Obituary: Derek Parfit
Edmonds (David)
Source: The Times, 4th January 2017
Paper - Abstract

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Authors Citing this Paper: Parfit (Derek)

Author’s Introduction

  1. “Dear David. I hope you won’t be too disappointed. But I’m writing to ask you not to publish this article.”
  2. David Edmonds, the philosopher and broadcaster, was not disappointed. He was distraught. He had spent days researching and writing a draft of a long piece (for Prospect magazine) about the unusual marriage of Derek Parfit and his wife, also an important philosopher, Janet Radcliffe Richards. Parfit had been unhappy with a few aspects of a New Yorker profile of him, and so Edmonds thought it wise to fact-check his effort. Parfit said that Edmonds had committed numerous errors, which he then detailed over two pages.
  3. As Edmonds went through them, he realised that he had emailed a document containing his half-formed ideas and jottings by mistake. Only Derek Parfit could have believed that this gobbledegook was intended for publication. If you told him that a set of rambling non sequiturs was to appear in a prestigious periodical, that was what he believed.
  4. Parfit was one of the most important — if not the most important — moral philosophers in the world. Some of his contemporaries go further, making a compelling case that Parfit belongs to an elite canon alongside three other British philosophers in the utilitarian tradition: Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick.


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