Thursday, January 29, 2004

Richard Mervyn Hare (1919-2002)

R. M. Hare died two years ago today at the age of eighty-two. I have learned as much philosophy from him as from any other person, living or dead--and I expect to continue learning from him for as long as I live, since I have still not read everything he wrote. Over the years I had occasion to write to Hare several times. He always wrote back, busy as he must have been. His letters were warm and encouraging. In one letter he said that he despaired of the way philosophy was being conducted in the United States, but that my letter made him think that all was not lost. Needless to say, I was flattered. Later, I sent a chart of metaethical theories to him. He replied by sending a copy of his Axel Hagerstrom lectures (subsequently published as Sorting Out Ethics [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997]) and remarked that my chart was almost identical to his.

I never met Hare, but I'm pretty sure I saw him at an American Philosophical Association meeting in Atlanta in December 1989. As I entered an elevator in the conference center, I saw an elderly, distinctive-looking man approach. (Hare would have been seventy at the time.) I noticed his unruly hair. Later, when I saw a picture of Hare, I realized that it was him. I wish I had known, if only to introduce myself and tell him how much he had meant to my philosophical development. If I were stranded on a desert island and could take books by only two authors, they would be Richard A. Posner and R. M. Hare. My mind would never want for nourishment.

Addendum: Here is a memoir of Hare by one of his students, John Randolph Lucas. Here are links to many of Hare's writings. Here is a link to the web page of Hare's only son, John E. Hare, who was recently appointed Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at the Yale University Divinity School. Here is a bibliography that I painstakingly compiled over a period of many years.

Students for the Second Amendment

I'm proud to be the adviser of this student organization. Please visit its website. I hope students at other universities are as vigilant in protecting their Second Amendment rights as they are in protecting their First Amendment rights.

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