UC Riverside Academic Senate

Faculty Research Lecturer

The 2012–13 Faculty Research Lecturer: Distinguished Professor John Fischer

John M. Fischer

John M. Fischer
Distinguished Professor

From its inception well over half a century ago, the Faculty Research Lecturer Award has been the highest honor that the Academic Senate bestows.  The Committee on the Faculty Research Lecturer is honored to place in nomination by acclamation, John M. Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, and UC President’s Chair, Department of Philosophy

Our selection was based on a combination of factors, including Professor Fischer’s extraordinary productivity and wide acclaim for the extremely high quality of his work, especially that dealing with the timeless issues of free will and moral responsibility. Importantly, his work, as noted by many of the extramural writers in support of the nomination, has had important impacts on several of fields beyond philosophy, including criminal law and psychiatry.

With respect to Professor Fischer’s productivity, he has authored or co-authored six books, and more than 100 essays. His nominators note that his work is discussed extensively in the authoritative Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, especially in the entry on free will. They also note that Oxford University Press, among the most prestigious publishers of philosophical treatises, has published three volumes of Professor Fischer’s essays, whereas publication of even one is considered a major scholarly achievement. Moreover, the same publisher has published nine journal symposia devoted to Professor Fischer’s work, a very rare occurrence that provides additional testament to his eminence.

The high quality of Professor Fischer’s scholarly achievement is further supported by extramural scholars who wrote to support his nomination. As one wrote regarding Professor Fischer’s work on free will and moral responsibility, “His view is, I believe, the best on offer in all of the history of philosophy.” This comment was made in light of work on free will by Aristotle, Socrates, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and more recent philosophers such as A. J. Ayer and Moritz Schlick. Another wrote “Quite simply, Professor Fischer’s work on Free Will, Moral Responsibility, and the Meaning of Life and Death is of the very highest quality and it has had a correspondingly enormous impact on the related fields. Anyone working in these central areas of philosophy must consider and respond to his account of the nature of free and responsible action, and to his work on the significance of death and the meaning of life.” Still another wrote “Fischer’s writings also range widely beyond free will and responsibility. He has written profound works on God, death and immortality, and narratives and stories as well as many issues in ethical theory…” The same writer noted “Furthermore, Fischer’s influence is not limited to philosophers. His approach to responsibility is widely cited by leading scholars of criminal law and has also shaped how many psychiatrists understand mental illness.”

Lastly, we take pride in noting that Professor Fischer, who joined our faculty in 1988, has spent the overwhelming majority of his career at here, bringing both national and international recognition to our Department of Philosophy and UCR.

For his high productivity and numerous accolades from other distinguished philosophers, the undersigned members of the Senate Committee on Faculty Research Lecturer, unanimously and enthusiastically nominate, as Faculty Research Lecturer for 2012-13, Distinguished Professor John M. Fischer. 

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