David Lee Hull and Mary Anne Warren

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.  Continue reading

Reductionism in Biology: SEP entry and discussion thread

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Reductionism in Biology, co-authored by Alan Love and myself, has been published online. Section 5 mentions pluralism and ideas from feminist and social epistomology bearing on reductionism. Some of you may have views on this (e.g., on issues that we did not mention in our brief discussion). We set up a discussion thread on this SEP entry, to gather comments that we will consider when revising the entry in the future. Feel free to comment on our entry there!