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Margaret Morrison (1954-2021)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 1:07am in

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Margaret Morrison, professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, has died.

Professor Morrison was known for her work in philosophy of science, winning a Guggenheim fellowship in 2017 recognizing her for her research on “the role of models in scientific investigation, mathematical explanation in physics and biology,… the role of computer simulations in knowledge production,… how we extract concrete information from abstract mathematical representations, [and] the epistemology of computer simulation.” She is the author of Reconstructing Reality: Models, Mathematics, and Simulations, among many other works (including a few on some figures in the history of philosophy), which you can browse here.

Professor Morrison joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto in 1989. Prior to that, she held positions at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota. She has also held research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, the Centre for the Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences at the London School of Economics, and the Centre for Mathematical Philosophy at the Ludwig Maximillian University. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario and was an undergraduate at Dalhousie University.

(via Stephan Hartmann)

UPDATE (1/11/21): The Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto has published a brief memorial notice here. The notice states that Professor Morrison died on January 9th from cancer.

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Richard Garner (1936-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 1:03am in

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Richard Thomas Garner, emeritus professor of philosophy at The Ohio State University, has died.

Professor Garner worked in moral philosophy, philosophy of language, and Asian philosophy. He is the author of many works, including the book Beyond Morality, in which he argued against traditional language and thought about ethics, and instead for “expanded information and sympathy—the ability to realize the plight of others and the disposition to care.”  You can learn more about his writings here.

Professor Garner spent most of his career at at Ohio State, beginning in 1963 and retiring in 1995, though he taught as an adjunct at Rutgers University from 2000 to 2005. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, his M.A. from Penn State, and was an undergraduate at Ohio University.

There is a memorial notice posted at Ohio State’s Philosophy Department website by Wayne Alt, who says Professor Garner is remembered as a “kind, sincere, extremely gifted and concerned soul.” He died on Christmas Eve from complications related to COVID-19.

(via Lisa Downing)

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David Charles McCarty (1953-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/12/2020 - 1:02am in

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David Charles McCarty, professor of philosophy at Indiana University, has died.

Professor McCarty was worked on the philosophy and history of mathematics and logic, and early analytic philosophy. You can read an overview of his work in an obituary posted at the Indiana University Department of Philosophy website. An excerpt:

He published over 120 peer-reviewed papers. He wrote on intuitionism, the completeness problem for intuitionistic logic, Markov’s Principle, constructive validity, realizability and recursive mathematics, potentially infinite sets, denotational semantics, Church’s Thesis, logical truth, the meanings of the connectives, limits of mathematical explanation, mathematical realism, structuralism, antirealism, the philosophy of logical atomism, as well as Hilbert and du Bois-Reymond, Carnap, Brouwer, Helmholtz, Frege, Wittgenstein, Dedekind, Gödel, Anselm’s ontological argument, Goethe, historical fiction, the pathetic fallacy, and other topics. His book To an Infinite Power: Mathematical and Philosophical Writings of Paul du Bois-Reymond, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2021.

Professor McCarty had several main lines of work in logic. He was one of the world’s leading experts on constructive mathematics and intuitionistic logic, and all matters related to their history and philosophy. He proved a number of results on these topics that are of permanent importance both to people in that field and to outsiders.

Professor McCarty died of a heart attack on November 25th.

The Philosophy Department at Indiana is preparing a Memory Book for Professor McCarty. Please email Kirk Ludwig  if you would like to contribute.

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Hasna Begum (1935-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 1:14am in

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Hasna Begum, professor emerita of philosophy at the University of Dhaka, has died.

Professor Begum was known for her work in bioethics and feminist philosophy. Some of her scholarly writings are collected in edited collections, such as Women in the Developing World: Thoughts and Ideals. She also translated several Western philosophical classics into Bengali. You can learn more about some of her writings here and here.

