Geoffrey Warnock

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Sir Geoffrey Warnock
(c) The Open University 1973
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford
In office
ChancellorThe Earl of Stockton
Preceded bySir Rex Richards
Succeeded byThe Lord Neill of Bladen
Personal details
Geoffrey James Warnock

(1923-08-16)16 August 1923
Leeds, England
Died8 October 1995(1995-10-08) (aged 72)
Axford, Wiltshire, England
(m. 1949)
Alma materWinchester College
New College, Oxford
Known forPhilosopher and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University

Sir Geoffrey James Warnock (16 August 1923 – 8 October 1995)[1] was an English philosopher and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University.[2] Before his knighthood (in the 1986 New Year Honours), he was commonly known as G. J. Warnock.


Warnock was born at Neville House, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, to James Warnock (1880–1953), OBE, a general practitioner from Northern Ireland who had been a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps,[3] and Kathleen (née Hall; 1890–1979). The Warnocks later lived at Grade II-listed[4] Pull Croft, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire (historically Berkshire).[5][6]

Warnock was educated at Winchester College.[1] He then served with the Irish Guards until 1945, before entering New College, Oxford, with a classics scholarship. He was elected to a Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1949. After spending three years at Brasenose College, he returned to Magdalen as a Fellow and tutor in philosophy. In 1970, he was elected to Principal of Hertford College, Oxford (1971–1988), where there is now a society and student house named after him.[7] He was also the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1981 to 1985.[2]

Warnock, with co-editor J. O. Urmson, prepared for posthumous 1961 publication the Philosophical Papers of their friend, and fellow Oxford linguistic philosopher, J. L. Austin.[8] Warnock also reconstructed Austin's Sense and Sensibilia (1962) from manuscript notes.[9]

Warnock married Mary Wilson, a fellow philosopher of St Hugh's College, Oxford, and later Baroness Warnock, in 1949. They had two sons and three daughters.[10][11] He retired to live near Marlborough, Wiltshire, in 1988 and died of degenerative lung disease in 1995[12] at Axford in Wiltshire.


For a more complete list of Warnock's works see his PhilPapers entry

  • English Philosophy Since 1900, 1st edition, Oxford University Press, 1958; 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 1969.
  • Contemporary Moral Philosophy (New studies in ethics), Palgrave Macmillan, 1967. ISBN 978-0333048979.
  • The Object of Morality, Methuen, 1971. ISBN 0-416-13780-6.
  • Morality and Language, Barnes & Noble. 1983
  • J. L. Austin (The Arguments of the Philosophers), Routledge, 1989.


  1. ^ a b Torrance, John (16 October 1995). "Obituary: Sir Geoffrey Warnock — Obituaries, News". The Independent. London. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Previous Vice-Chancellors". University of Oxford, UK. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  3. ^ The Medical Register, vol. 2- Provinces and Wales, J. & A. Churchill, Ltd, 1948, p. 2199
  4. ^ "British Listed Buildings: Number 53 (Pull Croft) and railings to front". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Warnock, Sir Geoffrey James". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/60440. Retrieved 21 March 2019. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ Wills and Probate 1858–1996, surname 'Warnock', year of death '1954', page 170, Warnock, James, of Pull Croft, Sutton Courtenay, died 4 December 1953, Probate to Kathleen Warnock, widow
  7. ^ Geoffrey Warnock student accommodation Archived 1 October 2005 at the Wayback Machine, Hertford College, Oxford, UK.
  8. ^ Austin, J. L. (1961). Urmson, J. O.; Warnock, G. J. (eds.). Philosophical Papers. Universal Digital Library. Oxford University Press. OL 5843510M.
  9. ^ Austin, J. L. (John Langshaw) (1964). Sense and Sensibilia. Internet Archive. London : Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-500307-9.
  10. ^ "Belief transcript: Mary Warnock interview". archived at the Wayback Machine, 6 February 2007. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007.
  11. ^ "House of Lords". TheyWorkForYou. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Mary Warnock". The Gifford Lectures. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2019.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Principal of Hertford College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by