Dr. Ross, Philosophy

Dr. James F. Ross, professor of philosophy and law, passed away on July 12, 2010, at the age of 78 from complications of endocarditis.

Dr. Ross was a distinguished scholar of medieval philosophy who also worked in metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of law, theology, and philosophy of religion. He had been a member of the department of philosophy since 1962 and was the former chairman.

A native of Rhode Island, Dr. Ross received his A.B. and A.M. degrees from the Catholic University of America in 1953 and 1954, and his Ph.D. from Brown University in 1958. From 1959 to 1962 he was an instructor and then assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan. He earned a law degree from Penn in 1974. His broad research interests ranged from his specialty in medieval philosophy to contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of law, theology, and philosophy of religion.

His publications included Philosophical Theology (Bobbs Merrill, 1968), Portraying Analogy (Cambridge University Press, 1982), and most recently, Thought and World: The Hidden Necessities (University of Notre Dame Press, 2008). At the time of his death he was writing a monograph on the animal basis of distinctively human cognition, tentatively entitled, “Willing Belief and the Islands of Consciousness.”

His own death followed closely upon the loss of his wife of 54 years, Kathleen, to cancer in May 2010. A funeral Mass was held July 17 for him in Providence, Rhode Island.

A memorial service will be held in Octoberat the University of Pennsylvania and the department of philosophy will establish a prize essay in honor of Dr. Ross. Donations to the prize fund may be sent to the department, 433 Claudia Cohen Hall, 249 South 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304.

Dr. Ross is survived by sons, Seamus and Richard; daughters, Therese and Ellen; a sister; and seven grandchildren.