Obituary: Professor Jerry Cohen

6 August 2009

Professor Stephen Guest of UCL Laws writes in memory of Jerry Cohen, Visiting Professor at UCL Laws and former assistant lecturer, lecturer and reader at UCL Philosophy (1963–1984).

“With sadness we announce that Professor Jerry Cohen, visiting Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at UCL Laws, has died suddenly, in Oxford.

Acknowledged as one of the very few top-rate political and moral philosophers of recent times, and a person of great principle, Jerry was internationally liked and respected.

His distinguished career began in the Philosophy department here at UCL.  He was then the holder of the Chichele Chair of Political Thought (formerly held by Sir Isaiah Berlin at All Souls College Oxford).

He was a well-known egalitarian, whose roots were Marxian, his first work being a massive and definitive study of Marx entitled Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence (1978), and he published widely in distinguished journals. Only last year, he published Rescuing Justice and Equality for Oxford University Press.

Jerry came to the Faculty of Laws in this academic year primarily to run our internationally acclaimed Colloquium in Legal and Social Philosophy, which he did with aplomb. A particular highlight was his chairing the session with Professor Amartya Sen, the Nobel prize-winning philosopher/economist, in front of an audience of 400 in the Chemistry Auditorium on 28 January 2009.

Known for his ability to break into popular songs, not always to illustrate a philosophical point, he was an amusing and very endearing colleague.”