Professor Begum took up her position at the University of Dhaka in 1978. She had earned her undergraduate and master’s degree there, but moved to Australia to get her Ph.D. at Monash University, where she was the first doctoral advisee of Peter Singer (now at Princeton). Her dissertation, later published as a book, was on the moral philosophy of G.E. Moore. In 2010, the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh appointed her Rokeya Chair, an honor named for Begum Rokeya, the famed Bengali feminist writer, educator, and activist. In a post about her (from which much of the foregoing was drawn), Rainer Ebert (Centre de recherche en éthique, Montreal) writes: “Like Rokeya, Hasna too was acutely aware of the ills of society, particularly the oppression of women and children, and an outspoken proponent of social reform.”

Begum was 36 years old when she left Bangladesh to pursue her Ph.D. in philosophy. She had been married at age 13 and in 1974, at the start of her doctoral studies, she was a mother of six children and a grandmother. Her story made the Australian news:


A profile of Hasna Begum, age 36, from Australian Women’s Weekly, January 1974. Click image to be taken to a transcript of the article.

In his obituary of her, Dr. Ebert writes:

The story of Hasna’s life is one of sacrifice, perseverance, and love of inquiry. Against all odds, she reached the highest echelon of academia and became one of Bangladesh’s most respected intellectuals. She has inspired generations of students, especially women students in Bangladesh, and her memory will inspire generations to come. Contemplating her illustrious career in an autobiographical piece that was published in the Dhaka Courier in 2018, she wrote: “I am satisfied and my heart is at peace. This is all I had yearned and endeavored for.”

You can read Professor Begum’s autobiographical essay here.

She died of COVID-19 on December 1st.

(via Rainer Ebert)

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Rudolph Weingartner (1927-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 8:40pm in

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Rudolph Weingartner, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, has died.

Dr. Weingartner’s research was in the history of philosophy (especially ancient) and the philosophy of history. Having also served as a dean and provost, he also wrote on matters pertaining to higher education. You can learn more about his research here.

Dr. Weingartner was Provost of the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 – 1989. Before arriving at Pitt, he was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. Prior to that, he was professor and philosophy department chair at Vassar College and, before then, he held those positions at San Francisco State College. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University.

From 2013-2018, Dr. Weingartner kept a blog at which he wrote about his life, work, and interests, which you can read here.

The New York Times published an obituary for Professor Weingartner, posted here. He died on November 16th.

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Raimo Tuomela (1940-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/11/2020 - 12:42am in

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Raimo Heikki Tuomela, Professor Emeritus in Practical Philosophy, University of Helsinki, has died.


(Raimo Tuomela. Photo by Cata Portin.)

Professor Tuomela was known for his work in social philosophy and philosophy of action, especially collective or group action, group intention, group knowledge, and the like. You can learn more about his research here and here. He retired from the University of Helsinki in 2008, where he had worked since 1971. Over the years he held visiting appointments at other institutions, such as the Academy of Finland and the University of Munich. He earned two Ph.D.s in philosophy: one from the University of Helsinki and another from Stanford University.

Below is an obituary written by Ilkka Niiniluoto and translated by Arto Laitinen. It will also appear at the website of the International Social Ontology Society (ISOS).

Raimo Heikki Tuomela, Professor Emeritus in Practical Philosophy, University of Helsinki, passed away in Helsinki on November 22nd 2020, at the age of 80. He was born in Helsinki October 9th 1940, his father was from Karelia, his mother belonged to the Swedish speaking minority in Finland.

