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definition - Mary_Warnock,_Baroness_Warnock

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Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock

Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock
Born (1924-04-14) 14 April 1924 (age 88)
Winchester, Hampshire, England.
Alma mater Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
Known for Philosopher of morality, education and mind, and writer on existentialism.
Title Baroness
Spouse Geoffrey Warnock
Children 5

Helen Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock, DBE, FBA (born 14 April 1924) is a British philosopher of morality, education and mind, and writer on existentialism.


  Early life

Warnock was born Mary Wilson on 14 April 1924 in Winchester, England, and was the youngest of seven children. Her mother was from a prosperous family. Her father Archie Wilson, a Scotsman, was a housemaster and taught German at Winchester College. He caught diphtheria in 1923 and consequently died of heart failure. Warnock was brought up by her mother and a nanny. She never knew her eldest sibling, Malcolm, who had autism and was cared for in a nursing home, spending his last days in a Dorset hospital. Her brother Sandy died when very young. Her other brother, Duncan, became master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.[1]

When Warnock was seven months old the family moved to Kelso House, a three-floor Victorian house, now the music centre at Peter Symonds College. She and her sister Stefana were cared for primarily by the family nanny. Warnock was educated as a boarder St Swithun's School, Winchester.[1][2]

Warnock has said that when she was a child she was embarrassed by her mother, who looked different to most people, often by wearing long flowing dark red clothes and walking with turned out feet. However, when Warnock was about 15 years old, she began to admire her mother's eccentricity and independent thinking.[1]



Warnock studied at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and was made an Honorary Fellow in 1984. From 1949 to 1966, she was a Fellow and tutor in philosophy at St Hugh's College, Oxford. She was Talbot Research Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall (1972–76). From 1976 to 1984, she was a Senior Research Fellow at St Hugh's College, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the College in 1985. She then became Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge (1986–89). Warnock delivered the Gifford Lectures, entitled "Imagination and Understanding," at University of Glasgow in 1992. In 2000, she was a visiting professor of rhetoric at Gresham College, London.

Warnock has written extensively on ethics, existentialism and philosophy of mind.[3]


In the early 1960s, whilst still teaching at St Hugh's College, Warnock took a seat on the Oxfordshire local education authority. From 1966 to 1972, she was Headmistress at the Oxford High School for girls.[2] She is a patron of The Iris Project, a charity which promotes the teaching of classics.[4]


Warnock was a member of the Independent Broadcasting Authority from 1972 to 1983 and, in 1980, was considered for the post of Director General of the BBC.[5][2]

  Public policy

Because of her background as an educationalist, Warnock was appointed in 1974 to chair a UK inquiry on special education. Her report, published in 1978, brought radical change in the field, by placing emphasis on the teaching of learning disabled children in mainstream schools and introducing a system of "statementing" children in order for them to gain entitlement to special educational support. Warnock has since expressed dissatisfaction with the system she helped to create, calling it "appalling" because of the expense of its administration and its tendency to deny support to mildly disadvantaged children. She has recommended the establishment of a new inquiry.[2][6]

From 1979 to 1984, she sat on a Royal Commission on environmental pollution.[5]

From 1982 to 1984, she chaired the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology. Her report on this occasion gave rise to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which governs human fertility treatment and experimentation using human embryos. Its effect has been to require licensing for procedures such as in vitro fertilisation and to ban research using human embryos more than 14 days old. According to Suzy Leather, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, "perhaps the greatest achievement of the Warnock committee is that it managed to get an ethical consensus that people understood as well as shared".[2]

From 1984 to 1989, Warnock chaired a Home Office Committee on animal experimentation and since 1998 she has been a member of the Government advisory panel on spoliation.[5]

In 2008, Warnock, a committed advocate of euthanasia, caused controversy with an opinion that people with dementia should be allowed to elect to die if they felt they were "a burden to their family or the state".[7][8]


Warnock was created a life peer in 1985 as Baroness Warnock of Weeke, in the City of Winchester.[9] She is a crossbencher.[5]


In 1987, she was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) by the University of Bath.[10]


Warnock is President of the Governing Council of The Active Training and Education Trust a.k.a. ATE Superweeks, which is a not-for-profit educational trust and charity.

  Personal life

Warnock married Geoffrey Warnock, later Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, in 1949. They had two sons and three daughters. Although an atheist, she is an Anglican and a regular churchgoer.[11]


As chairwoman of committees of inquiry:

As author:

  See also


  1. ^ a b c "The House I Grew up In featuring Mary Warnock". The House I Grew Up In. 2008-09-17. BBC. BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/thehouseigrewupin/pip/0ayop/. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Brown, Andrew (19 July 2003). "The practical philosopher". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/jul/19/society1. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Honderich, Ted (1995). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (1. publ. ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 907. ISBN 0-19-866132-0. 
  4. ^ "Patrons". Iris website. http://www.irismagazine.org/patrons.html. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Baroness Warnock". UK Parliament website. http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/helen-warnock/26511. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Warnock, Mary (17 September 2010). "The cynical betrayal of my special needs children". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8009504/Baroness-Mary-Warnock-The-cynical-betrayal-of-my-special-needs-children.html. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  7. ^ Beckford, Martin (2008-09-19). "Baroness Warnock: Dementia sufferers may have a 'duty to die'". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2983652/Baroness-Warnock-Dementia-sufferers-may-have-a-duty-to-die.html. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  8. ^ "Dementia patients' 'right-to-die'". BBC News. 2008-09-19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7625816.stm. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  9. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 49969. p. 1. 31 December 1984. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  10. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". bath.ac.uk. University of Bath. http://www.bath.ac.uk/ceremonies/hongrads/. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "Belief transcript: Mary Warnock interview". BBC website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/belief/scripts/mary_warnock.html. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Digitisation activities :: Library". Bopcris.ac.uk. 2011-03-22. http://www.bopcris.ac.uk/bopall/ref18916.html. Retrieved 2011-08-12. 

  External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Brenda Ryman
Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Juliet J. D'Auvergne Campbell


All translations of Mary_Warnock,_Baroness_Warnock

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