ForeverMissed
It is with profound shock and sadness that we farewell our beloved friend and colleague, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Brennan, who passed away on 29 July 2022 after a brief battle with leukaemia.
Geoff was an outstanding scholar, who did ground-breaking work in economics and philosophy and at their intersection and played a major role in the development of “PPE” as a global interdisciplinary research program.
Originally trained as an economist, his early work was focused on issues of public finance. From 1976-1983 he was Professor in the Public Choice Center at Virginia Tech, where he worked extensively with Nobel Laureate James Buchanan, co-authoring two important books (The Power to Tax (CUP 1980) and The Reason of Rules (CUP 1985)), and a dozen or so articles. He returned to the ANU in 1984 where he began to engage and collaborate increasingly with philosophers. In his work on democratic theory with Loren Lomasky, Democracy and Decision (CUP 1993), voters were depicted as motivated by “expressive" concerns rather than rent-seeking ones; and in his book with Philip Pettit, The Economy of Esteem (OUP 2004), as seeking the good opinion of others rather than their purses. That strand of his work continued in Explaining Norms (OUP 2013), with Lina Eriksson, Bob Goodin and Nic Southwood, which formed the basis for the account of social norms in the World Bank's 2015 World Development Report. He continued to work right up until his death on two books dealing with important themes at the intersection of philosophy and economics. In addition to the books already mentioned, Geoff was also a prolific contributor to journals across the three PPE disciplines:  the American Economic Review, the Economic JournalEconometricaOxford Economic PapersPublic Finance and Public Choice in economics; the British Journal of Political Science and Politics, Philosophy and Economics in politics; and EthicsThe Monist the Journal of Political Philosophy, the Journal of Applied Philosophy and Social Philosophy and Policy in philosophy.
Geoff received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career. He was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences in 1987 and received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of St Gallen in Switzerland in 2002. He received the 2013 Annual Distinguished Fellow Award from the Australian Economics Society and the 2014 annual Hayek medal awarded by the German Hayek Society. In 2016, he gave the Brian Barry Memorial Lecture (the LSE’s premier lecture in political science). He was President of the international Public Choice Society (the only non-American to hold that office) and an editor of several journals including Economics and Philosophy and the Economic Record.
Geoff will be remembered by his numerous friends and colleagues throughout the world, not only for his outstanding scholarly contributions, but also as an inspiring and joyful collaborator and interlocutor, and as an extraordinarily warm, generous, outgoing, and kind person. We will all miss him greatly. We send our sincere condolences to his wife Margaret, children Susan, Michael, Robyn, and Philip, and his many grandchildren.
We welcome those who were fortunate enough to encounter Geoff to share their recollections below.

Posted by Jasper Hedges on August 25, 2022
Geoff was the closest I had to a mentor during my attempt at a PhD at ANU. Even at the point of (probably) withdrawing from my PhD, he exchanged a few lengthy emails with me which were aimed not at keeping me in the program but at helping me in life in general. This showed that he cared about me, not just the institution. I was very fond of Geoff, both personally and philosophically. I loved his sense of humour and brutal honesty. In the first week of being a student who was trying to ‘fix’ climate change, he told me that experiments in game theory prove that mitigation is doomed to fail (lol). He even pointed out that this is more of a problem for me than it is for him, given our age difference. But underneath this cheeky cynical exterior, he really cared about trying to fix climate change and about improving societal wellbeing in general. He thought that perhaps we could harness parents’ love for their children to motivate action on climate change (if only everyone cared as much for their children and mentees as Geoff!). Philosophically, he was a broad and creative thinker who cared more about substance than form. His most lasting philosophical impression on me was that a large (and underrated) part of philosophical intelligence is choosing the best problems to work on. I loved the time I spent with Geoff and I’ll miss him.
Posted by Jeremy Strasser on August 17, 2022
I sent an email to Geoff with some thoughts attached, following a course he was teaching with Katie, saying "have a look if you are interested". Geoff shot back that afternoon: "Oh don't worry. I'll be interested all right."

