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John Greer Slater was born in the United States on June 1st, 1930 and immigrated to Canada in the mid 1960’s. His major research interest is the philosopher Bertrand Russell. During his time at the University of Toronto, Professor Slater assembled the world’s largest collection of print material by and about Bertrand Russell. The collection comprises approximately 10,000 items, and helped establish the University of Toronto as a major centre for Russell studies. He also donated 8,500 philosophy books to the Fisher Rare Book Library in 1990 that form a complete collection of American, Canadian and Australian philosophy from 1870 to the time of donation.
Professor Slater earned a B.A. with High Honours from the University of Florida in 1955, followed by an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan in 1956. He completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Michigan in 1961. The title of his Ph.D. thesis was A Methodological Study of Ordinary Language of Philosophy.
Following his doctoral studies, Professor Slater was a teaching fellow, instructor, and part-time lecturer at the University of Michigan between 1956 and 1961. He was then an instructor at Wayne State University for the spring term of 1960 and 1961. Following those positions, Professor Slater was an assistant professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston, before being awarded tenure and being appointed to the Graduate School at the University of Toronto in 1964. Professor Slater was an associate professor of Philosophy from 1964 until 1988, when he was promoted to Professor.
Professor Slater mainly taught courses on the history of philosophy, logic, and the foundations of mathematics. He taught Logic, Knowledge and Reality; Modern Symbolic Logic; Bertrand Russell; and Introduction to Political Philosophy at the undergraduate level as well as Political Philosophy; Modern Logic; and Bradley and Russell at the graduate level.
At the University of Toronto Professor Slater held a number of administrative positions. Between 1969 and 1974 he served as chairman of the Department of Philosophy, chairman of the Graduate Department of Philosophy, and chairman of the Department of Ethics at University College simultaneously. Between 1981 and 1985 he was acting chairman of the Department of Philosophy, and he also served on all of the department’s standing committees as well as a number of its ad hoc committees.
Professor Slater was also active in a number of professional associations, including the American Philosophical Association, the Canadian Philosophical Association, where he served on the Executive Committee between 1969 and 1972, and the Ontario Philosophical Society.
Throughout his career, Professor Slater edited five volumes of The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, for which he won three SSHRC grants. He also edited five other books, including Pragmatism and Purpose: Essays Presented to Thomas A. Goudge (1981), and wrote a chapter of the book Russell in Review (1976). Professor Slater wrote a number of articles, book introductions, book reviews, papers and addresses, the majority of which reflected his research on Bertrand Russell as well as Logic and Philosophy. Between 1970 and 1983, Professor Slater served on the Bertrand Russell Archives Advisory Committee, and he has been a member of the Editorial Board of Russell since 1970.
Professor Slater has received honours for his work, including National Science Foundation Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Eta Sigma. Professor Slater retired officially on July 1, 1995.
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Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto