John Gardner at Home

Memories from Arthur Ripstein

Dear John,

I was deeply saddened to learn of the return of your cancer. I wanted to write and let you know that my thoughts are with you. The message from Jen that was forwarded to me suggested that people stay in touch with happy memories. I have a lot of cherished stories about things we did together, most of which consist in heated disagreements about topics that others observing thought we actually agreed about. We also talked about the peculiarity of philosophy as an academic discipline, that you can think someone is completely wrong about pretty much everything while thinking that they do excellent work. I am sure it was obvious throughout that this was my attitude to you. But I think my fondest memory is of a dinner that we had in Oxford in February 2001 – you, me, and Tony at a Middle Eastern restaurant. We mostly talked about ideas, but I remember being totally floored by the fact that both of you thought my work was worth having students read in the storied course on Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law.

There are, of course, many further conversations that I had looked forward to having with you, in particular about the Normal Justification Thesis and the authority (as I like to call it) that each of us has over our own body, as well as about our two radically different understandings of the way in which corrective justice rests on the continuity of what went before. I very much hope that there will be some opportunity to continue at least some of these.