Socrates Citation in Honor of Glenn Ross

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Glenn Ross arrived at F&M with a dissertation on the nature of cause and effect. In his dissertation, he defended the view that cause and effect can be understood in terms of counterfactuals—claims about what would have been the case had things been different. There is little agreement about most things in philosophy. So, it’s not surprising that many philosophers disagree about whether cause and effect can be understood in this way. There is, however, agreement within the Philosophy Department about what would have been the case had Glenn not been a member of our department for all these years. We would have been without a scholar and teacher of remarkable breadth and depth, one whose kindness and generosity were extended to all, but especially to those needing it most, whether it be the struggling student or the anxious assistant professor. We will miss him greatly.

Professor Ross earned his B.A., magna cum laude, at Westmont College and his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Arizona. At F&M—his academic home since graduate school—he earned the high honor of an endowed chair, recognized as the Dr. Elijah E. Kresge Professor of Philosophy for over two decades. He leaves F&M with a distinguished record of service, having served as a member of many committees, including two stints on the Professional Standards Committee, Secretary of the Faculty, Chair of Philosophy for a decade, President of F&M’s AAUP chapter, and Chair of Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind, one of F&M’s most distinctive programs and one that Professor Ross helped establish.

As a teacher, Professor Ross offered a wide array of courses. They ranged from lower-level classes in morality, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of religion, to upper-level seminars in rational choice theory, modal logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of natural science, and the history of philosophy. His seminars had students lead debates on some of the hardest questions in theoretical philosophy. His office hours were often spent preparing students for these debates. They were also spent working with countless students to help them get through what many consider the most difficult class of the major, Symbolic Logic. Professor Ross would also spend many hours working with his most ambitious students, providing detailed comments on writing samples for graduate school or working with them over the summer on advanced topics in philosophical logic.

As a scholar, Professor Ross worked primarily in logic and epistemology. His published work tackled some of the most difficult puzzles at the intersection of these two fields, including the Newcomb paradox, the lottery paradox, and skepticism about what we can know or have justification to believe. This work has appeared in leading journals of philosophy, including Nous and Philosophical Studies. Professor Ross also published work in the philosophy of religion and action theory. Outside of his published work, he was known for his commentary and questions at professional conferences and department colloquia.

In philosophy, there is perhaps no greater compliment than “That was a great question.” Professor Ross asked many great questions.