This week saw the death of two colleagues-at-a-distance whom I more than respected, not simply and coldly for their contributions to philosophy, but for the friendship and caring mentorship they each showed to me early in my career, as I know they did with others. I’ll keep this brief here, just giving some general pointers and two short memorial anecdotes I’ve already posted at other sites.
David Hull was the founding figure in the philosophy of biology. John Wilkins has already got three posts up on him at Evolving Thoughts, David Hull is dead, David Hull’s Philosophy, and Ruse on Hull: A Memoir. The last makes me cringe a little, but that’s probably because Michael Ruse often induces that effect, at least in me. In response to the first, I said:
David was one of the three people I sent my first attempt in phil of biology to–the others were both people in the field whom I’d had some contact with before in other contexts. I was a third year assistant professor mainly working in phil of mind and cog sci at the time, and the paper was on John Dupre’s “promiscuous realism”. Like the others, David wrote back encouragingly and sympathetically. The welcoming response from David, especially since I was a complete stranger to him, marked an important contrast with the fluff and competitiveness of phil of mind at that time, and it made phil of biology a truly attractive option for me to pursue more seriously. There are likely many other short anecdotes about David’s kindness and professional integrity, but this small one with a big effect for me is what comes to mind first. He will be missed all round.
I also admired David for his successful efforts to convince the Philosophy of Science Association to avoid holding its meetings in overtly homophobic states.
Mary Anne Warren was one of four philosophers who, in essence, put applied ethics on the philosophy map in the early 1970s. She did that through her striking pro-choice views on abortion and infanticide. (Two of the others, Judith Jarvis Thomson and Michael Tooley, also had influential views on this topic as well; Peter Singer, of course, was the other, working on our obligations to distant others, and then animal rights.) Mary Anne’s books were Gendercide (1985, on sex selection) and Moral Status (2000). At Feminist Philosophers, I said:
I knew Mary Anne via Michael Scriven during his time at the University of Western Australia in the 1980s, and through her connection to Michael Tooley, who was the head of department in Philosophy there at that time. I had seen her most recently at last year’s APA Pacific, where she attended an invited session on “Human Kinds” that I organized. I’m shocked to hear of her death (“passing” just wouldn’t sound very MAW to me), especially since the last words I had from her, about Michael Scriven, were that he was still very active and “gunna live forever”, said with the kind of wryness that I knew her for.
Mary Anne was a full person in a way in which too many academics manage, somehow, not to be. When a bushfire destroyed their California home, the two losses noted with most regret, but completely without self-indulgence of any kind, were her cats and her paintings. I think Michael’s hope was to return more permanently, together, to the southern hemisphere. But the cliche “you can take the girl out of California, but …” held in spades for Mary Anne, and she was right that it was all so far away from everything else. Missed already.
There just doesn’t seem to be much up on the web about Mary Anne, so if anyone has something to add, please pass it on in comments or to me directly. (The Wiki stub doesn’t add much that isn’t here already.) She had been part-time for a long time at San Francisco State University, but even just when she retired–she really wasn’t all that old–I’m not sure.