This was his messages to graduate students: don't worry; I'm interested in you and your thoughts. What a wonderful professor to have. Thank you Geoff. We will miss you.
Posted by adrian pagan on August 16, 2022
I came from UQ to do a Ph.D at ANU in public finance with John Head. Geoff was ahead of me. I was immediately impressed with Geoff in our seminars in his comments and his wide ranging knowledge. When I got to the tennis court I was even more impressed by his elegant playing. Later, I was at my brother-in-law's wedding and stood next to Geoff. Of course I quickly gave up singing in order not to spoil his rendition. Later in life we both ended up in RSSS and he became Director. There I found he had a taste for McLaren Vale Shiraz, the bigger the better. Despite the fact that I never quite shared that taste I thought he was a great Director, although I always found his office too hot.
To me Geoff was amazingly talented and was always fun to be with at any event, which included welcomes and farewells. 
I think what amazed me most was his ability to cover many areas and to write about them in a readable way. I used to read what he wrote when I was in RSSS and realize that, even though I could never do that, one could appreciate the ideas that went into the work.
I never expected that Geoff would die at such an age. He is a great loss to Australian academia and to the US universities where he worked to set up PPE studies.
Posted by Marlene Eggert on August 14, 2022
Geoffrey was my PhD supervisor. As a health care professional I came from such a different world! But Geoffrey was keenly interested to learn about my world of work which led us into a deeply engaging two-way exploration of norms, theories and ways of being at work.
My PhD was an endlessly fascinating intellectual undertaking. Geoffrey was a wonderful source of economic concepts that provided me with the most exciting prisms through which to view my profession, offering an entirely new perspective but leaving all the central features of care intact.
I learned from Geoffrey to become a better thinker and to see more shades of grey in an argument. I also became a much better writer. And I think I became a better person because I learned about really valuing difference as an opportunity to explore. Thank you Geoffrey for affording me the privilege to learn from you, it was very, very special.
Posted by paul oslington on August 11, 2022
It has been a privilege to have known Geoff and I am deeply grateful for his encouragement and many stimulating conversations about the relationship between Christian faith and economics. As well as many other things. May Gods peace be especially upon Margaret and his family as they adjust to life without him.
Posted by John Broome on August 11, 2022
For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his vintage rolling time hath pressed,
Have drunk their cup a round or two before
And one by one crept silently to rest
(The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald)

Totally out of the blue, Geoff invited me to visit the ANU in 1986 to teach economics. We had previously not known each other. This visit altered the course of my career, and it was the start of a friendship with Geoff that has brightened my life ever since. He and his family made a return visit to Bristol some years later, and we spent time together in Uppsala, Canberra and other places. Geoff was unfailingly generous, cheerful and kind. His presence would make any gathering into a happy, enjoyable event. It was wonderful to discuss philosophy with him because he could cut quickly through the surface of a question and quickly get to its essential core. Canberra will be a poorer place without him.

John
Posted by Andrew Fraser on August 11, 2022
What a wonderful service today. Magnificent music (of course) and terrific words especially that one singled out in the homily - “encourager” – which hit right home for me.
As a not overly tuneful member of the St Paul’s junior choir (1967-72 approx), I still recall preparing for a gig with the seniors (Geoff of course had the big solo) and getting something of a ticking-off from a few of the older boys for being a half-tone flat or some other infelicity.
Walking just behind those boys, Geoff overheard all this, threw me the biggest wink, and, not breaking stride, advised my would-be prosecutors, “He’s alright. I think he makes a pretty cheerful noise to the Lord.”
I was suddenly 10-feet tall and bullet-proof.
Posted by Nic Southwood on August 11, 2022
Geoff was one of my very favourite people. Like many others, I have been struggling to accept that he won’t be part of our lives any more – that that we won’t see (or hear) him coming down the corridor booming out an aria, or attend one of his legendary wine tasting evenings, or enjoy the benefits of his intelligence and wisdom.

Geoff for me was the epitome of the distinctive culture of RSSS Philosophy and provided a model for intellectual activity and exchange that we should all be aspiring to live up to. Others have so aptly described his numerous qualities (intellectual and personal – always fused in the case of Geoff): his generosity, open-mindedness, creativity, enthusiasm, joyfulness. When I think about the numerous things he taught us all, one that comes to mind concerns *how to disagree*. Many people are capable of disagreeing respectfully. Geoff disagreed *joyfully*.

