May 2, 2024

John Martin Fischer elected to AAAS

The induction will occur in September

Author: Sandra Baltazar Martínez
May 2, 2024

John Martin Fischer, distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He will be inducted this fall.

Fischer joins Academy members that include historical figures such as George Washington, Albert Einstein, and Nelson Mandela. Among those members are also other renowned American philosophers, including Robert Merrihew Adams, Susan Wolf, Thomas Michael Scanlon, Jr., and Thomas Nagel. 

The recognition is a testament that philosophy is vital and important, said Fischer, who also carries the unique distinction of University Professor within the University of California system. A University Professor is a longstanding tradition within the UC, reserved for scholars of the highest international distinction who are recognized and honored as the top scholars on their campus and are respected as teachers of exceptional ability. Fischer is one of only 40 University Professors and the only professor of philosophy in the group. 

“First and foremost, I am very humbled by this award, especially knowing the group I'll be joining and mindful of the many equally qualified people who haven't yet been invited. I feel honored that my research over the course of 45 years is being recognized,” Fischer said. “I have addressed age-old problems, such as free will, moral responsibility, death, immortality, and meaning in life — great questions humans have asked for millennia. It is wonderful to see that work on these perennial “existential” questions is still valued.”

John Martin Fischer (UCR)

One of Fischer’s great contributions to the field is the ability to reach broad audiences through his creative approach toward exploring central philosophical and religious questions. One such example is his series of conversations on immortality, the fear of death, and finding the meaning of life

Fischer’s work on these subjects was made possible in part by a $5.2 million grant from The John Templeton Foundation for “The Immortality Project.”

His lecture at Washington State University on near-death experiences has received 5.1 million views. His YouTube videos and podcasts on various subjects, including near-death experiences have received almost 10 million views. 

“Faculty such as Professor Fischer make CHASS unique. His expertise on life, death, and morality illuminates the world around us and challenges our thinking and understanding of the human condition,” said Kiril Tomoff, interim dean of UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. “Professor Fischer is an integral part of UC Riverside’s history, and we are proud of his well-deserved induction into this esteemed Academy.”

Fischer is the author, co-author, or editor of 20 books, including his newest co-authored publication, “Should You Choose to Live Forever?: A Debate,” published in December 2023. The book addresses in a back-and-forth debate, the pros and cons of living forever. 

“John has distinguished himself as a leading philosophical voice in the treatment of freewill and moral responsibility, the significance of death and the desirability of immortality, and the meaning of life – all enduring questions of great humanistic significance,” said Andrews Reath, UCR Department of Philosophy chair. “In being elected to the Academy, John joins many other important scientists, scholars, and artists. It is a great – and well-deserved – honor for him and a distinction for UCR.”

According to its website, the Academy was founded in 1780 to honor excellence and to convene leaders from every field of human endeavor to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and work together “as expressed in our charter, ‘to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.’”

“Our current members represent today’s innovative thinkers in every field and profession, including more than 250 Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners,” AAAS said in a statement.    

The 2024 induction will take place on Saturday, September 21 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s headquarters. 

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