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Faculty of Philosophy


The Faculty of Philosophy is saddened to report that Michael Tanner died on Wednesday, 3 April.  Michael had been a member of the Faculty for all his adult life, first as an undergraduate on the Moral Sciences Tripos from 1955, taking firsts at Part I and at Part II,  and from 1961 as Assistant Lecturer and as Lecturer from 1965 until his retirement in 2002.

Michael made an important contribution to Philosophy at Cambridge, in particular by broadening the curriculum to include aesthetics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.  His debate with Kendall Walton at the 1994 Joint Session of the Mind Association and Aristotelian Society on the topic ‘Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality’ was the origin of the puzzle of our resistance to imagining that abhorrent moral codes could be true.  His “Nietzsche: A very short introduction” (Oxford, 200) is an exemplar of its kind:  clear, delightfully readable, and a source of insight that is the product of many years of scholarship and teaching.

Michael was also well known—and perhaps more widely known—as a musicologist, above all an expert on Wagner, and as a music critic, writing the Spectator’s opera column for almost two decades.

Michael Tanner had been a Fellow of Corpus Christi College since 1961.  He will be missed by his colleagues and friends, and by his many former students.

Professor Alexander Bird