William P. Alston, 1921- 2009

The Christian philosophical community has lost one of its most influential luminaries. William P. Alston – past president of the Society of Christian Philosophers and the APA, and author of numerous philosophical works in epistemology, religion and language – died today in his home in Jamesville, NY, at the age of 87. Alston was a central figure both in analytic philosophy and Christian philosophy, contributing in no small measure to the latter’s current resurgence and vitality. He wrote prolifically throughout his fifty-year career; advancing the project of reformed epistemology and publishing on topics as wide-ranging as divine command  theory, realism about truth, ontological commitment, sense perception, linguistic acts, epistemic circularity, and the problem of evil. Alston’s thought has spawned an enormous body of commentary, both critical and appreciative: including symposia, articles, conference discussions, multiple citations throughout analytic literature, and two festschriften. He was a true intellectual force and his impact has been profound, both setting the standard for penetrating and rigorous evaluations and inspiring, by all accounts, through his leadership and civility.

Keith DeRose at Certain Doubts has links (via Daniel Howard-Snyder) to a fuller biography of Alston and a comprehensive bibliography of his writings. You can also peruse Michael Sudduth’s page of online articles by Alston.

UPDATES:

Matt Flannagan offers some brief thoughts on Alston’s legacy.

Jeremy Pierce reflects on his own personal memories of Alston as a philosopher and teacher.

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