Professor Mary Hesse, ScD FBA, esteemed philosopher of science and former President of the Philosophy of Science Association (1979-1980), died on 2 October 2016, at the age of 91.
Mary Hesse studied Mathematics at Imperial College, London (1943-1947), and then History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at University College, London. She taught Mathematics in Holloway College and in Leeds University (1947-1955), and then HPS in University College, London (1955-1959). She arrived in Cambridge in 1960 as a Lecturer in the fairly new Department of HPS and in 1975 was appointed Professor of Philosophy of Science, a position she held until her retirement.
She was a Fellow of Wolfson College since 1965, the year of its foundation as University College Cambridge, and Vice-President 1976-1980. She was also President of the British Society for Philosophy of Science (1970-1971), Vice-President of the British Society for the History of Science (1975–77), President of the Philosophy of Science Association (1979-80), and a member of the Council of the British Academy (1979-1982).
Mary's research interests included the history of physics from the nineteenth century, the theory-observation relation in science, and the relationships of the natural and social sciences with religion. Her books include Science and the Human Imagination: Aspects of the History and Logic of Physical Science (1954), Forces and Fields (1961), Models and Analogies in Science (1964), The Structure of Scientific Inference (1974), Revolutions and Reconstructions in the Philosophy of Science (1980), and The Construction of Reality (with M. Arbib, 1986).
In retirement, Mary developed an interest in Landscape History, reverting to student status at Madingley Hall, and published a reconstruction of the medieval ‘East Fields’ of Cambridge town in Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, 96 (2007).