Robert K. Meyer, 1932-2009

Bob Meyer, emeritus professor of logic and philosophy at ANU, died last Thursday at the age of 77. He worked mainly on relevant logics and entailment, and is remembered not just for his work in logic, but also his wit and humor.

Dave Chalmers and Greg Restall remind us of the paper “God exists!”, in which Bob proved that the existence of God is equivalent to the Axiom of Choice, and the Manifesto of the Logician’s Liberation League.

UPDATE: Obit from the ASL Newsletter:

Robert Kenneth (Bob) Meyer, a major contributor in the field of non-classical logics, and a central figure on the Australasian logical scene, died in Canberra on May 6, 2009 at the age of 76, after a long struggle with cancer. Before his retirement as Professor in 1998, Meyer spent more than twenty years at the Australian National University, first in Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, and subsequently in the Automated Reasoning Project, of which he was a founder. Meyer was born on May 27, 1932 in Philadelphia. He received a Bachelor of Divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1956. After studying Japanese in Kyoto, he served as a missionary at the Christian Institute of Industrial Relations in Osaka from 1959 to 1962. Impelled by questions about the foundations of his religious beliefs, he enrolled as a graduate student in Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving a Ph.D. in 1966 under the supervision of Nuel Belnap. From 1965 to 1974, he taught in Philosophy departments at West Virginia University, Rice University, Bryn Mawr College, Indiana University, and the Universities of Toronto and Pittsburgh. From 1974 until his retirement in 1998, he was at the Australian National University. Meyer served as the President of the Australasian Association for Logic in 1982 and was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in the same year. Meyer was famous for his work in relevant logic and entailment. An early major contribution in the area was his proof (with J.M. Dunn) of the admissibility of the rule $\gamma$ in the logics $R$ and $E$. His best known work in the area is his series of papers with Richard Routley, expounding the relational semantics for relevant logics, and proving completeness theorems and many other results with its aid. Bob Meyer’s brilliance as a logician and his infectious enthusiasm stimulated the growth of the Australian school of logic. In the 1980s, the research group surrounding him pioneered the use of computers in investigating logical problems. This group formed the nucleus of the Automated Reasoning Project, that later morphed into the Logic and Computation Group (both at ANU). Bob was noted not only for his enormous and unquenchable enthusiasm for logic, but also for his wit and humour. From 1969 onwards, he was the Maximum Leader of the Logicians Liberation League; for the manifesto of the LLL see Remarkable also is his contribution to rational theology, “God Exists!” (published in Noûs 21: 345-61, 1987), in which he proves that God’s existence (under a certain interpretation) is equivalent to the Axiom of Choice. Bob is remembered fondly by his family and his many friends and colleagues as a remarkable logician, and a wonderful human being.

3 thoughts on “Robert K. Meyer, 1932-2009

  1. Rest In Peace Dad….I Will Remember and love you forever…..Notice to the World…”The “BIG FISH HAS DIED”…Youre loving son Jay

  2. Hey there, JJ.How big was that big fish? Bigger than a Volkswagon? Bigger than Toronto? Bigger than the whole wide world?I hope he’s watching over us now.We have the memories of the madness — the marathon chess championships, the “Don’t Smoke” shows, the midnight trips to Rockland, the ten of us squished into Volksy, and, of course, the color red (especially if the game happens to be Risk, although the walls of the apartment in Bryn Mawr also come to mind), and too many camping trips to count (have you ever eaten another cheese sandwich since?). It was over too quickly.Love, Gail

  3. I was an undergraduate Philosophy major at Pitt in the early 1960s. Bob was a goateed, grad-student substitute-teacher for my Ernest Sosa evening classes, for just two nights, as Sosa faced his doctoral examination.

    Bob beamed the joy of someone who gets the Cosmic Joke and lives in Divine Laughter. His presence encouraged likewise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *