Newsletter Fall 2011 In Memoriam: Robert Richman

In Memoriam: Robert Richman

Professor Emeritus, Robert Richman died at his Seattle home, surrounded by his family, on July 30, 2011. He was 89 years old. During World War II, Bob was a conscientious objector, and so served as a medic on the European front. After the war, the GI bill allowed Bob to attend the University of Chicago, and then Harvard, where he earned his PhD in philosophy. He married his wife, Carol in 1948, and they moved to Eugene for his first teaching position at the University of Oregon. In 1960 Bob joined the University of Washington faculty. His major philosophical interests were ethics and epistemology. In the 1960s, he served as chair for the department, which was a role he could not relinquish soon enough, as he preferred a quieter academic life that focused on graduate students. Bob loved hiking in the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier, and taking long walks in the UW Arboretum and Seattle's Seward Park. He was passionate about many things, including sports and politics. He cherished his children and grandchildren.

Bob's voice still lives in his underappreciated little gem of a book God, Free Will, and Morality. Those who know the book will recall that Bob's humor is even in the Table of Contents, which lists such chapter titles as 'Was Free Will a Pseudo-Problem?' (suggesting that solutions to philosophical problems are temporally indexed), 'The Fly in the Flypaper' (improving on Wittgenstein's famous image), 'Unprincipled Morality' (a pun), and "'With God All is Permitted'" (indicating that Ivan Karamazov got it wrong). He will be remembered for the wry humor of softly spoken remarks like the one that follows his mention of his seminars: "I have obviously failed to learn as much from my students as I should have; I have some reason to believe that this failure has been reciprocated."

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