standards that should control the vagaries of human conduct.

Such has been the experience of successive generations, and it is one that is shared and valued by our visiting fellows, of whom there have been 90 since the fellowship programme began in 1984 (coming to St Andrews from 14 countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, UK and USA) .

Spanning the twentieth and twenty first centuries, the Centre continues this tradition of bringing philosophical reflection to bear upon matters of broad interest and concern.  Its field of activity comprises ethics, social and political philosophy as well as the ethical and philosophical dimensions of public affairs.

Through the four decades since its creation CEPPA has established an international reputation for its programmes. Building on this reputation, the University is seeking to create a Chair in Philosophy and Public Affairs. This post would allow us to engage more widely with the public, the media and fellow academics and researchers around the globe, and to address the complex ethical dilemmas faced by policy-makers in government, business and public life.

Please explore this site through the menu provided on the left; and the items catalogued on the right. You will find descriptions of various events and opportunities as well as links to other organisations and sources of information.

John Haldane

Historical note
John Mair, mentioned above, bore the Latin name Joannes Maioris Scotus and is shown in this contemporary image teaching at the College of Navarre in the University of Paris. Mair was born c. 1467 in Cleghornie, NE of Edinburgh and some 20 miles due south of St Andrews. After an early career in Paris and in Glasgow, Mair was first appointed to St Andrews in 1523, and after a spell back in France returned to the University in 1534 to become Provost of St Salvator's College. He died here in 1550.

Among Mair's writings is a commentary on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (1530) His many students included George Buchanan, Jean Calvin, John Knox, Ignatius Loyola, and Francois Rabelais. Increasingly his theory of Church governance is being seen as a source of democratic political theory.

18th century Capriccio painting of the ruins of St Andrews