I was fortunate enough to work with Geoff on a couple of occasions. Though calling it “work” doesn’t seem quite right, suggesting something serious and onerous, whereas with Geoff it was always pure unadulterated fun. For example, the norms book was written by having regular lunches (always with a glass or two of good red) and then taking turns writing up the invariably fascinating and wide-ranging conversations that ensued. My ongoing interest in, and work on, feasibility can also be traced back to conversations with Geoff in the Coombs tea room and an early paper that we wrote together, and my book on that topic will be dedicated to Geoff.

I spoke with Geoff regularly by phone for the last few months during the course of his illness when he was no longer able to come into the office. To be diagnosed with acute leukaemia was obviously an awful situation, but I was in awe of the way Geoff navigated it – with positivity, wisdom, and even humour.

Geoff: it was an honour, privilege, and above all pleasure to have you as a mentor, colleague, and friend. We will miss you.
Posted by Gustaf Arrhenius on August 10, 2022
Dear all,

I wrote up a short obituary of Geoff which you can find here:

https://www.iffs.se/en/news/in-memory-of-geoffrey-brennan/

It includes a rather lovely video I took of Geoff singing at a conference dinner in Stockholm.

All best,

Gustaf
Posted by Ignatius Forbes on August 10, 2022
I met Geoff only once in person in 2010, after reading his work and seeing him present. Even though we spoke for less than 30 minutes, that conversation left a long-lasting impression. Geoff was very kind, warm and generous; treating the least senior and prominent of people with respect and dignity. This is sadly not always the case with people that reach Geoff's level of prominence. I treasure that conversation and Geoff to this day.
Posted by David Estlund on August 8, 2022
My kids were young when I visited ANU for a year in 2001-02, so they don’t remember most of the local philosophers they met. But they all remember Geoff, who, as he put his coat on to leave with Margaret after a small dinner party, glimpsed some sheet music on top of the piano. The ensuing musical adieu was like magic, and not just for the kids.

Generously and characteristically, Geoff and Margaret loaned us the Milton Hilton, gave me room and board in their house during a visit to Chapel Hill, and included me in their legendary wine tastings when I visited ANU. Whenever we crossed paths over the 20 years I knew him, Geoff exuded more warmth, support, and friendship than I had any reason to expect. That’s really the main thing I’ll remember…with a song in the background, of course.
Posted by Ron Manners on August 8, 2022

I was in Canberra recently, but unfortunately, due to what Geoff described as his “medical status” on that day, we were unable to meet for the last time.

In Western Australia, we highly valued Geoff’s annual contributions to the Mannkal sponsored Public Choice Theory unit and Symposium at Notre Dame University. In 2021, due to border closures, Geoff presented his work on Expressive Voting to our students via Zoom.

I am reminded how came in contact with Geoff in 1990. James Buchanan said to me (we were in Moscow at the time) “Australia is fortunate to have an economist of Geoffrey Brennan’s calibre, you should get to know him.”

During our long friendship I have valued Geoff, not only as a complete person, but one with the rare ability to roll economics, philosophy and history together into “one great big subject”.

Meanwhile, vale Geoff Brennan, we are forever grateful for your contributions.

Regards,
Ron
Posted by Alan Hajek on August 8, 2022
Geoff had a huge heart. He lit up the room whenever he joined us at seminars, teas, and other social gatherings, which he relished. He was intellectually curious, and a real polymath. I learned from him about philosophy, economics, and politics - and wine, music, golf, cricket, AFL football, and more. He was generous, kind, and warm, a man of true integrity and passion. He encouraged and inspired us, and celebrated our successes. And he had plenty of successes of his own. (I first met him at the 2003 Pacific APA when he was receiving the Gregory Kavka/UCI Prize in Political Philosophy.) He was a role model to us all. We will miss him greatly. Geoff, we raise a glass of red to you in deep appreciation of a life well lived.
Posted by John Braithwaite on August 7, 2022
Kindness is perhaps the most recurrent word in these tributes, and one I choose for Geoff. There was a grace in his joie de vivre and love of people, their ideas. He loved to listen to music, and in this, as in so many things, he spread his infectious passions for lives to be well lived. As Director of the ANU Research School of Social Sciences, his singing resonated around the Coombs corridors in a way that encouraged people to come to work. Visitors would comment on how he so loved being with colleagues that it bubbled out of him in song. He was not efficient with paperwork or digital work; yet he was a great leader and great Director who got much done by 'management through walking around'.

