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Philosophy professor dies after long illness

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Philip Quinn, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame, died Saturday at St. Joseph’s Medical Center after a long illness. He was 64.”He was a true intellectual, and he would always take whomever he was in the conversation with seriously,” said Gretchen Reydams-Schils, a concurrent associate professor with the philosophy department. “[He was] an absolutely brilliant man, but he didn’t have a whim of snobbery about him.”Quinn, who specialized in the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of science, joined the Notre Dame philosophy department in 1985.He is survived by two sisters, Barbara Lucas of Wilmington, Del. and Elizabeth Hogen of Jacksonville, Fla.He was born in Long Branch, N.J., on June 22, 1940. He was an undergraduate at Georgetown University and graduated in 1962, then spent a year at Belgium’s University of Louvain. Quinn earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of Delaware in 1966 and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh in the following three years.He then joined the faculty of Brown University’s philosophy department, where he was appointed to the William Herbert Perry Faunce Professorship in 1982 before coming to Notre Dame three years later.”He was both a highly accomplished scholar [and] a real community person…and that’s a huge loss,” Reydams-Schils said. “He was very witty-kind of low-key humor, great moral integrity and wasn’t afraid to speak on issues he felt were right.”Quinn authored over 100 articles and reviews in a variety of philosophical journals. He published “The Divine Commands and Moral Requirements” and “The Philosophical Challenges of Religious Diversity.” Additionally, Quinn co-edited “A Companion to Philosophy of Religion.”In the past two decades, Quinn was named to a number of leadership positions in the American Philosophical Association, most notably president of its Central Division and chair of the National Board of Officers. In 2003, Quinn was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.Reydams-Schils noted that Quinn was a “formidable ally” for women students and professors in the philosophy department.”He was very visible and he was very present in the intellectual community,” Reydams-Schils said. “He was very generous in his conversations with people.”A funeral Mass will be held today at 9:30 a.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

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