Alan Gewirth


Alan Gewirth, 91, a University of Chicago philosopher who rejected relativist theories and espoused a universal ethical system, died May 9 of colon cancer at his home in Chicago. After rising from humble origins, Mr. Gewirth became an influential teacher and the author of seven books and hundreds of articles.

He is best known for the Principle of Generic Consistency, which suggests that self-interest and the good of the community are not opposed ideas but mutually supportive. He believed that human optimism, not based on religious faith, could overcome evil. His ideas influenced other thinkers in law and economics.

Mr. Gewirth grew up in West New York, N.J., and graduated from Columbia University, where he was concertmaster of the university's orchestra. He did graduate study at Cornell and Columbia universities before being drafted into the Army in 1942. For part of his service, he was the education officer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

In 1947, he received a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia and joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he taught such future intellectual luminaries as Susan Sontag and Richard Rorty. He was named the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of philosophy and elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among other honors.

Dan Allen

Football Coach

Dan Allen, 48, who coached the Holy Cross College football team from a wheelchair all of last season, died May 16 at his home in Westboro, Mass. He had multiple chemical sensitivity, an illness that robbed him of his mobility from the neck down.

During the 2002 season he took a medical leave but returned to coach the final four games. His career coaching record was 61-97 over 14 years.

Mr. Allen was a Holy Cross assistant from 1982 to 1989 before becoming head coach at Boston University. He was 35-34 in six years at BU, including an 11-0 season in 1993 that earned him Division I-AA coach of the year honors. Mr. Allen returned to Holy Cross for the 1996 season.