Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

Edwin B. Allaire, 1930–2013

Thu, October 3, 2013
Edwin B. Allaire, 1930–2013

Edwin B. Allaire

Edwin B. Allaire (August 29, 1930-September 27, 2013) was professor of philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin from 1969 until his retirement in 2006. Elected Professor of Philosophy Emeritus upon his retirement, he continued teaching and advising students informally, until he was overcome by illness earlier this year. He was Chair of the Faculty Senate from September 1974 to August 1975.

 Prior to coming to Texas, he taught, from 1960 until 1968, at the University of Iowa, where he was chair of the department from 1965 until 1968. He was also visiting professor at the University of Michigan and Swarthmore College, and presented invited lectures and colloquies at many other universities.

Raised in Bayonne, New Jersey, he received a B.A. from Drew University in New Jersey in 1956 and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1960. 

Professor Allaire was a leader in the movement sometimes called “Iowa Ontology” and sometimes “Midwest Metaphysics,” the view that the world is best conceptualized as consisting of particulars and their properties.  He published several influential articles in ontology and early modern philosophy. He co-authored a book, Essays in Ontology (1963), and in 1995 was honored in Berkeley's Metaphysics and Epistemology: Structural, Interpretive, and Critical Essays, a bookdevoted to his interpretation of the philosopher George Berkeley.

An excellent teacher, Allaire had doctoral students who went on to teach at such highly-ranked universities as Cal Tech, the University of Pittsburgh, and Yale University.  The Graduate School at UT conferred on him an Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award in 1985. In Memoriam comments on his Facebook page testify to his great and lasting influence on students.

Ed Allaire had broad and deep interests in art and literature. He often gave books of poetry as gifts, not for any occasion and not as an obligation, but from ‘a greatness of spirit’. He would also give friends other books, such as a four-volume collection that included Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English and Fowler and Fowler’s The King’s English. He occasionally surprised the staff with bagels or pastries. He applied his understanding and appreciation of language in helping both students and his young colleagues to improve their writing.  In reviewing work of graduate applicants, graduate students, and colleagues, he became well-known for conscientiousness and effort to appreciate each person without preconceptions, as an individual.

His sometimes pointed humor always had a point—often against mean-spiritedness and oppressive bureaucracy. He once joked that “Texas was the only state with a nationalism complex.” 

He is survived by his son, Christopher, and his daughter, Valerie.

Memorial Service

A memorial was held for Prof. Edwin Allaire on November 8, 2013 at the Liberal Arts Building (CLA), UT Austin.


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