John Gardner at Home

Memories from Kimberley Brownlee

Dear John,

Please know that I am thinking of you each day and wishing you all the very best!

Jenny has told me that you’d be happy to be reminded of some of my best stories with you. Here are a few that came to mind immediately:

- You approved each step of my progress through the DPhil. First, you gave me the best blessing I could hope for when I started. You said: ‘You have a great topic and a great supervisor. Go have a wonderful doctorate.’ Then, you assessed my work at the probation stage, the confirmation stage, and in the viva! I have two favorite memories from the viva. One is that I didn’t understand what Antony Duff said at the beginning when he told me that I’d passed. So, for several minutes, I was puzzled as to why he and you both had wanted to shake my hand before we started our discussion. The other is that, at one stage, Antony and you disagreed with each other on a point about mixed motivations and justified action, and I got to sit back and sip my water for a few minutes!

- Reading ‘In Defence of Defences’ and ‘Reasons’ (from the Oxford Handbook) were two formative experiences during my doctorate. Several of your papers have shaped my thinking on many topics and I regularly return to them for inspiration.

- While I was at Oxford, you kindly invited me to a buffet dinner that you hosted for students and younger colleagues in your rooms at University College. I remember gorgeous food (which you’d cooked) and a wonderfully convivial atmosphere.

- University College, on your recommendation I presume, kindly awarded me a Hart Fellowship and, during my time as the Hart Fellow, you invited me to participate in the invitation-only legal and political philosophy research group (the Tuesday group, I think?). I remember feeling a near-constant state of panic during every meeting.

- I was delighted to witness your tour-de-force during the launch event for Law as a Leap of Faith. Although I’d sent you my comments in advance, neither Kristen nor Antony had had time to done so. You took no notes during our three presentations, but then gave a remarkably impressive, focused, and compelling response to each of us.

- And then there’s the story that I only know second-hand in which you presented my paper on your paper on teamwork for me, as I was on strike (Conscience and Conviction could not have had it otherwise). I wish I’d been a fly on the wall during that session, but can readily imagine that you carried off the high-wire act of charitably presenting my views while also defending your own.

Christoph, Teddy and I all send you our very best wishes, John,