In Memoriam: Terence Parsons

Published: August 3, 2022

The UCLA Philosophy Department is saddened to mark the passing of Professor Terence Parsons (1939–2022). Professor Parsons was Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he had been on the faculty since 2000. He was a much-loved colleague, who brought compassion, humor, and his extraordinarily good-tempered advice to department life.

After studying at Rochester and earning his PhD from Stanford University in 1966, he taught at the University of Illinois Chicago (1965–1972), the University of Massachusetts Amherst (1972–1979), and the University of California, Irvine (1979–2000), where he was also the Dean of Humanities (1985 to 1991). When he joined us at UCLA, it was with a joint appointment in Philosophy and Linguistics. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and served as Vice President and then President of the American Philosophical Association’s Pacific Division from 2012-2014.

Terry was the sole author of more than thirty articles, four books on metaphysics and various aspects of the semantics of formal and natural languages, as well as a book on the art of parachuting (he was part of a world-record-holding parachuting team). Through his work in the philosophy of language, he revitalized interest in Meinongianism and in the medieval antecedents of contemporary logic. He remained an active and inspiring member of both departments until his formal retirement in 2012, after which he continued to write and enliven our graduate teaching program. His attention in later years focused on medieval theories of semantics, and the history of logic in general. In 2014 he published Articulating Medieval Logic, widely recognized for its scope and accomplishment.

Terry was also a remarkably generous contributor to the work of others. His modesty, his wit, and his clarity of thought were the hallmarks of his personality. He enriched the lives of his many good friends on the faculty and among our students.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Dr. Anette Johnson, his stepson, Rex, and Rex’s daughter, Erica.

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