After his matricular examination from the Helsinki Lyceum 1959, Tuomela studied Psychology at the University of Helsinki. In 1966, having completed the degrees of Master and Licenciate in Psychology, he joined together with Risto Hilpinen and Juhani Pietarinen Jaakko Hintikka’s research group at the department of practical philosophy, where the foundations were laid for the internationally lauded Finnish School of Induction, studying inductive logic. In his dissertation in philosophy of science, The Application Process of a Theory (1968), Tuomela was among the first to apply Tarskian model theory to the interpretation of scientific theories. Tuomela defended another PhD, Auxiliary Concepts within First-Order Scientific Theories in 1969 at Stanford, where he had earlier visited as an ASLA-Fulbright scholar. His teachers included Jaakko Hintikka, Patrick Suppes and Joseph Sneed. In his work, he applied Hintikka’s logical theory of distributive normal forms in the examination of the definability of theoretical concepts and the methodological gains of their use. Tuomela published these results, together with his studies concerning the structure of scientific explanation, in his Theoretical Concepts (1973) and (with Ilkka Niiniluoto) in Theoretical Concepts and Hypothetico-Inductive Inference (1973). Influenced by Wilfrid Sellars and Hilary Putnam, Tuomela developed an original version of scientific realism in Science, Action, and Reality (1985). This is the view called «causal internal realism», according to which truth is an epistemic concept explicable in terms of the concept of explanation. On that view, ontological questions are to be solved by theories that provide the best scientific explanations, as «science is the measure of all things, of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not» as Sellars’s Scientia Mensura -principle holds.

In 1968 The Faculty of Social Sciences founded a special professorship in the methodology of social science. Young Tuomela applied for it, as did Yrjö Ahmavaara, who was a well-known researcher in psychometrics and cybernetics. Tuomela was appointed in 1971, which was considered a significant move in the science policies in Finland. In 1977, the professorship was turned into the second professorship in practical philosophy at the University of Helsinki. Tuomela held this post for 37 years and retired in 2008. His students included Uskali Mäki and Matti Sintonen, who also later became professors. Tuomela was an Academy Professor in 1995-2000, leading a research group on social action. Matti Sintonen, Petri Ylikoski and Kaarlo Miller edited the volume Realism in Action (2003) in honour of his 60th birthday. Important co-authors included his second wife Maj Tuomela (former Bonnevier), who defended her dissertation in social psychology in 2006, on trust as a collective attitude.

As a professor, Tuomela edited the collections Yhteiskuntatieteiden eksakti metodologia (1975) and (with Ilkka Patoluoto) Yhteiskuntatieteiden filosofiset perusteet I-II (1976). In his Human Action and Its Explanation (1976), he applied scientific realism to psychology, defending a causal theory of action as an alternative to G. H. von Wright’s (non-causal) model of understanding intentionality. On the view Tuomela defended, mental states are real, causally efficacious dispositions, and human behaviour is to be explained with reference to “purposive causation”.

In his next large book, A Theory of Social Action (1984) he generalized explanations of individual behaviour to group action. This became his central topic of research, which he developed sharply in several systematic treatises: The Importance of Us (1995), Cooperation: A Philosophical Study (2000), The Philosophy of Social Practices: A Collective Acceptance View (2002), The Philosophy of Sociality: The Shared Point of View (2007) and Social Ontology: Collective Intentionality and Group Agents (2013). His trademarks as a researcher were analytically clear and precise definitions of the key concepts such as group belief, we-intention and social practice. He published with such top publishers as D. Reidel, Stanford University Press, Kluwer, Cambridge University Press, and Oxford University Press. These books established him as an eminent scholar in his field. His central standing is attested to by his choice in 2012 as the president – and later honorary president – of International Social Ontology Society, and as an editor in chief of the new book series Studies in the Philosophy of Sociality in 2013. In 2017 Springer also published Social Ontology and Collective Intentionality: Critical Essays on the Philosophy of Raimo Tuomela with His Responses.

As a defender of a scientific worldview, Tuomela was one of the founders of Skepsis ry, promoting critical thinking. Mostly he enjoyed his life as a researcher and did not take part in public discussions. Tuomela was probably better known internationally than in Finland. He was an invited speaker in many leading universities and international conferences. He received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 1993. He maintained a steady contact to analytical philosophers in Germany (e.g. Wolfgang Balzer) as a permanent visiting professor at the University of Munich since 2005, where he spent two to three months annually. He also made regular visits to London and Berkeley. In 2019, Tuomela was granted a lifetime achievement award by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. In an interview by niin&näin, a popular philosophical magazine, Tuomela described himself as a shy lone wolf. As a person he was a paragon of conscientiousness and diligence, whose goal-orientedness was softened by his boyish humour among close friends. His hobbies included long distance running and classical music.

