Philosopher and scholar.

Born: July 20, 1947; Died: October 26, 2014

Dudley Ross Knowles, who has died aged 66, was a former Professor of Political Philosophy at Glasgow University and an influential political philosopher and Hegel scholar.

Born in Penwortham, Preston, Lancashire, his mother came from Lancashire farming stock, and his father, a Yorkshireman, was a riding instructor in the army and then a mounted policeman. Dudley and his twin brother David spent much of their childhood on their great aunt's farm in the Fylde of Lancashire. As schoolboys their free time was devoted to walking and climbing in the Pennines and the Lake District; at the age of 16 they became members of the newly-formed Pennine rescue team.

From Kirkham Grammar School, he went up in 1966 to St John's College Oxford, but, unhappy there, he moved the following year to the then Bedford College in the University of London. He spent vacations in Glencoe, working at the Clachaig Inn, which is where he met his wife, Anne (née Carpenter), who was also working there. They married in 1968.

After Professor Knowles and his brother David graduated from London University, they both came to live in Glencoe. Dudley became manager of the Clachaig Inn, David worked as a professional mountaineer and guide. They joined the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team - those were days before helicopters were widely used and casualties were carried off the hill by the team.

Several of its members were local shepherds and Professor Knowles spent many happy hours with them gathering sheep and helping at the clipping, forging some very deep and lifelong friendships.

He had graduated with a first in philosophy, and while in Glencoe continued his studies part time for an M.Litt at Glasgow University. After completing it, he accepted the offer of a lectureship in the university's philosophy department.

He, Anne and their daughter Katy moved to Glasgow - shortly after the death of their infant son, Graham. Their second daughter Helen was born there in 1974. Later in the year,came another family tragedy - David, Dudley's twin brother, was killed in an accident on the North face of the Eiger, while working with the climbing team for the film of The Eiger Sanction. This left a gap in his life which was never quite filled.

At Glasgow, Professor Knowles prospered - both in his philosophical vocation and in his academic career. Behind a deceptively folksy manner lay not only great kindness and decency but a lot of shrewdness about people. It stood him in good stead as a head of department and especially as warden of Queen Margaret Hall, where he handled the incidents of a student hall with steady understanding and aplomb. A generation of young academics, including Gus (later Sir Gus) O'Donnell, the former Cabinet Secretary, learnt lessons as wardens on how to control boisterous individuals which their PhD supervisors could never have taught them.

For some time Professor Knowles has had a secure reputation as a leading political philosopher and Hegel scholar (for him these tracks were closely aligned). Political Philosophy (2001) remains a widely read textbook; Political Obligation (2009) is a monograph which reviews the historical theories as well as giving its own account.

His views on subjects such as political obligation, property and punishment kept on deepening, not least in the open-ended discussions that he loved to conduct with students. His most lasting contribution (as he himself rightly thought) was his book, Hegel and the Philosophy of Right (2002).

There has been an important revival of Hegel's moral and political philosophy in the last few decades: The Elements of the Philosophy of Right is the work in which Hegel sets it out most fully.

It is a daunting work, hard to fathom in many parts but Professor Knowles's study brings to it clarity of explanation and a constructive criticism which has nothing to do with the mere followership that Hegel sometimes receives. It is, as with all Professor Knowles's work, the product of many years of teaching in Glasgow - and in this case at St Andrews, where he gave memorable graduate seminars on Hegel. It will be profitably read for years to come.

His understanding of Hegel arose from a certain temperamental affinity. The affinity was more with Hegel's underlying liberal-communitarian ethics than with his politics. Politically, Professor Knowles was a one-nation social democrat long before the idea of one-nation politics was taken up on the left. Emotionally, he was always an old-Labour Northerner.

His was a distinctly English tradition - taking in themes marked out by Cobbett or George Orwell as well as by Locke and Mill. Hegel gave him critical distance and depth of insight into this tradition too. Bringing the standpoint that grew out of all this into political philosophy was what Professor Knowles, distinctively, was able to do.

His colleagues in Glasgow remember his honesty, integrity, warmth and his infectious sense of humour.

When he retired in 2011, the ­department attempted to give him a great send-off, but, in a classic ­Knowlesian move, Professor Knowles organised, and paid for himself, a superb retirement ceilidh at which his various worlds - academic colleagues, Glencoe mountaineers, a wide circle of friends and of course most importantly of all, family - all mixed happily.

He retired with Anne to Hassocks in Sussex (near his daughters) in 2011. In Scotland he and his wife (also a keen naturalist) had walked the hills, spending much time in the Borders. Now he was able, though all too briefly, to get fully back to bird watching, doing surveys for the British Trust for Ornithology (as they had done in Scotland) and exploring the Sussex Downs.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren.