Oxford days: Carrying through the Copernican revolution in the philosophy of science (1963–1973)
MH: Tell us, to start with, something about the trajectory of your formal studies at Oxford: what you started off reading, what you ended up reading, and why and how.
RB: In October 1963 I went up to Oxford on the exhibition I had won to read PPE at Balliol College. That exhibition was very soon converted to an open scholarship. I graduated from Balliol in 1966 with a first class BA Honours. Then I enrolled for a DPhil in the economics faculty to do a thesis called The Relevance of Economic Theory for Underdeveloped Countries. I was appointed a lecturer in economics at Pembroke College. I spent a further year at Balliol, then won a place in Nuffield College and I was there from October 1967 to the end of the summer 1969. I kept my lectureship at Pembroke. I became a research fellow at the Oxford University Institute of Statistics and Economics in about September 1970 and I held that post for one year. Then I was awarded a junior research fellowship at Linacre College, a fellowship in philosophy – by now I had switched to the philosophy faculty – and towards the end of 1971 I submitted a DPhil thesis in the philosophy faculty under the title Some Problems about Explanation in the Social Sciences, but it was too long for the examiners. I submitted a second thesis when I was at the University of Edinburgh, where I had become a lecturer from October 1973. It also was not accepted, I think this was in April 1974, but it might have been May.