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February 3, 2000

OBITUARY: Tamara Horowitz

The first woman to chair Pitt's Department of Philosophy, Tamara Horowitz, died at her Shadyside home Jan. 30, 2000, of complications from a brain tumor. She was 49.

Horowitz first came to Pitt as an Andrew Mellon postdoctoral fellow in 1977-78. In 1985, she returned as a visiting assistant professor of philosophy and joined the faculty as assistant professor the following year. She was named associate professor, associate director of Pitt's Center for Philosophy of Science and associate professor of women's studies in 1993, and was named chair of the philosophy department last September.

At the Jan. 31 Senate Council meeting, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg called Horowitz "an outstanding scholar and teacher, an inspiring leader and a delightful colleague." At Nordenberg's request, council observed a moment of silence in her memory.

Pitt distinguished service professor Robert Brandom, former chair of the philosophy department, said of Horowitz, "She was just embarking on a career as an internationally prominent philosopher. That makes this random biological tragedy of her death particularly poignant."

Brandom said that naming her chair of the philosophy department was part reward for her accomplishments and part opportunity for growth for both her and the department. "She was energetic and interested in establishing more joint programs in an already strong department," Brandom said.

According to Brandom, Horowitz was much more than a philosopher. "She was an outspoken defender of the weak and defenseless who was committed to anti-discrimination," he said. "She was also committed to women's studies and cultural studies."

Brandom said Pitt's philosophy department, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in the National Research Council rankings, is establishing an annual lecture series for visiting philosophers in Horowitz's name.

Before joining Pitt's faculty, Horowitz served as visiting assistant professor of philosophy, State University of New York at Purchase (1983-84); assistant professor of philosophy, New York University (1978-83), and instructor and assistant professor of philosophy, Vassar College, 1974-78. She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1976). She earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Chicago in 1971.

Horowitz served on numerous committees at Pitt, including the provost's advisory committee on women's concerns, the University Senate's anti-discriminatory policies committee, the Board of Trustees affirmative action committee, the academic integrity board and the College of Arts and Sciences writing board. She also served as an advisory board member for Pitt's Cultural Studies Program.

Among numerous publications, Horowitz co-edited "Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy" (Rowman & Littlefield 1991) and "Scientific Failure" (Rowman & Littlefield 1993). Her article, "A priori Truth," was selected as one of the top 10 best philosophy papers of 1985 by Philosopher's Annual.

At the time of her death, Horowitz had just completed a book on the logic of decision-making, titled "The Backtracking Fallacy," which will be published by Princeton University Press.

Brandom called the book "a radical critique of decision-making and rational choice theories that are a paradigm in contemporary economics and social sciences. The book has the potential to be influential in fields in addition to philosophy."

Horowitz's partner, Joseph Camp, said, "She made an enormous effort in the last months of her life to finish her book, which she succeeded in doing. It made her very proud of that success." Camp is a professor of philosophy at Pitt and a fellow at the Center for Philosophy of Science.

Horowitz is survived by Camp; two sons, John Camp of Royal Oak, Mich., and David Camp, of St. Louis, and a brother, Josh Howard of Manhattan.

Contributions may be sent to the Tamara Horowitz Memorial Fund, c/o Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 917 CL.

The fund, reflecting Horowitz's wishes, will help support minority women at Pitt.

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