Friday, April 27, 2012

Ruth Barcan Marcus: Philosopher

Ruth Barcan Marcus was a highly respected Yale logician and philosopher who died this past year at the age of 90.
Marcus scaled the heights of a field utterly dominated by men, at a time when sexism was rife in academia and the “old boys’ network” was still in its prime. She would tell of having to fend off the unwelcome advances of a male professor (thankfully not a philosopher!) with a coat hanger, of being barred from all undergraduate classrooms at Yale while studying there for her Ph.D., and of being forced to publish her landmark papers under her married name — just a few of the indignities she would endure. In her 2010 Dewey Lecture to the American Philosophical Association, Marcus recalled, “Yale had a philosophy club open to undergraduate and graduate students. I was elected president but then received a letter from the chair of the department suggesting that I decline. The reasons given were that Yale was predominantly and historically a male institution and that my election may have been a courtesy. Also, the club’s executive committee met at Mory’s, which was closed to women. I did not respond to the letter and did not decline. It was, to me, obviously unreasonable.”
Ruth Barcan Marcus: Philosopher -

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