In Memoriam

Richard Thompson Hull (1939 — 2021)

Richard Thompson Hull (1939 - 2021).

Richard Thompson Hull (1939 - 2021)

The University at Buffalo Department of Philosophy regrets to announce the passing of Richard Thompson Hull, Professor Emeritus, on March 15, 2021.

In Memoriam, Richard Thompson Hull, 1939-2021 

Richard T. Hull, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, died on March 15, 2021, in Tallahassee, Florida. Hull’s scholarship centered on medical ethics and medical humanities, with prominent publications in reproductive ethics and clinical ethics. He received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1994, the highest award given by the SUNY system in recognition of exemplary teaching and significant contributions to institutional quality in instruction. After entering semi-retirement in 1997, his interests turned to history and historiography of philosophy, particularly the history and presidents of the American Philosophical Association. Professionally, his devotion to the quality of academic productivity brought him to the leadership of the Texas Council for the Humanities, and then the Text and Academic Authors Association. Hull is also warmly remembered for his attention to the secular humanism movement, his articles in magazines such as The Humanistand Free Inquiry, and his collaborations with The Center for Inquiry, founded by his Buffalo colleague Paul Kurtz.

Hull was born on December 29, 1939 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to John Montague Hull and Wilma Winter Hull. After high school he joined the Army and then the Army Reserves for six years. Entering Austin College in Sherman, Texas, he met and soon married his wife, Elaine M. Hull. Upon graduating in 1963, they went to Indiana University in Bloomington to earn doctorates, his in philosophy and hers in psychology. His 1971 dissertation on “The Role of the Principle of Acquaintance in Contemporary

Disputes over the Relation of Mental, Perceptual and Physical” was directed by professor Milton Fisk. Positions for them both were ready at SUNY Buffalo; Hull was assistant professor of philosophy from 1971 to 1974, associate professor from 1974 to 1995, and professor from 1995 until retiring as emeritus in 1997. His many students fondly recall his strongly supportive guidance at every level from introductory classes to dissertation phases, and far beyond graduations. To be a student of his was to be a friend and colleague for life. 

Hull also held joint appointments, at Buffalo and elsewhere. He was a clinical assistant professor in the School of Medicine, teaching medical and clinical ethics alongside colleague Stephen Wear for a program that was later organized as the Center for Clinical Ethics and Humanities in Health Care. He was Scholar-in-Residence at Buffalo General Hospital during 1995–96, and he frequently served on hospital ethics committees in the region. He was Visiting Distinguished Professor for the Institute of Medicine and Humanities at the University of Montana in 2003, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Philosophy of Texas State University-San Marcos in 2013. His research articles appeared in such journals as The Hastings Center ReportThe Journal of Value Inquiry, and the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. His book on Ethical Issues in the New Reproductive Technologies went through several printings over many years. 

Service to education and humanities scholarship was a permanent part of Hull’s academic life. During a leave of absence, Hull was the Headmaster of Calasanctius Preparatory School in Buffalo during 1984–1986, restoring that institution’s financial stability. Upon leaving Buffalo, he became the Executive Director of the Texas Council for the Humanities from 1997 to 1999. During the 1990s and early 2000s, he worked closely with the Value Inquiry Book Series (then with Rodopi, now with Brill) to advance its mission of encouraging scholars around the world to publish expertly translated and edited books in the English language. He then edited the ten volumes of the Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 1901–2000. These activities led to his position as Executive Director of the Text and Academic Authors Association from 2005 to 2013 (now Textbook and Academic Authors Association), headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, and he played an advisory role until his death. His tireless energies also vitalized the American Society for Value Inquiry, the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love, and humanist societies in Florida. His library of many thousands of volumes was donated to the American Institute for Philosophical and Cultural Thought near Carbondale, Illinois.

(Also see Tallahassee Democrat)

Areas of Specialization

Bioethics; History of 20th Century American Philosophy; Philosophy of Mind.

Selected Publications

  • Richard T. Hull and Michael Lennie "Why E-Textbooks Just Make Sense: An Academic and a Literary Agent Explain," Publishers Weeklyl, November 15, 2012.
  • Paul Abplanalp, PhD, OD, Richard T. Hull, PhD, "Considerations of Informed Consent by Proxy in Pediatric Optometry," Optometry & Vision Development 43:2 (2012), pp. 60-66.
  • Editor, Presidential Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 5 Volumes: 1901-1910, 1911-1920, 1921-1930, 1931-1940, 1941-1950, Amherst: Prometheus Books.
  • Ethical Issues in the New Reproductive Technologies, Wadsworth, 1990. Expanded second edition available online here
  • "The Case for Physician-assisted Suicide," Free Inquiry, 23 (2) (Spring 2003) pp.35–36.
  • "The Alchemy of Informed Consent," The Journal of Clinical Ethics, vol 13 no 1 (Spring 2002) pp. 63-65.

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