Dr Ahmed awarded an MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours

  • 11 June 2021

Gonville & Caius College Fellow Dr Arif Ahmed has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, it has been announced.

Dr Ahmed has been honoured for services to education. He is a University Reader in the Faculty of Philosophy and in 2015 joined Caius, where he is the Nicholas Sallnow-Smith Fellow. He studied mathematics at the University of Oxford and Philosophy at Sussex and Cambridge. He has worked at the University of Birmingham and has held visiting positions at Sydney University and elsewhere.

“It’s a tremendous honour to be recognised in this way,” Dr Ahmed said.

“It was an enormous surprise, and I didn’t really believe it until today. I’m delighted to have been recognised, by a country that I love, in the service of a University that I love.”

He successfully led an amendment to the University of Cambridge’s free speech policy in December 2020, saying guidelines requiring opinions to be “respectful” of differing views should instead emphasise “tolerance”.

He added: “It marked a reverse in a well-intentioned, but creeping, micro-regulation of speech which I consider to be dangerous.

“A lot of people helped me with it in Cambridge, most especially Ross Anderson of Churchill, but also a number of Fellows at Caius: Victoria Bateman, John Casey, Anthony Edwards, John Ellis, Peter Robinson, Malcolm Smith and others were all involved and terrifically helpful. Many other members of the University were also involved.

“The values of Cambridge University are enduring and eternal, and they are personal liberty, freedom of enquiry, the search for truth, and independence of mind. Those values will outlast any University administration, and I feel very fortunate about being able to do something in the service of those.”

Dr Ahmed writes mainly on decision theory, but also has an interest in religion and has debated the subject against William Lane Craig, Rowan Williams and others. He is an atheist and a libertarian and his philosophical outlook is most closely allied with those of David Hume and Friedrich Hayek.

Caius Master, Dr Pippa Rogerson, said: “On behalf of the Caius community, I would like to congratulate Dr Arif Ahmed for his MBE. I am delighted that he has been honoured for his exceptional contribution to free speech and higher education. Caius is fortunate to have Arif's rigorous participation in discussions on the complex issues surrounding freedom of expression.”

Dr Ahmed’s department webpage is: https://www.phil.cam.ac.uk/people/teaching-research-pages/ahmed

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