I learn from here and here that Brian Barry has died. Glancing at the various Barry books I’ve got scattered around the place, I see that he he was one to pay tribute to his cat Gertie in the Prefaces of his later works.
Justice as Impartiality (1995 – I only have the Spanish version to hand, oddly enough, since I don’t really read Spanish): “… y puedo decir sin faltar a la verdad que apenas hay una pÃ¡gina de manuscrito que no muestre signos de haber sido completamente hollada por una pata felina.”
Culture and Equality (2001)Â “Like the cat on Shackleton’s Endurance, Gertie oversaw the entire operation, and made much the same kind of contribution as Mrs. Chippy, her speciality being to hide the scissors and stapler (essential tools of the trade if you write the way I do) by settling down on top of them and yielding them up only under protest.”
Why Social Justice Matters (Polity, 2005): “Those who have persevered through my previous books (or at least their prefaces [a pre-emptive reference to the Virtual Stoa - ed.]) will not be surprised by my acknowledging the role played in writing this one by Gertie. Cats have been shown to lower blood pressure, and I am sure that she succeeded in doing this every time – and there were a lot of them – that I felt I had bitten off more than I could chew. Perhaps I had, but at least I finished the book, with Gertie keeping me company almost to the last iteration of the optimistically titled ‘final draft’. However, she died at the age of 18 just before that, and this showed that I had if anything underestimated the difference she had made.”
His early books, by contrast, are free of references to cats. Political Argument (1965) thanks his two D.Phil examiners, for example (Strawson and Plamenatz), and chaps like Hart and Rawls, but no cats, and my copy of the Midway Reprint edition of Sociologists, Economists and Democracy doesn’t seem to thank anyone for anything at all (quadruped or otherwise).
(On reflection, if there is a Stoa-reader out there who would like a copy of the Spanish editions of Theories of Justice and Justice as Impartiality, do get in touch, and we can work out how to get them to you.)