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Joseph Henry Woodger

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Joseph Henry Woodger (2 May 1894 - 8 March 1981) was a British theoretical biologist and philosopher of biology whose attempts to make biological sciences more rigorous and empirical was significantly influential to the philosophy of biology in the twentieth century. Karl Popper, the prominent philosopher of science, claimed "Woodger… influenced and stimulated the evolution of the philosophy of science in Britain and in the United States as hardly anybody else".[1]

Woodger was born at Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and studied at University College London from 1911 until 1922, except for a period serving in the First World War. He then became a readerat the University of London Middlesex Hospital Medical School. He became a professor there in 1947, and eventually retired in 1959 as emeritus professor of biology. He was known to friends and family as "Socrates", and with his wife Eden (born Buckle) he lived at Epsom in Surrey, where they had four children. He died in 1981.


  • Biological Principles (1929). London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner.
  • The Axiomatic Method in Biology (1937). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.[2]
  • The Technique of Theory Construction (1939), Chicago.
  • Biology and Language (1952). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.


  1. Jump up^ Popper, Karl (1981), "Obituary: Joseph Henry Woodger", British Journal for the Philosophy of Science32 (3): 328-330
  2. Jump up^ Allen, E. S. (1938). "Review: J. H. Woodger, The Axiomatic Method Method in Biology"Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 44 (11).

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