25.11.2020

Ilkka Niiniluoto
November 25th, 2020
(Written originally for Ajatus 77/2020, the journal of the Philosophical Society of Finland. Ilkka Niiniluoto is a Professor Emeritus in Theoretical Philosophy, who also served as a Rector and Chancellor of the University of Helsinki, and has earned the title of an Academician of Science.)
Translated by Arto Laitinen

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Judith Jarvis Thomson (1929-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/11/2020 - 1:30pm in

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Judith Jarvis Thomson, professor emerita of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the most influential moral philosophers of the past 50 years, has died.

Professor Thomson was known for her work on a variety of issues in normative ethics, applied ethics, metaethics, and metaphysics. She is the author of NormativityThe Realm of Rights, Rights, Restitution, and Risk, among many other works. One of her articles, “A Defense of Abortion,” which appeared in the inaugural issue of Philosophy and Public Affairs, may be one of the most well-known pieces of applied moral philosophy of the 20th Century.

Professor Thomson earned a BA from Barnard College and a second one from Cambridge University, where she also obtained an MA in philosophy. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University in 1959. She taught at Barnard and Boston University before being hired by MIT in 1964.

[This post will be updated with more details at a later time.]


UPDATE: 
Below is Claudia Mills‘ wonderful introduction of Judith Jarvis Thomson before her keynote address at the Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress in 2009 (via David Boonin):

By any measure, Judith Jarvis Thomson is one of the greatest philosophers of the past five decades. She has published scores of articles in the finest journals, on a dizzying array of topics in metaphysics, action theory, ethical theory, and applied ethics: “Time, Space, and Objects,” in Mind, “Grue,” in Journal of Philosophy, and “More Grue” in Journal of Philosophy, “Individuating Actions,” in Journal of Philosophy, (looking at her CV, you begin to wonder if JP ever published anybody else), “Killing, Letting Die, and the Trolley Problem” in The Monist, – major books like Rights, Restitution and Risk, Acts and Other Events, The Realm of Rights.

But if she had published just one little article, her reputation as one of the towering figures of our profession would be forever secure. Because one day in 1971, the readers of a new journal called Philosophy & Public Affairs awoke to find themselves hooked up to a famous violinist—soon to become a VERY famous famous violinist—and philosophy has never been the same.

It wasn’t only the argument that was brilliant—I’ve read that “A Defense of Abortion” is the most widely anthologized article ever in the history of philosophy. It was the subject matter: philosophers could actually write about things like abortion, they could write about ethical issues in our real, actual lives. And most of all, it was the method: to take those ethical issues in our real, actual lives, and examine them in a way that allowed us some philosophical distance from our messy, emotional involvement in them, by creating marvelously detailed fabricated stories to elicit our intuitions about them more carefully and precisely.

I was asked to give this introduction because I knew Judith Jarvis Thomson not only as a brilliant thinker, but as a brilliant teacher. When I was an undergraduate at Wellesley, I took courses with Prof. Thomson through the Wellesley-MIT exchange.  Here is my notebook from the first one: 24.231. (At MIT, departments don’t have names, they have numbers, so 24 is Philosophy – I soon learned from my classmates that it was an error to refer to the course as PHIL 24.231 – PHIL was redundant, as 24 already WAS Phil.)

To take a course with Judith Jarvis Thomson was a thrilling experience. That’s the only way to describe it. I wrote down every utterance that came from her lips. We studied Hobbes, Mill, and Nozick. When I teach Hobbes now, I teach from these notes. I haven’t found any way of improving upon them.

Here is the paper assignment for our second paper for the class, due April 7, 1975. “Is there a variety of utilitarianism which is true? If so, which? And why? If not, why not?”  One student put up his hand right away: “What do you mean, ‘is true’?”  Without a word, Prof. Thomson turned to the chalkboard and wrote: “S” is true just in case S.  That was all.  Asked for further guidelines to assist us in writing the paper, she gave us this one: “No eloquence!” I felt as if she was addressing that pithy piece of advice directly to me.