Until Geoff, senior RSSS appointments were notoriously all male, though previous Directors were trying (unsuccessfully) to change this culture. Geoff was the one who acted most boldly to decisively, permanently, turn that tide. On one occasion, around a fire at the Milton Hilton, an untenured woman said she thought of most RSSS professors as 'logs that might be thrown on the fire'. Geoff was shocked, as a professor, that she should say this, but wanted to know what she would do about it. When I asked Geoff years later how he was so successful at persuading senior males to take early retirement by simply persuading them to do so voluntarily, he said he started the conversation with 'I'm sure you are as disappointed as I am with how little you have been writing'  

Paul Bourke would always jibe at both Geoff and Philip Pettit for their inclination, over a glass of wine, to draw empirical inferences about history from their reading of novels. While Geoff was not a voracious reader of history, he loved being with historians to embibe their ideas and fellowship, even to the point of participating in the annual History (RSSS) versus History (Faculties) cricket match. He relished the participation of women in what was then an overwhelmingly male passion. As an umpire, he was extraordinarily adept at reasons for finding them not out.

He loved not only his own family, but our children too, and helped shape their character toward a passion for the arts, for ideas, and for generosity of spirit toward people.
Posted by Martin Krygier on August 7, 2022
As the tributes on this website make clear, Geoff was a lovely man and easy to love: good, generous, selfless, reliable, compassionate, full of love of life and people and wine and song. Not only did he have all those traits; everyone who knew him recognised them. But there was another side as well.

Two recollections might illustrate. I recall a seminar Geoff and I were at, where the rather eminent chairman didn’t shut up, and so took up most of the conversational space. I thought it a bit ridiculous but to Geoff it was not just a bore and a menace to discussion. The chair had behaved inexcusably, and Geoff couldn’t forgive or forget it. Another eminence (and friend) once asked Geoff whether, as director of the Research School, he would let his political preferences influence his academic appointments. Geoff was not just personally offended, as anyone might be, but scandalised that someone, also an academic, could think that way. His judgment at times had an austerity and a steeliness that could take your breath away. And so, I was from time to time surprised, and a little awed, by the way that some petty everyday academic unseemliness of a commonplace sort shocked Geoff, for it violated his ideal of the way the vocation must be served. His combination of geniality and generosity with the capacity for stern judgment led me to suspect he might be a rare and special kind of person. 

When I first became an academic, I met Neil MacCormick, Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and of Nations, at the University of Edinburgh. He was a marvellous member of the academy and a marvellous person. As I came to know him, I realised that these were not just two separate parts of his make-up, as liking to think and liking to drink might be, but fused. He was a marvellous academic-person. I thought this combination so over-sized in him, so extraordinary, that I decided he belonged to a very special category, which I have allowed myself to recognise, select and anoint – the academic saint. Over the years, I have recognised a few more, but only a few. They will never reach double figures.

It’s hard to say what a person needs to earn this rare distinction. Since we are talking about the life of the mind, intellectual brilliance is necessary but it is nowhere near sufficient. Similarly goodness, generosity, selflessness, reliability, compassion, love of life and people and wine and song, combined with a fundamental seriousness, are also helpful. But though they may make a person saintly, which is rare enough, an academic saint is rarer still. For such a person’s saintly qualities don’t remain just theirs; they infuse the practice of their vocation (for it is never just a job), and the lives of all those who practise it with them.

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a saint to recognise one, just to be blessed with the good fortune to meet one. Any reader of these tributes to Geoff will be struck, not only by the warmth, love and admiration that radiates out of them all, but also by the fact that they are all about the same extraordinary qualities of one very special man, which pervaded all the ways he lived, loved, thought and worked.

