It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear friend and colleague, David Dick.
David was an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calgary and a Fellow in the Haskayne School of Business’s Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business. These academic titles only hint at the depth of his public engagement with questions in business ethics. He oversaw Calgary’s Integrity Network and gave many invited lectures to the business community. He was also frequently asked to comment on issues in business ethics by the Canadian news media.
David’s most recent work focused on the philosophy of money. He presented on this topic at the 2022 Social Ontology and Collective Intentionality Conference in Vienna, an event which he enjoyed immensely. His research in this area has become an integral part of the recent resurgence of interest in the philosophy and politics of money. David also wrote about commodification and inequality. Besides his characteristic wit and way with words, which were on display in conversation as much as in his writing, he brought clarity and precision to his subjects of interest. In his paper “What Money Is and Ought To Be,” published in the Journal of Social Ontology (2021), he pointed out that we find teleological arguments that infer what money is from what money is for in both Locke and Aristotle, but that these arguments are of different kinds and are more successful in some cases than in others. In his paper “Impure Semiotic Objections to Markets,” published in Public Affairs Quarterly (2018), he intervened in the polarizing debate about whether commodification is an expressive wrong. His argument was that we need to pay careful attention to the variety of expressive objections in considering whether these objections are successful or not.
These professional achievements and academic interests do not do justice to what a large and beloved personality David was. David was self-effacing and funny. He would start class by writing his name on the board, waiting a beat, and then announcing: “You will call me by my first name, for obvious reasons.” David was a sharp dresser: many of us are familiar with the black t-shirt and black jacket that made him look like a European intellectual, but friends from grad school remember him wearing a tweed suit and skull ring, when he wasn’t wearing his red union t-shirt. Above all, however, and most memorably, David was deeply kind. In any gathering he was the best storyteller, yet he would always shine the spotlight away from himself. He gave his attention and time generously to his colleagues, his graduate students, and even students at other institutions.
There is a fundraiser to support David Dick’s widow, Erin Dick-Jensen. You can read about it and donate here.
- Julian Jonker and Graham Hubbs