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Charge to Hugh Lacey

My job as well as my distinct pleasure is to introduce to you briefly my colleague Hugh Lacey, who is retiring this week after three1 years at Swarthmore College, most recently as Professor of Philosophy and Scheuer Family Professor of the Humanities. It is difficult to be brief, however, in light of Hugh's immense accomplishments as a philosopher, teacher, and colleague. As a philosopher of science and psychology, Hugh has had and continues to have a career of international distinction. He has published six books — three in English, and three in Portuguese — and his cv lists over 60 "Selected Articles". He has ten articles either forthcoming or in progress. He is clearly retiring in order to do even more philosophical work and to interact more frequently with philosophers around the world.

Hugh's major 1999 study "Is Science Value Free? Values and Scientific Understanding" has been translated into Russian, and it has been the subject of international conferences in Australia, Italy, Brazil, and Russia. His 1991 anthology Towards A Society that Serves its People: The Intellectual Contribution of El Salvador's Murdered Jesuits, edited together with John Hassett of the Swarthmore Modern Languages Department, earned him a plague of recognition from the University of Central America in El Salvador, presented last November. He has won numerous grants from the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Scholars Program, and Swarthmore College, among others.

Throughout his career, Hugh has focused on a number of interrelated problems: the roles of values (cognitive, moral, and social) in the natural and social sciences; values in popular political practice; the social role of the university; and agroecology. Broadly speaking, these topics all have to do with how social life under natural constraints is reproduced, and with how values might more effectively inform that reproduction than they do currently. What forms of science — natural, social, and agricultural — as systematic empirical inquiry might contribute to knowledge of social reproduction, knowledge of nature, and to a more just social life? How should systematic empirical inquiries be carried out in universities? What should be their aims and objects? How can systematic empirical inquiry be faithful to its objects of study — that is, cognitively independent of wish and fantasy — while also promoting genuine human values, rather than repressive interests in the control of human subjects and their labor?

As a teacher and colleague, just as in his writing, Hugh has brought his intelligence, analytical skill, passion, and humor to bear on these questions. In doing this, he has displayed for his students the best virtues of an intellectual life that is also a human life, devoted to understanding and to justice, and he has helped us — not only me and the members of the philosophy department, but also colleagues in Biology, Political Science, Psychology, Peace Studies, and Latin American Studies among other fields — to become more thoughtful, skilled, responsive, and responsible than we would have been without him. And often he paid for the beer.

It will be an enormous sea-change for the philosophy department and the college for us no longer to have Hugh's voice in our ears every day. Happily, that voice will continue to be aimed at the world, and it is our good fortune to hear it now.