Geoff was the second academic saint I anointed. It happened soon after we met, just under 40 years ago. I’ve never seen reason to revisit the selection.
Posted by John Dryzek on August 6, 2022
Geoff was one of the best colleagues I’ve ever had. I have such good memories of him from the heyday of Social and Political Theory at ANU. We didn’t necessarily agree about very much when it came to political philosophy, but of course that didn’t matter. He was also good at getting generosity of spirit to prevail over petty internal university politics.
Posted by Rory Pettit on August 6, 2022
I was devastated to hear about Geoff's passing. For me, he was a mainstay of of the dinner parties at my family home that, even as a child, I longed to be a part of because they seemed so much fun. And they seemed (and were) that way much of the time entirely because of Geoff's presence, which put on display his unabashed love of wine, singing, laughter, and friendship. It was not only obvious that everybody loved him; it was obvious why they did. The Milton Hilton was his other gift to our family. I've lost count of the times we went there, a few them being that little bit more memorable because Geoff was there too. The common thread amongst all these memories was his bottomless and unqualified generosity, which is something we can all try to live up to. I'm so sorry I didn't get to see him one last time. Farewell, Geoff. 
Posted by Andrew Leigh on August 5, 2022
I overlapped with Geoff during my time at ANU from 2004 to 2010, and relished his company. Geoff was kind, witty and a superb singer; a bloke who inspired and encouraged everyone around him.
Posted by Brookes Brown on August 5, 2022
I was fortunate enough to get to co-teach with Geoff while a postdoc at UNC. Co-teach is really too grandiose a word-- Geoff took on far more than his share of the burden of lecturing and grading to make the students began to master all the relevant forms of rational choice analysis, and let me do as I would with the rest while generously backing me up at every occasion.

I was quite nervous- I'd never taught in that precise area and I'd never had my teaching closely examined by anyone but my poor unfortunate students. Geoff was the portrait of kindness. He had a way of making everyone feel important and interesting. He took what each person said seriously and thought carefully about the merits of what they were saying. He made the spaces he entered feel warmer and friendlier and yet his mere presence made all of us, I think, want to be careful, precise, serious, to abhor bullshit or posturing.

I feel lucky to have gotten to see him at work. The world is less beautiful without him in it.
Posted by Kai Spiekermann on August 5, 2022
I was a shy graduate student visiting ANU when I first encountered Geoff, keen to talk about his work on esteem, but much too anxious to start a conversation. Geoff had this remarkable talent to put you at ease and talk about philosophy. And not only philosophy -- about everything a good life has to offer (such as: wine, music, friendship, family). His warmth, his kindness, and his great sense of humour were uplifting. He was a model academic. So much so that I always felt better about our profession after having met Geoff. When I heard a few weeks ago that Geoff was not well, I wrote an awkward email. And Geoff replied, characteristically, with kindness and good humour: "I have ALL -- which for most (90%) people in my age range is fatal one way or another. But I find I have no fear of death -- and am making good progress on my last 'grand project' (a book on Econ and Phil which I promised to Princeton UP in 2008 and have never delivered on). So am in quite decent spirits!" There is the unmistakable Geoff-sound again. I will miss him so much.
Posted by Maria Delle Grotti Eusepi on August 5, 2022
Although Giuseppe started to correspond with Geoffrey in 1982, we met him in person for the first time at the European Public Choice Society meeting in Valencia in 1994. I recall vividly how Geoffrey’s loving gentleness immediately dispelled the formal atmosphere that usually surrounds introductions. He had the gift of charming those around him almost instantly. Our paths crossed again in 1999 when he arranged for us a one-month visit at the Research School of Social Sciences. That event marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship and a fruitful collaboration with Giuseppe. In that same year he supported Giuseppe’s plan to establish the European Center for the Study of Public Choice at Sapienza University of Rome. As a founding member, he poured his all into that project. His enthusiasm combined with a very high level of competence has been largely responsible for the ECSPC’s notable achievements.
Over the years, he did numerous stints in Rome and most of his joint publications with Giuseppe owe their genesis to discussions and reflections that took place while Geoffrey was a visiting scholar at Sapienza University of Rome. Those days were always very eventful. The evenings at our home with Giuseppe playing the piano and Geoffrey singing operatic areas and semi-classical songs are unforgettable. His rendition of Evgenij Onegin in mock Russian was exhilarating, and so was his imitation of some expressions in Roman dialect that he had picked up from restaurant waiters and from passers-by while strolling in the streets.
Geoffrey has been an important presence in our life. Giuseppe and I considered ourselves fortunate to have met him. I kept in touch with him after Giuseppe’s passing and his e-mails were a great source of warmth for me. His loss leaves a huge void, but it is of comfort to know that his ideas will last forever.
Margaret and the family are in my thoughts.

