The APA is saddened to note the passing of Dr. Claudia Card (September 30, 1940 – September 12, 2015). Card served as president of the Central Division in 2010-2011. She was the Emma Goldman (WARF) Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with which she had been affiliated since 1966. Card earned her PhD from Harvard University in 1969 and held visiting professorships at Dartmouth College, University of Pittsburgh, and the Goethe University.
UW–Madison will hold a celebration of her life Sunday, Oct. 11 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pyle Center Alumni Lounge.
Many people have testified that Claudia was a brilliant philosopher, dedicated teacher, and generous mentor. Here, I’d like to emphasize her extraordinary courage. From the early 1980s on, Claudia produced a flow of articles and books raising hitherto taboo topics and challenging views prevailing even among feminist and lesbian philosophers. She discussed lesbian battering, sadomasochism, feminist separatism, and adult child sex, argued against marriage and motherhood and even opposed same sex marriage. Later in her career, Claudia addressed topics from which many philosophers shrink, including mass atrocities and genocidal rape, about which she gained extensive empirical knowledge. The research must have been deeply disturbing but it made possible her moral insights. More recently, Claudia faced her impending death with a calmness and good humor that many of us found inspirational. Courage should be recognized as a central philosophical virtue and no one had more of it than Claudia.
I'm so disappointed to hear of Claudia Card's death. She was my role model. Her incredible capacity to think in new and original ways, her fearlessness in promoting ideas that were initially considered unacceptable, her commitment to teaching, and to being an iconoclast in that as well. And yet, she lived from being a voice on the margins to being a featured Dewey lecturer in 2008. I am SO sorry to hear that this voice has now been silenced. I had looked forward to hearing more.
How sad that Claudia is gone. While I didn't know her well as I would have liked, everything I know and heard about her was quite wonderful: her philosophical acumen, her generosity, and her almost unprecedented ability and willingness to set aside any axes she might want to grind in order to assist the rest of us as we tried to make our work better. I had the opportunity to experience all of that first-hand when a publisher hired her to help me improve a manuscript of mine that it had accepted. Even after the many improvements she had helped me make, she ever wrote a lovely foreword, giving me all the credit for it. The book that resulted was Rethinking Ethics in the Midst of Violence: A Feminist Approach to Freedom. The publisher that had the marvelous judgment to hire her for the task was Rowman & Littlefield. I was enormously grateful.
Claudia lived an exemplary philosophical life, taking on painful, urgent subjects, confronting the worst that humans are capable of, helping us to think hard and clearly about things that matter--and sustaining herself and those around her through the pleasure she found and shared in food, music, movies, friendship and conversation, and her beloved cats. She enlivened the world.
Claudia's death is a terrible loss for philosophy, for all who fight for social justice, and for so many friends and loved ones across the world. She had a capacious intellect and an open heart. Her voice will carry on through her writings, but we will miss her smiling eyes, her sharp wit, and her warm encouragement. Kate Norlock wrote a lovely tribute on Feminist Philosophers, here: https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/claudia-card-1940-2015/