By MARGALIT FOX
Ruth Barcan Marcus, a philosopher esteemed for her advances in logic, a traditionally male-dominated subset of a traditionally male-dominated field, died on Feb. 19 at her home in New Haven. She was 90.
Her death was announced by Yale University, from which she retired in 1992 as the Reuben Post Halleck professor of philosophy.
Because of its affinities with mathematics and the hard sciences — disciplines historically unwelcoming to women — logic had long been one of philosophy’s most swaggering strains. For a woman of Professor Marcus’s generation to elbow her way into the field, then dominated by titans like Willard Van Orman Quine, Rudolf Carnap and Kurt Gödel, was almost unheard of.
“The rest of philosophy became less male dominated, less macho, more quickly than logic,” Stephen Neale, distinguished professor of philosophy at the City University of New York Graduate Center, said in a telephone interview. “She was working in a field which was really run by these giants.”
Professor Marcus was hailed by colleagues for her work in quantified modal logic. The field was born of the marriage of two existing systems, classical quantified logic and modal logic — a marriage she helped bring about.
It took a while for the NYT to write this up. There was actually a bit of an organized effort on the part of philosophers to get them to publish this. In contrast, Richard Rorty's (who wasn't half the philosopher Marcus was) obit was written within a weekend.