In Memoriam

John Corcoran (1937 - 2021)

The University at Buffalo Department of Philosophy regrets to announce the passing of John Corcoran, Professor Emeritus.

A message from Lynn Corcoran on January 12, 2021

To all of John’s friends, I write with the sad news that John passed away on January 8, 2021.

In John’s academic life, teaching and research were of equal importance. He energetically engaged in both until the day he became ill. He was working on new papers and abstracts, supervising new translations of some of his papers into Arabic, Turkish, Spanish and German, and as always, mentoring young scholars via email.  His extended family includes former students from all over the world.

The day before he fell ill the weather was beautiful here in Florida. He went swimming, took a walk with me, spent some time working at his laptop, and we enjoyed a leisurely meal in our tropical garden. John lived a long and happy life, fully engaged in this world.


Remarks by Professor Emeritus John T. Kearns, longtime friend and colleague of John Corcoran:

I have been fortunate to have John Corcoran as a colleague for most of the time that I have been at UB. When he joined the Department, John immediately set about expanding the place of logic in the Department and in the University. John founded the Buffalo Logic Colloquium, and made sure that this included logicians from both within and outside of the Department–with particular attention to those in the Mathematics department. John orchestrated UB’s awarding an honorary doctorate to Alonzo Church, and was working to do the same for Alfred Tarski, though Tarski died before John could finish those plans. John’s own research honored the work of even earlier logicians, especially Aristotle, whom John showed to have, in effect, produced a sound and complete system of natural deduction for syllogistic logic. What John seemed to like best about his career was teaching logic, and encouraging students in their study of logic. After he retired from teaching, he kept up an immense correspondence encouraging others in their logical studies and logical research–encouraging them in their appreciation of logic. He saw to it that logic flourished in Buffalo, and did his best to see that it flourishes on a grander scale.


John Corcoran Professor, Emeritus, Department of Philosophy PhD, Johns Hopkins DHC, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 2003.

John Corcoran. Photo courtesy of Klaus Glashoff, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, University at Buffalo
PhD, Johns Hopkins
DHC, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, 2003
Founding Member: Buffalo Logic Colloquium (founded in 1979)

John Corcoran joined the faculty of the Philosophy Department of the University at Buffalo (SUNY) in 1970. Corcoran's work in history of logic involves most of the discipline's productive periods. He has discussed Aristotle, the Stoics, William of Ockham, Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri, George Boole, and the American Postulate Theorists, among other philosophers. His work focuses on the nature of logic, the role of logic in inquiry, the conceptual structure of logic, the metaphysical and epistemological presuppositions of logic, the nature of mathematical logic and the gaps between logical theory and mathematical practice. His mathematical logic treats propositional logics, modal logics, identity logics, syllogistic logics, the logic of first-order variable-binding term operators, second-order logics, model theory, and the theory of strings — a discipline which is foundational in all areas of logic and which provides essential background for all of his other mathematical work. In philosophy of mathematics Corcoran has been guided by a nuanced and inclusionary Platonism which strives to do justice to all aspects of mathematical and logical experience.