Abner Shimony (1928 – 2015)


Abner Shimony, professor emeritus of philosophy and physics at Boston University, has died. Professor Shimony was known for his work in philosophy of physics. A detailed obituary is here, and an entry in Wikipedia on him is here.

From the obituary:

After graduating Summa cum Laude in mathematics and philosophy from Yale in 1948, Abner was a student of Austrian philosopher Rudolph Carnap at the University of Chicago. He subsequently returned to Yale, entering the Graduate Program in Philosophy where he earned his doctoral degree in 1953. It was there that Abner met Annemarie Anrod of Evanston, Illinois, then a graduate student in Yale’s Department of Anthropology. They were married on September 1st, 1951 and remained together until her death forty-four years later. From 1953 to 1955 Abner was in the US Army’s Signal Corps of Engineers. It was during these years that he decided to continue his education. He said to Annemarie, “When I finish the military service, I’m going back to school to get a doctorate in physics.” Years later he recalled the event saying, “Any normal wife would say, ‘isn’t it about time that you get a job?’ She didn’t say that. She said, ‘if that’s what you want to do, that’s what you should do.’ ” Abner enrolled at Princeton in 1955 and studied with Nobel prize-winning physicist Eugene Wigner, earning a second doctoral degree in 1962. He taught philosophy of science at MIT from 1959 until 1968 in the school’s Department of Humanities. In that year he transferred to Boston University, beginning a 26 year appointment in both the Physics and Philosophy Departments.

Below is a video of him speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Boston Colloquium for Philosophy of Science:

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