Roger F. Gibson, Professor and Chair Emeritus of the department, has died after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Roger received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1977 and began teaching at Washington University in 1985. He served as Chair from 1989-1999. Regarding as one of the world’s leading authorities on the philosophy of W.V. Quine, Roger published two books: The Philosophy of W.V. Quine: An Expository Essay (1982) and Enlightened Empiricism: An Examination of W.V. Quine’s Theory of Knowledge (1988), co-edited Perspectives on Quine (1990) and The Cambridge Companion to Quine (2004), and edited Quintessence: Basic Readings (2008). A festschrift was published in his honor, Naturalism, Reference, Ontology: Essays in Honor of Roger F. Gibson, edited by Chase B. Wrenn (2008).
Before taking up the study of philosophy as an undergraduate at Truman State University in 1971, Roger served in the U.S. Marines from 1962-66 during the Vietnam war, attached for a time as aide to General Westmoreland. After completing his Ph.D. and beginning his career, he received grants from the NEH, was elected President of the Central States Philosophical Association in 1983/84, co-organized an international conference on Quine (which brought twenty four of the world’s leading scholars to campus, in addition to Quine himself) and, in an important moment in the history of the department, received a large grant from the James S. McDonnell Foundation that led to the creation of the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology program.
Roger was one of the university’s and discipline’s great leaders. A person of courage and compassion, he combined vision with wisdom, humility with tenacity and strength. To all who knew him, he was a friend in the best sense of the word.