The Philosophical Society of England

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The Philosophical Society of England was founded in 1913 by a group of largely amateur 'philosophers' concerned to provide an alternative to the formal university-based discipline. The society has passed through a series of changes in direction, including a period during which it offered distance-learning courses in philosophy (although it no longer does today). These courses caused a minor academic tussle in the 1950s over the status of its diplomas of associateship, triggered by an ill-advised attempt to award them to all the then UK university Philosophy Professors an honorary fellowship (FPhS).

In the words of its founding statement, The Philosophical Society of England exists 'to promote the study of practical philosophy among the general public'. It aims to bring together professional philosophers and non-professionals, to bring philosophical ideas and problems to the public attention, and to encourage wider discussion of both traditional and topical philosophical issues. To carry out this function, the Society published its own journal, The Philosopher, set up local groups for lectures and discussions and held regular conferences, often free of charge.

Its most high-profile president was Professor Brenda Almond, well known for her work in the cause of 'Applied Philosophy' in the United Kingdom, who helped shepherd the Society to its 100th anniversary, celebrated with a special conference in Malmesbury in 2012. In the same year, the Philosopher's online version became fully independent of the traditional Society Newsletter.

The Society has never aligned itself with any particular school of philosophy, nor is it a cover for any political, ideological, religious or esoteric movement or interests. Membership is open to all interested persons who share the Society's aims.

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