Maria Delle Grotti Eusepi
Posted by Atanu Dey on August 4, 2022
I was fortunate enough to meet him and spend a bit of time with Prof Brennan at the 2015 Public Choice Society conference in March 2015 in San Antonio Texas. He was kind, generous, interesting -- and what's more, he was genuinely interested to talk public choice economics with me, a total stranger to him. I had long admired his work. I knew his voice before I met him, having listened to his 2-hour conversation with Prof James Buchanan many times over the years.

Getting the opportunity to spend a bit of time with him was the high point of that PCS conference for me.

Thank you, Prof Brennan. May your work continue to inspire generations of economists.
Posted by Michael Brooks on August 4, 2022
Geoff and I shared a deep love of music, public economics, and public choice. I first meet him in 1976 when I was a graduate student at Monash University. Each and every week John Head would have members of the class offer detailed presentations of some academic paper on Public Economics. That day Geoff was visiting from ANU and John had invited him to the seminar. I was presenting some fiendishly complicated four-quadrant diagram that Geoff and his co-author Cliff Walsh had created on redistribution and horizontal equity. The presentation seemed to pass the muster. Geoff would often rib me that we were the last of the dinosaurs who found geometry a revealing way to present propositions.

Of music, I can remember in 1978 standing near Geoff at Buchanan's birthday party held in the Center of Public Choice. With Geoff taking such a strong lead role, I slipped into harmony of the last stanza of Happy Birthday. At the end Geoff nodded approvingly in my direction. I would later learn that Geoff had contemplated the life of an opera singer before deciding on the life of ideas. With that background in mind, I was surprised to discover when I stayed at Margaret and Geoff's home in 2014 that his collection of recorded music was meagre. And no fancy audiophile system was to be found. For Geoff music was something that had to be performed live, either by himself or by others. Although I did give him a record of some modern instrumental music that I thought he might share an interest, he seemed to be only interested in a Korngold aria that I had included.

Geoff's attitude to ideas was far more catholic. Although he did like to attend seminars and conferences--to hear ideas set out and debated in some live performance-- he read widely and deeply, from Adam Smith to modern works in philosophy and economics. Interesting ideas whatever the source, whether they be from students or intellectual giants in philosophy and economics, were his passion. If an idea was interesting, then it was fair game to be pushed and prodded, to yield perhaps new insights.

Ideas were worthy of extended discourse because what we thought were correct might turn out to be just not so. The aphorism sometime attributed to Josh Billings was part of Geoff's creed. He singly and with many co-authors exposed and corrected many, many ideas that were just not so. 

Discourse was not however sufficient. One must pen to paper. On a number of occasions, I can remember discussing an idea over a lengthy afternoon only to find the next morning that he had written the principal part of a new paper based only in part on our discussion. He was extraordinarily quick and good at writing. And he had an extraordinarily good grasp of economics and philosophy. So, ideas flowed as fast as he could put fountain pen to the yellow-coloured paper he preferred. Later on, typing did not slow the seemingly endless flow of original propositions.

On another forum Timur Kuran stated that with Geoff's passing the world has lost an intellectual giant. Kuran is right. 

I miss Geoff. If anything is to be salvaged from his passing far too soon, I comfort myself with the thought that if there is a heaven, then Geoff is now deep in some discourse with Smith, Buchanan, Rawls, Nozick and any other interested spirits. And perhaps with fountain pen and a yellow pad in hand he is setting out what was thought to be correct, is just not so.
Posted by Wlodek Rabinowicz on August 4, 2022
Got the following message from Björn Wittrock, the former director of the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study - where Geoff was a frequent and most welcome visitor:
"During the past years I have often thought of Geoff, his intellectual sharpness, his musical talent and his incomparable sense of humour – and ability to encounter even the most absurd features of life with a cheerful mind. He stands out as one of the kindest scholars I have had the privilege of meeting. I shall miss him deeply."
What Björn says perfectly squares with my own and my wife Ewa's fond memories of Geoff. He was avery, very dear friend, one of the best friends we ever had. A lovely man, a generous host, and someone we will always miss and remember. 

