Professor Baier, a longtime member of the philosophy faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, passed away last night in her native New Zealand. She was best-known for her seminal contributions to moral philosophy and to the study of the philosophy of David Hume. I will post memorial notices as they appear.
UPDATE: Charles Pigden (Otago) has sent me the memorial from the Otago Department:
It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Annette Baier, who passed away at two o’clock this morning (Friday the 2nd of November) in Dunedin hospital where she had been admitted, following heart problems, earlier this week. She was 83.
Annette C Baier (nee Stoop) was born in 1929 in New Zealand, and remembered swag men coming to the house for food during the Great Depression. Her father, a keen amateur astronomer would show her the craters of the moon and the rings of Saturn on cold clear nights. She studied Philosophy at the University of Otago where her teachers included D. D. Raphael and John Passmore, both of whom helped to foster her interest in Hume. She went on to do a B.Phil at Oxford where she wrote a dissertation on ‘Precision in Poetry’ under the supervision of J.L Austin (whose shoes sometimes bore the evidence of recent visits to see his pigs). She had a teaching post at St Andrews and another at Auckland, and it was on her way to take up this latter position that she started a shipboard romance, as a result of which she became pregnant. The conventions of the day meant that she had to have the baby in secret, giving her up for adoption. It was only many years later that she was happily reunited with her long-lost daughter, Sarah, and discovered that she was already the grandmother of four grandchildren.
Annette had a rather stormy career at Auckland due to tensions with her boss R P. Anschutz (who she describes as an enemy but a generous one). She eventually left to take up a post at Sydney, but not before meeting and marrying Kurt Baier in 1958. They had a long and happy marriage lasting till Kurt’s death in 2010, partly for the usual reason that they laughed at the same jokes. However, she did not stay long at Sydney, as Kurt had a job in Canberra, and she disliked the moralistic cult of free-love, then current amongst some members of the Sydney department. In 1962 Kurt was offered a chair at Pittsburgh and the Baiers left Australasia for the States. At first Annette taught at Carnegie Mellon, before joining the Pittsburgh Department in the 1970s.
It was at Pittsburgh that her career really took off. She became famous as a moral philosopher, a Hume scholar and a feminist, with books such as Postures of the Mind: Essays on Mind and Morals (1985), A Progress of Sentiments: Reflections on Hume's Treatise (1991), Moral Prejudices (1995)(including the essays "What Do Women Want in an Ethical Theory?" and "The Need For More Than Justice") and The Commons of the Mind (1997). She was also an inspiring and much loved teacher. She served as President of the Eastern Division of the APA (as did Kurt), gave the Paul Carus Lectures in Philosophy (as did Kurt) and was invited to be a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (as was Kurt), making them perhaps the only husband and wife duo to achieve this trio of distinctions.
In 1995, the Baiers retired to New Zealand dividing their time between Queenstown and Dunedin where Annette was an active and much-valued regular at the Otago Departmental Seminar. After a brief pause to write up her husband’s life, she returned to philosophy, publishing four more books during her retirement: Death and Character: Further Reflections on Hume (2008), The Cautious, Jealous Virtue: Hume on Justice (2010), Reflections on How We Live (2010) and The Pursuits of Philosophy (2011). Friends and students of Annette – and we know she had friends the world over - will be pleased to know that she was active in philosophy right up to the last, attending and
contributing to the Otago Departmental Seminar with her usual wit and acuity to within a few weeks of her death. Her last comment was a criticism of the error theory of her friend and former colleague J.L Mackie. She will be sorely missed.