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June 3, 2020 at 11:45 am

Eminent Philosophers Extol Jack Bender’s Legacy

Jack Bender , portrait

Dr. Jack Bender

Eminent philosophers Wayne Davis, Keith Lehrer and Jerrold Levinson extol the late Jack Bender’s legacy in the American Philosophical Association’s Memorial Notice.

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Professor John W. “Jack” Bender. Born on October 22, 1951, in Pittsburgh, PA, Jack died on September 14, 2019.

In epistemology, Jack’s work focused on defending foundationalism and critically engaging the influential coherence theories advanced in the 1980s. Some of this work grew out of an NEH summer seminar directed by Keith Lehrer and Alvin Goldman. Keith Lehrer recalled:

His participation was invaluable and led to his editing a book, The Current State of the Coherence Theory: Critical Essays on the Epistemic Theories of Keith Lehrer and Laurence Bonjour, with Replies in 1989, which was a critical study with essays by multiple authors. It was a volume that involved us in collaboration. I recall the episode with pleasure and as the beginning of a valuable ongoing philosophical relationship with Jack. As I was replying to my critics, Jack reminded me to express my gratitude to the authors engaging critically with my work.

Among Jack’s contributions to this debate were the following articles he co-authored with Wayne Davis: “Coherence Is Insufficient for Epistemic Justification” (Proceedings of the Ohio Philosophical Association, 1988, 1–12); “Fundamental Troubles with Coherence” (in The Current State of the Coherence Theory, Philosophical Studies Series 1989, 52–68), and “Technical Flaws in the Coherence Theory” (Synthese, 79, 1989, 257–78).

Jack’s research also included significant contributions in aesthetics. Jerrold Levinson remarked:

Jack was the very model of a modern major analytic aesthetician. The high regard in which I held Jack was reflected in my assigning him one of the first and most important articles in the Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics I edited which appeared in 2003. Jack’s early articles on the nature of aesthetic supervenience and the limitations of that concept for criticism were remarkably rigorous and of no small influence. Also notable was Jack’s impressive expertise concerning wines, the centerpiece of his gourmet approach to life more generally, and something that he effectively exploited in his some of his writing on gustatory and aesthetic taste….

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