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A Philosopher's Championship: Simon's Festschrift


“Professor Robert Simon acknowledges that he has always had ‘two great loves’ in life, aside from his family: philosophy and sports,” reported the writers of a 2014 Change-Magazine article. The recently retired Walcott-Bartlett Professor of Philosophy Emeritus’ life-long loves were celebrated in an exceptional manner this spring. An entire issue of the Journal of the Philosophy of Sports (2016, Vol. 43, No. 1, 1), the publication of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport, was dedicated to Simon’s scholarship.

The issue is the first ever Festschrift (a volume of articles, essays, etc., contributed by many authors in honor of or inspired by a colleague) by the journal. The editorial board agreed that “this honor would not become a regular feature of the journal, but rather would be reserved for rare occasions and very special people – people like Bob Simon!” wrote this edition's editor R. Scott Kretchmar, Penn State Professor of Exercise and Sport Science.

Among the chapters in the issue were:

  • Simon on Luck and Desert in Sport: A Review and Some Comments
  • Simon on Realism, Fallibilism, and the Power of Reason
  • Simon on Sport, Values, and Education
  • Academic versus Sporting Knowledge, Simon and the Debate about Sports on Campus
  • Not Forgetting Sex: Simon on Gender Equality
  • A Critical Review of Simon’s Contribution to the Doping in Sport Literature
  • On the Rationality of Inconsistent Predictions: The March Madness Paradox

In closing praise of Simon’s work, the editor wrote, “Finally, I’m sure my fellow contributors would agree with me that no Festschrift or other tribute can adequately capture the remarkable influence that Bob Simon has had on our field. We have followed his lead on many issues; we have argued with him on others; we have proposed alternate answers. But most import of all, we have not ignored him.”

Simon holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. A past Rockefeller Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, he has also served as president of the Philosophic Society for the Study of Sport.

Simon was also a Fellow at both the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1975-76) at Stanford and the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C. (1981-82). He was the successful coach of the men's varsity golf team at Hamilton from 1986-2000, during which time his teams participated in NCAA championships. He was a member of the advisory and editorial boards of the NCAA Scholarly Colloquium on College Sports.

Simon is the author of Fair Play, (Westview Press) on sports and social values.  He is also author (with Norman E. Bowie) of The Individual and the Political Order and Neutrality and the Academic Ethic, and editor of The Blackwell Guide to Political and Social Philosophy.

Simon is a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarly Achievement Award, the Sidney J. Wertimer Award presented by the Student Assembly to “a mentor and active participant within the Hamilton community,” and  the Samuel & Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

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