In Memoriam: Derek Parfit (11 December 1942 - 1 January 2017)

January 4, 2017
photo of derek parfit

It is with deep sadness that we report the loss to the philosophical community of Derek Parfit. For many years, Derek made this department another philosophical home, and during his time here he greatly enriched the lives of his faculty colleagues and students. It was a mark of Derek's generosity that, despite his eminence in the field, he could often be found talking enthusiastically with undergraduate students well after his class had ended. Although he ranked among the great philosophers of the post-war period, he never gave the impression of claiming to be anything more than Derek, a fellow sojourner in pursuit of philosophical truth. We will miss him greatly.

We include here a partial list of the tributes to Derek that have appeared in the days since his death.

Times of London obituary

London Review of Books obituary

Daily Nous tribute to Parfit

Leiter Reports notice (with video of Parfit discussing personal identity)

Vox article on Parfit's importance

New York Times obituary

Adam Hodgkin's tribute to Parfit (Hodgkin edited Parfit's Reasons and Persons for OUP)

Libération tribute to Parfit (in French)

The Guardian obituary

Finally, it seems fitting to include Derek's brief piece "Why Does the Universe Exist?", which appeared as the first article in the inaugural issue of the Harvard Review of Philosophy.

See also: Department News