William P. Alston, 1921-2009

I received this sad news today from the Society of Christian Philosophers.

Bill Alston, 87, died earlier today, September 13, 2009, at his home in Jamesville, NY.

A key figure in the founding of the Society of Christian Philosophers, Bill was a past president of both SCP and the Central APA and made significant contributions in the fields of epistemology and philosophy of religion.  His work, leadership, and exemplary model of Christian philosophy has inspired many.

Please remember his widow, Valerie, and the rest of his family in your prayers, giving thanks for Bill’s many gifts.

The following is from his faculty page at Syracuse University.

William P. Alston is a past President of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association, of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and of the Society of Christian Philosophers. Perhaps best known for his work in the philosophy of language, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion, his impact is also felt in such areas as philosophical psychology and the history of philosophy. He was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 1965-66 and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Psychology at the University of Alberta in 1975. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he received the Syracuse University’s Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement. He conducted NEH summer seminars in 1978 and 1979, and directed an NEH Institute on Philosophy of Religion in 1986. He is founding editor of the journals Philosophy Research Archives (now The Journal of Philosophical Research) and Faith and Philosophy. In October, 1987 he led a delegation of eight American philosophers in epistemology and philosophy of mind for a week of discussions with Soviet philosophers in Moscow and Leningrad. In September, 1991 he participated in a conference at Castel Gandolfo, Italy on theology and physical cosmology sponsored by the Vatican Observatory.

His publications include several anthologies; Philosophy of Language (Prentice-Hall, 1964); more than one hundred and fifty journal articles, many anthologized; eighteen articles in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Paul Edwards, MacMillan, 1967); and numerous reviews. Two collections of his essays have been published by Cornell University Press (1989): Epistemic Justification: Essays in Epistemology and Divine Nature and Human Language: Essays in Philosophical Theology. His most recent books are Perceiving God: A Study in the Epistemology of Religious Experience, (Cornell, 1991), The Reliability of Sense Perception, (Cornell, 1993), A Realist Conception of Truth (Cornell, 1995), and Illocutionary Acts and Sentence Meaning (Cornell, 2000).

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