Posted by Christian Barry on August 4, 2022
I have so many fond memories of Geoff. His many kindnesses, his and Margaret's extraordinary generosity in opening their home to us for so many festive occasions; his voracious interest in ideas, his singing, his wit. He was especially welcoming to me when I came to the ANU, and his interest in my ideas was seriously confidence boosting. Geoff was a model of what wide-ranging practical thinking that drew on many disciplines could be. What was perhaps most striking to me about Geoff as an interlocutor was how open minded he was, even about topics that he had though deeply about/written on many times. When we disagreed about something, he never seemed defensive or threatened, just interested in continuing the conversation and to see if there was something new there to explore. What an admirable person we have lost.
Posted by Jonathan Pincus on August 4, 2022
Dear Geoff, Oh how I miss you.

Geoff was a 'dear man', to use an expression of his. He was great company, full of warm good humour, generosity and enthusiasm, and had a genuine affection for his friends and an interest in them, but was capable of keeping a small objective distance. He was deeply engaged in the myriad aspects of his life, in which he excelled: family, friendships, scholarship, the church and its works, music, wine.

Many months could pass without contact, and then we would pick up our conversation as though mere seconds had intervened. We produced some good articles in public economics, mostly on federalism. Working with him was so easy, for he had great enthusiasm and energy, and a commitment to follow an idea and work through its implications. He ribbed me, saying that, when he brought a novel proposition to my attention, he often received the same response, 'Yes, Geoff, but...' He was a most profound and productive scholar.

We got to know each other when we shared an office in East Block in 1973 and '74, Geoff working on the Asprey tax inquiry, me for the Priority Review Staff. A couple of years later, Geoff had me invited to the Public Choice centre, first at VPI and later at George Mason ('Bye, bye Blacksburg'). And he subsequently arranged for me shorter stays at the ANU, for joint work. We collaborated in organising Liberty Fund conferences, and I presented at Freedom to Choose events he designed. In the 2000s Margaret and Geoff generously had me stay with them when my job took me to Canberra and usually arranged a jolly dinner party.

Geoff did not seek to 'fly under the radar' politically, instead engaging early and deeply with the Centre for Independent Studies and others promoting the ideals of liberty.

The world of scholarship has lost a towering figure; the world of friendship, much more.
Posted by Rachael Brown on August 4, 2022
It is hard to really convey how much Geoff is missed at the RSSS. Our corridors are so quiet without his beautiful baritone randomly picking out a line of a favourite aria or booming out "good afternoon Prof/Dr... so and so". We all miss the twinkle in his eye and welcoming smile at tea where he would hold court with (often hilarious) stories and tales about his life, or lead the charge on getting into the philosophical nitty gritty of some problem. Our end of semester gatherings, which Geoff would ensure were suitably catered with fabulous wines, will be that little bit less jolly without his joie de vivre. Not the least, our seminars will be the poorer without his wise contributions, and the generosity and care he had for his colleagues from the most junior scholar starting on the road to the most experienced. Sincere condolences to Margaret and Geoff's family - he talked about you often and with such deep love. Vale Geoff.
Posted by Peter Dietsch on August 3, 2022
When visiting RSSS at ANU as a PhD student in 2002, I found what is perhaps the most open, stimulating and productive academic environment I have known. Geoff’s energy, generosity and capacity to build bridges between disciplines were at the heart of this successful formula. I still cherish Geoff’s advice on how to navigate the interdisciplinary space. He set an example and will be missed tremendously.
Posted by Laura Valentini on August 3, 2022
Geoff once introduced me to the distinction between “sinks” and “radiators”; not as domestic appliances (I was already familiar with those!), but as types of people. Well, Geoff was the most extraordinary radiator I have known. He unfailingly projected warmth, positive energy, joie de vivre, and generosity. And he always saw the best in people and life. I’d say he was “oriented towards the good”, not in some ascetic, self-sacrificing sense, but in the life-affirming sense of someone who appreciates and cherishes the joys life has to offer, ranging from intellectual pursuits, to good company, music, and fine wine. I can recall countless episodes where Geoff’s presence (in a seminar, social gathering, or professional exchange) made a marked difference for the better. There was the time we fortuitously bumped into a colleague at a restaurant, where this colleague was having a birthday dinner with his wife, and Geoff sang an impromptu “Happy Birthday” to him (he had an amazing operatic voice), putting big smiles on everyone’s face (everyone = everyone in the restaurant). There was the time (several years ago, I was fresh out of the PhD) I showed up in his office, pretending to have a cold, when in fact I was just fighting back tears in response to a very nasty referee report (I was inexperienced then…). When I could no longer keep up the pretence, Geoff was wonderful about it, and I left his office with a big smile on my face. Or there was the time when, through a masterful combination of good humour and academic diplomacy, Geoff prevented “a sink” in the audience from completely derailing a seminar and humiliate the speaker.

