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Robert Fogelin


Sunday, October 30, 2016

White River Junction, Vt. — Robert Fogelin, professor of philosophy and Sherman Fairchild Professor in the Humanities emeritus at Dartmouth College, died at his home in White River Junction, Vt., Monday, Oct. 24, after dealing with Parkinson’s Disease.

A leading American philosopher known for his work on philosophical scepticism, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and David Hume, he taught at Dartmouth from 1980 to 2001. In 2005 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

An admired and beloved colleague, according to Christine Thomas, chair of the Dartmouth philosophy department, she said, “Bob was a shrewd and whimsical philosopher, a generous colleague and mentor, and a warm, bright friend. He made those around him better. That’s no small thing.”

Fogelin received a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1960 and was on the faculties of Pomona College and Yale University prior to Dartmouth College, receiving awards for teaching at all three institutions. At Yale, his introductory philosophy course had an enrollment of almost 800 students. National recognition of his teaching and scholarship includes the Robert Foster Cherry Great Teacher Award (Baylor), the Romanell-Phi Beta Kappa Professorship in Philosophy, and fellowships at the Rockefeller Study Center (Bellagio), the Liguria Center for the Study of the Arts and Humanities (Bogliasco), the Australian National University, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford).

Fogelin’s many books include Walking the Tightrope of Reason; two studies of Wittgenstein; and four studies of Hume, including one forthcoming, Hume’s Presence in The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (a posthumous book about Hume’s posthumous book). His informal logic textbook, Understanding Arguments, is now in its ninth edition.

Former students, now themselves members of AAAS, have praised his influence in their own books: Don Garrett, professor of philosophy at New York University, says he is an exemplar of a “Humean virtuous person” —“that is, a person with a generous array of mental qualities useful and agreeable to the possessor and others, mixed in just the right proportions.” Susan Wolf, professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, says, in introducing her to philosophy, he “brought out the excitement, the challenge, and the sheer fun of it.”

He is survived by his wife, Florence Fogelin; three sons: Eric Fogelin, Shasta, Calif., John Fogelin, Petersfield, England, Lars Fogelin, Tucson, Ariz.; and two grandchildren, Oliver and Isabelle, Petersfield, England.

A reception short on memorializing will be held at a date in early December.

Again according to Thomas, Bob always knew how to throw a good party.