The Department of Philosophy of the University of Melbourne is an old one, with a wealth of history and achievements.
Philosophy was taught at the University from its foundation in 1853, and the Boyce Gibson Chair of Philosophy, founded in 1886, is, in fact, the oldest chair of philosophy in Australia (though it was given its current name only in 1966, after the retirement of Sandy Boyce Gibson, who succeeded his father, W. R. Boyce Gibson, in the Chair).
The Department started off modestly, with the appointment of Henry Laurie, who was as much professional journalist as professional philosopher. But over its life, it has grown in strength and reputation. One small statistic is an index of this. When the University was founded, it had a total 16 students. Now many hundreds of students take philosophy subjects each year.
Many members of the Department have also, of course, had notable international reputations. Apart from some of those already mentioned, these include Len Goddard, who held the Chair of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of St Andrews before succeeding Gasking in the Boyce Gibson Chair, and David Armstrong, who moved from the Department to take up the Challis Chair of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. Many outstanding international philosophers, such as (the now sadly late) David Lewis, and Jay Garfield, have also been frequent visitors, and strongly involved in the intellectual life of the Department.
The Department is now a major player on the world scene in philosophy. Two of its current research strengths are in Ethics (a major interest of Tony Coady, who succeeded Goddard in the Chair) and Philosophical Logic (a major interest of Graham Priest, the Chair's present incumbent). In both of these areas, the Department was recently recognized by the Leiter Report – a report based on peer review of English-language Philosophy Departments, published by Blackwell – as one of the top handful in the world. In addition, the department is in the process of rebuilding its traditional philosophical breadth, both in the curriculum and in hiring new staff.
Building a strong future for Philosophy at Melbourne with your help
The Philosophy program of the University of Melbourne seeks to build on this legacy in order to fortify its globally recognised distinction and
success and remain the foremost tertiary program of its kind. This can only be achieved if we can ensure that our students are able to thrive in their studies and our staff and research are well supported.
We are delighted to announce a new fund, entitled The Barry Taylor and David Lewis Philosophy Fund in memory of and to honour the distinguished contributions made to the discipline by David K. Lewis, Doctor of Letters (hon.) and Associate Professor Barry Taylor.
This new endowment has been established through the wonderful generosity of Stephanie Lewis and welcomes further contributions from any source or donor. The Barry Taylor and David Lewis Philosophy Fund will provide broad based support for the philosophy program at Melbourne.
Steffi says that it is her wish that this gift be used to establish a fund, “The Barry Taylor and David Lewis Philosophy Fund”, which could be used in any way that would support teaching and research in philosophy at the University.
For example, The Fund might be used to provide scholarships for students of philosophy at the University, to fund research support, or to support attendances at Philosophy conferences by students and staff. Your support will enhance the Fund’s abilities to reach its goals.
As part of this year’s reunion, we ask you to consider making a gift to enlarge this fund and to support Philosophy at Melbourne. With your help, we believe we can build on our past in the most important way of all: by nurturing and supporting our students, staff and research. Donations large and small are most enthusiastically welcomed.
About Barry Taylor
Barry Taylor had a distinguished 33 year career in the philosophy department at the University of Melbourne. He started out as a brilliant undergraduate at Melbourne, taking a first in both his BA and MA. After completing a DPhil at Oxford, he returned to join the department as a lecturer in 1974. He was an outstanding researcher, a popular and successful teacher, and a respected colleague.
About David Lewis
Distinguished metaphysician Professor David Lewis was a long-time friend of philosophy at the University of Melbourne. He frequently visited from Princeton University, to enjoy philosophical discussion, dining, Australian folk music, and the successes of the Essendon Football Club. David Lewis made many friendships with staff and students; which were of incalculable benefit to both the University and to David.