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Archive of John Randolph Lucas


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The archive comprises:

  1. Academic papers, 1953-2011, n.d.
  2. 'Gödelian' papers, covering Lucas' study, research, arguments and publications relating to his prominent paper 'Minds, Machines and Gödel', Gödel's incompleteness theorem, and the Lucas - Penrose argument, 1958-1997
  3. Memoirs and other personal papers, 1990s-2002.


  • Creation: 1953-2011, n.d.


6.90 Linear metres (46 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • Latin
  • Greek, Ancient (to 1453)
  • Italian

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 21178/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 21178/1-46

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 21178


Archive of John Randolph Lucas (1929-2020), philosopher and tutor of Merton College.

Biographical / Historical

John Randolph Lucas (1929-2020), Oxford philosopher, was a fellow and tutor at Merton College. Lucas was born in Winchester and read Mathematics and Greats at Balliol College between 1947 and 1951. As a polymath, his research interests included ancient philosophy, metaphysics and the philosophies of mind, religion, economics, mathematics, and physics; he published widely in these areas. Specifically, he published at length about Free Will, including on logician Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem and its implications, arguing in 'Minds, Machines and Gödel' Philosophy XXXVI, 1961, pp.112-127, that 'Mechanism is false and minds cannot be explained as machines'. Lucas, an Anglican, also served on the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England from 1967-1977. In 1990 he was awarded an ad-hominem Readership in Philosophy at the University, and continued to hold positions at Merton College until his retirement in 1996. Between 1991-1993 he held the position of President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science.


Arrangement of the Lucas archive has been kept as close to the original order in which it was received by the Libraries as possible. The donor had imposed an arrangement of the materials when they were kept at his home, of which a list still exists, but this order was disrupted when boxed up for donation. The list of contents can be found in MS. 21178/1. This list, and another list of archive contents, printed in 1996 presumably by Lucas, found in MS. 21178/42 were used to assist with labelling the archive and checking the scope and titles of documents, instead of attempting to rebuild the donor’s original boxing arrangement. As received by the library, the archive could be roughly arranged into the following three series, which also reflect how works were organised by J. R. Lucas on his webpage:

  1. Academic papers
  2. 'Gödelian papers'
  3. Memoirs and personal papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The archive was donated to the Libraries by Lucas' son, Edward Lucas, 17 May 2021.

Catalogue of the archive of John Randolph Lucas
Kelly Burchmore
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom