Robert Ammerman (1927-2021)

Robert R. Ammerman, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has died.


Mike Titelbaum, chair of Wisconsin’s Department of Philosophy, shared the following obituary, which was written by Professor Ammerman’s son:

Robert R. Ammerman, Ph.D. joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin in 1957. He was born in Buffalo, New York in 1927, and moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1937. In 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 88th Infantry Division in Italy. In 1947, he participated in the first U.N. Peacekeeping Mission in Trieste. Discharged in 1948, he enrolled at Swarthmore College in 1949, graduating with highest honors in 1953. After a year pursuing graduate studies in philosophy at Princeton University, he transferred to Brown University. He received his doctorate in 1956, completing his dissertation under the guidance of Richard Taylor, Ph.D. He joined the Department of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin later that year, achieving the rank of professor. He focused his scholarly activities on the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein. He was passionate about teaching and introduced new and popular courses in diverse topics in and related to philosophy. He was a close colleague of William Hay, Ph.D., Marcus Singer, Ph.D., and Claudia Card, Ph.D. With Dr. Singer, he edited Introductory Readings in Philosophy in 1962, which was widely adopted as a textbook around the country. His Classics in Analytic Philosophy, first published in 1966, is still in print. He retired in 1989. After living in Italy for a year, he settled in Florida until 2001, moving then to Cincinnati, Ohio to be closer to his son and grandchildren. He died on May 28, 2021 and is greatly missed by family and friends.

You can browse some of Professor Ammerman’s work here.

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11 months ago

As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin – Madison I took my introductory philosophy course from Professor Ammerman. I was immediately hooked. How could he, and all the guys in the readings, be so logical, be so brilliant! I decided right then to major in philosophy, despite my friends telling me this was impractical. Again as an upperclassman I took another course with Professor Ammerman. I was not disappointed.
Of course, I did buy a copy of his Classics book. Also took courses with Professor Hay. One was Greek philosophy and one was a seminar. These were great experiences for me and I have never forgotten my esteemed educators.

Scott Forschler
Scott Forschler
8 months ago

I took two or three classes from Robert, among the last he ever taught, in my first year in graduate school at UW; I was studying political science, but insisting upon taking several philosophy courses on the side. I made a good choice–he taught interesting topics, and was both informative and dryly humorous. Most memorable was his basing our grades in the Wittgenstein course on a “3-4 page” term paper, which he then revised mid-semester to “just 3 pages,” adding that if you couldn’t explain what you had gotten out of Wittgenstein in 3 pages, you weren’t understanding him. He was correct.