Jordan Howard Sobel (1929-2010)
April 17, 2010 — 16:32

Author: Michael Almeida  Category: News  Comments: 7

Readers of Prosblogion will want to know that J. Howard Sobel died on March 26, 2010. Klaas Kraay forwarded his obiturary to me today, which I post below. He was a good friend and colleague, and a welcome and frequent visitor to the Brackenridge Philosophy Symposium. He loved talking about philosophy (during the Brackenridge Symposia, he’d talk philosophy at my home, with more energy than any of us, late into the evening), and had (as anyone who has met him will attest) one of the sharpest minds in the business.
David Johnson told me recently that he thought Howard’s *Logic and Theism* was the best book of it’s kind. I certainly agree. But he also made major contributions to decision theory, the logic of counterfactuals, ethical theory and metaethics. Much of his work is posted on his [site]( Howard was unfailingly kind, patient, and generous to me, no matter how often I sought his advice or asked his opinion (and that was very often). I’ll never forget that. I’ll miss him a lot.

Jordan Howard Sobel, beloved husband of the late Willa (nee Freeman) and loving father of the late Grace Ann, passed away peacefully on March 26, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Howard is survived by his dear sister Shirlee Goldman-Herzog; his sister in law Georgeanne Freeman; his nieces and their spouses, Judy and Donald Martin, Marilyn and Fred Oskin, Barbara Goldman-Wartell and Kevin Wartell, and Patti Goldman and Rick Kirst; his great-nieces and nephews, Tovah, Aaron, Jodi, Samuel, Mandy, Jeremy, Michael, MiRit, Ari, Martin and Ethan; his great-great nephew Nathan and his great-great niece Elizabeth. Howard, son of the late Gertrude (Barmash) and George Sobel, was born on September 22, 1929, in Chicago, Illinois, and graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago. He proceeded to earn degrees from the
University of Illinois, the University of Iowa and the University of Michigan, as well as an
Honorary Doctor of Philosophy from Uppsala University in Sweden in 2003. At the time of his death, Howard, a highly respected member of his profession and the author of four important philosophy books, was active as a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and a Visiting Professor at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. A long-time resident of West Hill, Ontario, and a citizen of the United States and Canada, Howard enjoyed his trips with his sister Shirlee and treasured being a part of numerous family celebrations. We will miss him greatly. A memorial service will be held Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. at the Ralph Campbell Lounge of the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus.

  • Mathis

    Did you hear that Antony Flew recemtly passed away, too?

    April 18, 2010 — 2:13
  • Luke Gelinas

    I had the good fortune to meet Prof. Sobel and spend a couple hours talking philosophy with him in 2004. I was interested mostly in his work in phil religion (though we also discussed his work on David Hume’s moral theory–which is also very good, published as ‘Walls and Vaults’ last year).
    One of the things that came through, in addition to his passion and class, was his love for philosophy of religion as a discipline and method of inquiry. We talked about how it seems to be the case that many non-theistic philosophers reject philosophy of religion as essentially a waste of time (cf. Sobel’s colleague Ronnie DeSouza’s quip that phil religion is like tennis without a net). Prof. Sobel seemed utterly unable to understand how anyone could just dismiss phil religion as a misguided waste of time, even if at the end of the day he found philosophical reflection unable to justify belief in God.

    April 18, 2010 — 12:37
  • This is a major loss. My one encounter of Sobel at Mike’s MPR workshop left a deep impression on me. His work was rigorous and he seemed to care little about academic trends. More than that, he was just a cool guy who was excited to chat about philosophy.

    April 18, 2010 — 18:19
  • I was very fortunate to be able to take a graduate course from Howard, and to have him as a member of my dissertation committee. I learned an enormous amount from him over the years. Not only was he a first-rate philosopher, he was also extremely generous with his time, and unfailingly kind to students and colleagues. He will be missed.

    April 19, 2010 — 9:30
  • Ignostic Morgan

    Dr. Sobel’s “Logic and Theism” brings to attention the grave problems of theism that I express as:” Logic is the bane of theists,” as Skeptic Griggsy. He eviscerates theism in a kind manner. My only complaint is that for a lay atheolgian like me, the modal argumentation is a no go.
    Would that someone would take up his cudgels!
    Yes, we do indeed miss him and Dr. Flew!

    April 21, 2010 — 9:43
  • Michael Sorentino

    According to The Times, Flew died April 8, 2010. Anything else on this?

    April 22, 2010 — 11:41
  • Mike Almeida
    April 22, 2010 — 12:31