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Ruth Barcan Marcus

Ruth Barcan Marcus made major contributions to logic, mathematics, and philosophy, arguing with thinkers like Bertrand Russell about the essential nature of names. Marcus graduated from NYU in 1941 with a BA in mathematics and philosophy and went on to earn a PhD in philosophy from Yale in 1946. That year she wrote a number of groundbreaking papers on calculus and modal logic including creating the Barcan Formula, which argued that all objects that could exist in possible worlds must exist in the real world. In 1961 she disputed thinkers like Bertrand Russell by theorizing that names are just tags, without descriptive content that creates or shapes identity. Marcus taught at Roosevelt University from 1959–1963 and in 1964 became head of the philosophy department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, greatly raising its national reputation. After a brief stint at Northwestern, she joined the faculty of Yale University in 1973 and remained there until her retirement in 1992. In 1993 she published a highly praised collection of essays, Modalities. She chaired the American Philosophical Association from 1977–1983 and served as president of the Association for Symbolic Logic from 1983–1986, among her many responsibilities.

1 Comment

im writing a report about ruth barcan marcus and i hink that she was a smart woman

Ruth Marcus
Full image
Logician Ruth Marcus.
Date of Birth
August 2, 1921
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
February 19, 2012

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Barcan Marcus." (Viewed on December 15, 2018) <>.


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