Hugh Mellor

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Hugh Mellor
David Hugh Mellor

(1938-07-10)10 July 1938
London, England
Died21 June 2020(2020-06-21) (aged 81)
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
InstitutionsDarwin College, Cambridge
Doctoral advisorMary Hesse
Other academic advisorsHerbert Feigl
Doctoral studentsKwame Anthony Appiah, Jeremy Butterfield, Tim Crane, Huw Price, Rebecca Roache
Main interests
Philosophy of science
Philosophy of mind
Philosophy of time
Notable ideas
Mellor's account of chance[1]

David Hugh Mellor FBA (/ˈmɛlər/; 10 July 1938 – 21 June 2020) was a British philosopher. He was a Professor of Philosophy and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, later Professor Emeritus, of Cambridge University.


Mellor was born in London on 10 July 1938,[2] and educated at Manchester Grammar School.[3] He studied chemical engineering at Pembroke College, Cambridge (BA 1960).[3] His first formal study of philosophy was at the University of Minnesota where he took a minor in Philosophy of Science under Herbert Feigl.[2] From Minnesota he obtained an MSc in 1962.[2] He obtained his PhD in philosophy, with a thesis written under the supervision of Mary Hesse, at Pembroke in 1968.[2][3] He was awarded a Sc.D. from Cambridge in 1990.[3]

His primary work was in metaphysics, although his philosophical interests included philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of time, probability and causation, laws of nature and properties, and decision theory. Mellor was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Darwin College from 1971 to 2005.

Mellor was in the news in 1992, when he argued against Cambridge awarding an honorary degree to Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher known for his theory of “deconstruction”. A formal ballot decided to award the degree, but Mellor said it was undeserved, explaining: "He is a mediocre, unoriginal philosopher — he is not even interestingly bad."[4] He also commented that it had been "a bad year for bullshit in Cambridge."[5]

Mellor was president of the Aristotelian Society from 1992 to 1993, a member of the Humanist Philosophers' Group of the British Humanist Association and Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He was a Fellow of the British Academy between 1983 and 2008. In retirement Mellor held the title of emeritus professor.[3][6]

A festschrift, Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D. H. Mellor, was published in 2003.[7]

Mellor was also an amateur theatre actor.[4][5]

He died on 21 June 2020.[8][9]


  • The Matter of Chance (1971). Cambridge University Press.[10]
  • Real Time (1981). Cambridge University Press.[11]
  • Matters of Metaphysics (1991). Cambridge University Press.[12]
  • The Facts of Causation (1995). Routledge.
  • Real Time II (1998). Routledge.[13]
  • Probability: A Philosophical Introduction (2005). Routledge.
  • Mind, Meaning, and Reality (2012). Oxford University Press

*For more complete publication details see the tribute page by Tim Crane.


  1. ^ Hallvard Lillehammer, Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra (eds.), Real Metaphysics, Routledge, 2003, p. 182.
  2. ^ a b c d Lillehammer, Hallvard; Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gonzalo (2 September 2003). "Introduction". Real Metaphysics. Routledge. ISBN 9781134533442.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Hugh Mellor — Faculty of Philosophy". Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b Anon. (29 June 2020). "Professor Hugh Mellor obituary". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b "An Interview with Hugh Mellor" (1993) in Key Philosophers in Conversation: the Cogito interviews. Pyle, Andrew. London: Routledge. 1999. pp. 110–111 ISBN 0203016807. OCLC 51721217.
  6. ^ "index — Faculty of Philosophy". Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  7. ^ Divers, John (13 November 2003). "Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D. H. Mellor, Routledge". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Retrieved 26 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Hugh Mellor, 1938-2020".
  9. ^ "Hugh Mellor (died 21 June 2020)". University of Cambridge. Faculty of Philosophy.
  10. ^ Mellor, David Hugh (1971). The Matter of Chance. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521615983. [Freely available Open Access for download as a PDF]
  11. ^ CUP Archive, 31 May 1985. Retrieved 2012-01-25 ISBN 0-521-28468-6.
  12. ^ Mellor, David Hugh; Crane, Tim (1991). Matters of Metaphysics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521411172. [Freely available Open Access for download as a PDF]
  13. ^ Routledge, 22 Jun 1998. Retrieved 2012-01-25 ISBN 0-415-09781-9.


  • Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D. H. Mellor (2003). Hallvard Lillehammer and Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra ed.

External links[edit]