Devon Belcher (1967-2020)

Devon Belcher, who until recently was associate professor of philosophy at Oglethorpe University, has died.

(The following memorial notice was authored by Nathan Nobis of Morehouse College)

Dr. Devon Belcher passed away on Monday, September 14, 2020. Until recently, he taught at Oglethorpe University, in Atlanta, Georgia. He taught in philosophy and in their core humanities program since 2008, beginning as an Assistant Professor and then as a tenured Associate Professor.

Dr. Belcher earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Reed College and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 2005 with a dissertation “On Words: An Essay on Beliefs, Belief Attributions, and the Ontology of Words.”

In 2013, he won his University’s Award for Meritorious Teaching. He taught and inspired students to love logic, the more technical aspects of philosophy of language and metaphysics, as well as the classics of literature and the history of science. He saw students as equals in terms of their being honest, sincere, and dedicated truth-seekers, earning their admiration and respect and, with many, their friendship and love.

Devon was a unique person, with a larger than life personality. He described learning philosophy as “learning to piss people off,” loved heavy metal music, and had a unique fascination with squirrels, pirates, and Norse mythology and Vikings. These traits endeared him to many and, like Socrates, repelled him from others.

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Phaethon Rhadamanth
Phaethon Rhadamanth
1 year ago

Devon was a valued member and moderator in my FB Group, “Voices Against Trump”. He is the source of one of the questions we use to screen new members for bots and russian agents that we unfortunately get too many of. His question: “Who has the better beard: Marx or Siszek?” Most, including me say “WTF? Who’s ‘Siszek’? But it has been very effective. His tireless devotion to our group will be sorely missed.Report

Mike Rulison
Mike Rulison
1 year ago

Never had more fun than running an honors seminar with Devon in which we read Dune. He’s one of a kind.Report

Michael Tooley
1 year ago

Devon Belcher was one of the most likable individuals that I have known. He was very lively and enthusiastic; he was straightforward and non-neurotic; he was open, warm, and friendly, and with a great sense of humor. He was a terrific colleague, with whom I very much enjoyed talking about many issues, philosophical and otherwise.

Devon was also a great teacher who was very concerned about how his students were doing. Once, for example, he had a student who seemed highly intelligent and very promising, but who seemed to lack confidence in her own abilities. Devon encouraged her to talk to me about the possibility of doing some independent work in metaphysics, and she wound up doing an outstanding honors thesis with me in metaphysics. She then went on to do a Ph.D. at a university with a first-rate graduate program in philosophy, and she is now a member of the profession. Without Devon’s encouragement, I think that this might very well not have happened.Report

mary krizan
1 year ago

Devon was one of the good guys – one of the people who helped me out when I was a lost and immature graduate student starting out in the PhD program at CU Boulder. While Devon was a serious philosopher of language and metaphysician, he also had a deep appreciation for the history of philosophy and proper respect for the a priori.

Devon’s open-source, free to use, logic textbook, Smoove Prooves, deserves special recognition. It is a clear (and entertaining) introduction to propositional logic, making a Fitch-style system of natural deduction easy for students to understand.

Devon will be missed; but, as long as I am teaching logic, his legacy will live on through Albert the Pirate Squirrel sailing the high seas of natural deduction.Report

Sam Hankins
Sam Hankins
9 months ago

I am heartbroken to read of Devon’s death. I knew him at Reed and was captivated by his humor, intellect, and kindness. I’m grateful that he had a successful career sharing his many gifts to countless students over the years and left an indelible mark on the lives of so many. The world is a poorer place for his absence.Report

Luc Bovens
8 months ago

I am very saddened by this news. Devon was my TA in a Logic class in CU at Boulder in the late 90s. We were experimenting with an early release of Barwise and Etchemendy’s *Language, Proof, and Logic*. Devon made the whole learning experience a complete blast. I have such fond memories of that class. For the students in Oglethorpe University who had the privilege of learning from him, count yourself lucky!Report