Friday, July 22, 2005

Frederic Fitch

Fitch received a doctorate from Yale in 1934. I've no idea who was at Yale in that period doing logic, so I can't even make an educated guess on his teacher. I see that Alan Ross Anderson lists Fitch and von Wright as his principal teachers in the introduction to Entailment -- any information on which of the two was primary, or more official?

Update: I've placed Fitch under Filmer Northrop in the tree, and Anderson under Fitch.


Anonymous Philip Kremer said...

My belief is that von Wright was Anderson's advisor for the Master of Arts at Cambridge, and that Fitch was Anderson's advisor for the PhD at Yale.

Regarding Anderson's relationship to von Wright, note the following remarks of von Wright's, in the von Wright Schilpp volume (p. 856): "I first met Alan Ross Anderson early in 1951. He had come to Cambridge as a Research Student for the degree of Master of Arts. He was working on the problem of counterfactual conditionals, with Broad as his supervisor. After a short time he became my supervisee. Modal logic was then my main research occupation. Alan caught my enthusiasm for this new subject, and we agreed that he should write his thesis on the decision problem of Lewis's system S3. While struggling with this problem, he was at the same time a forceful critic of the work which I was doing. The critical spirit of our conversations is reflected in the review which he wrote for the Journal of Symbolic Logic
of my Essay (ML)."

Regarding Anderson's relationship to Fitch, University Microfilms has the following dissertation in its database (

DATE: 1955

This dissertation has got to be with Fitch: Fitch was at Yale, and von Wright wasn't (I think).

I hope that this helps,


7/25/2005 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Josh Dever said...


Thanks, that's very helpful. Given that Anderson received a Yale PhD, I think it's certain that Fitch was his advisor. I've modified the tree to mark that. Now I just need a parent for Fitch...

7/26/2005 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Philip Kremer said...

I emailed the Yale library, to see if Fitch's advisor was indicated anywhere in his dissertation. I got the following reply: "I have reviewed Frederic B. Fitch's 1934 Yale dissertation. As is typical of dissertations from that time period, no individual is listed as the thesis advisor nor is there any page of acknowledgements. On the inside front cover there is an indication that this particular copy was from Professor Northrop. I assume that this was Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop, who at the time was a professor of philosophy, but his relationship to the writer of the thesis
is not stated."

There's a discussion of Northrop here, though I don't know how reliable it is:

I think that it's plausible that Northrop was Fitch's advisor.


8/06/2005 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Josh Dever said...


Thanks for the detective work. Rich Thomason tells me that he recognizes Nirthrop as the name he was told for Fitch's advisor.

8/08/2005 11:55:00 AM  
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