Judy Thomson taught me even more about how to write than she taught me about how to do philosophy. For one paper, she commented on my tendency to switch terminology: I’d talk about “duties” for a while, and then, to add some interest, I’d vary my vocabulary a bit and start talking about “obligations.” She taught me not to do that, that the reader was going to become alarmed: wait, a new term has been introduced, why? She taught me that the point of writing was actually to SAY SOMETHING. On another paper, when I had underlined one particular point for emphasis, she told me: “You think that if you say it loudly enough, people won’t hear how false it is.” I finally wrote a paper that began with a sentence that pleased her. I still remember the sentence. It was: “Two things seem to me to be true.” She brightened upon reading it. “You just like it because it’s short,” I told her, as I knew she had disliked my long, flowery, dare I say eloquent, sentences. “I don’t just like its length,” she told me.  “I like IT!” That was a wonderful moment that I’ve carried with me for thirty-four years. I wrote a sentence that Judith Jarvis Thomson admired.

I don’t have time to talk about her warmth and generosity as a mentor to a young woman about to enter in the mid-1970s into the male-dominated world of philosophy. I will say that when I confided in her my worries about balancing graduate study in philosophy with my relationship with my MIT boyfriend, who was spending that year studying cosmic rays in Antarctica, she pronounced Antarctica an excellent place for a boyfriend to be.

Judith Jarvis Thomson changed philosophy forever. She changed her students forever, too. It’s a great honor for me to be able to introduce her to you today.


Judith Jarvis Thomson at the 2009 Rocky Mountain Ethics Congress. Photo by Alastair Norcross.

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Bat-Ami Bar On

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/11/2020 - 12:37am in

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Bat-Ami Bar On, professor of philosophy, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Judaic Studies at Binghamton University, director of the university’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, has died.

Professor Bar On’s research was in social and political philosophy, particularly on topics in feminist theory and violent political conflict. She is the author of The Subject of Violence, among other works, and the editor of collections on feminist philosophy and Jewish identity. Her more recent research concerned war, terrorism, and refugees. You can learn more about her work here and here.

Professor Bar On taught at Binghamton University since 1991. She received her B.A. (in philosophy and sociology) and M.A. (in philosophy) from Tel-Aviv University and her Ph.D. (in philosophy) from Ohio State University.

She died this past Monday.

An obituary has been published in the university newspaper, here.

(Note: I usually include birth year in these posts; if you have that information, or any other information you think I should include, please email it to dailynouseditor@gmail.com.)

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Anne Seller (1941-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/11/2020 - 12:06am in

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Anne Seller, a philosopher who taught at the University of Kent for many years, has died.

Seller worked in political philosophy and feminist philosophy, teaching at the University of Kent from 1966 until 2002. She helped develop the university’s graduate program in Women’s Studies and played a leading role in the UK’s Society for Women in Philosophy. She was also involved with programs bringing philosophy to children. Seller received her undergraduate degree from the University of Leeds. She started doing graduate work in Oxford, before getting hired at Kent.

Miranda Fricker (CUNY) says of her, “I will always remember Anne as a marvelous figure in feminist philosophy, and at a time when it was infinitely harder to identify as a feminist philosopher than it is now. She was a wonderful teacher on the Women’s Studies MA when I was her student back in 1991. I will never forget her warmth, her intellectual generosity and energy, her independence of mind and buoyant disaffection from the mainstream of her discipline.” That quote is from a memorial notice posted by the University of Kent, here.

Seller died from injuries after being struck by a van last Wednesday.

(via Graeme Forbes)

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William J. Wainwright (1935-2020)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/11/2020 - 12:35am in

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William “Bill” Judson Wainwright, distinguished professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has died.

Professor Wainwright main research was in philosophy of religion and 17th and 18th century philosophical theology. He is the author of several books, including, recently, Monotheism and Hope In God (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and Reason, Revelation, and Devotion: Inference and Argument in Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2015). You can learn more about his work here.

Prior to his appointment at UW-Milwaukee in 1968, Professor Wainwright held appointments at Dartmouth College and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and was an undergraduate at Kenyon College.

An obituary is here.

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