We will all miss Geoff dearly. I am very grateful that I have had the good fortune of knowing him. He has taught me a lot, not through “lecturing”, but by example. A couple of months ago, soon after being diagnosed with leukaemia, Geoff wrote (in a characteristically upbeat email to me and my husband), describing his many friends: “… Those old mates have been incredibly supportive. I am very lucky to have them; and indeed to have had the life I have lived. […] We should I think remember to relish the lives we have had. And are having!” Thank you, dear Geoff.
Posted by Simon Grant on August 3, 2022
Geoff was my teacher, mentor, colleague and boss (at RSSS), and then colleague once more. He made a profound contribution to my intellectual development and inspired me to pursue a career in the academy. As others have already noted, in addition to being a towering intellect, he was kind, wise and generous. He will be sorely missed.
Posted by Lachlan Umbers on August 3, 2022
Geoff really was an extraordinary man. Such an amazing breadth of knowledge and expertise. Such a distinguished scholar. Truly inspiring. As a graduate student, he taught me a great deal about how to do political philosophy. But he was also simply a pleasure to be around - such a delightful, engaging personality. I used to love sitting and talking with him at the old Coombs building, whether in his office or outside in the sun. He was a real friend to me, and a role model for all of us. I will miss him very much.
Posted by Katie Steele on August 3, 2022
Geoff made every occasion — whether in the PPE classroom, the research seminar, or gatherings with friends — less ordinary, more joyful, more ceremonious, more wonderful and purposeful. In this way he affirmed the various projects and activities of those around him. What a generous gift. And he was full of insights and advice. Geoff was a real humanist and he will be sorely missed by so many.
Posted by Chandran Kukathas on August 3, 2022
I first met Geoff soon after I took up a lectureship in the departments of Political Science and Philosophy at ANU in February 1987, when he was Professor of Economics in the Faculties (before he moved over to the Research School of Social Sciences). I had come from a postdoc at George Mason University, home of his old stomping-ground, the Public Choice Center. He was either on the phone or with someone when I first poked my head into his open office to introduce myself and I remember his saying something like, “don’t go away, I know just who you are.” And so we became friends. I imagine everyone who knew Geoff will recognize the man in this story: warm, generous, welcoming, hard not to like and admire.
Posted by Keith Dowding on August 3, 2022
Geoff (and Margaret) were so kind to my family and me when we were visitors to the ANU back in 2000, inviting us to their Christmas celebrations. Geoff loved talking and always had time to chat about any subject that one might bring up – I often wondered how he managed to write anything as he always seemed relaxed and jovial ready to spend hours talking. Kim mentioned his wine events, the blind red wine tasting events were such fun and revealing! Intellectually he was ferocious, but this was not obvious since everything was said with a smile and a twinkle in the eye, but the statement, ‘I have always wondered about …’ would be followed by a careful analysis of why the commonplace was in fact problematic and how those problems could be addressed. He was a true scholar, that even in his last days was thinking, and I understand writing, about fundamental issues. He will be sorely missed across the world, but especially in Canberra.
Posted by Garrett Cullity on August 3, 2022
Geoff has gone too soon! During his final illness, which he approached with wonderful equanimity, he said that it seemed to him greedy to want more years of life. Perhaps it’s greedy for us to want more time with him – but it’s hard not to. The warmth and vitality he brought to everything he did always made him a delight to be with. Geoff was someone whose intellectual gifts shone brightest with other people: for him, the scholar’s life was a life to be shared, in the same generous spirit of fellowship that he approached everyone. Conversation with Geoff took wing once he’d found something to disagree about: there was never any sense of competition—only delight in exploring ideas and thinking well together. He’ll be sadly missed, but leaves us all the richer, and with the best example to follow.
Posted by Brian Hedden on August 3, 2022
I only knew Geoff for a short time, since my arrival at ANU at the start of 2021. Despite being emeritus, he was a constant department presence, hard at work in his office seemingly whenever I passed by. He was extraordinarily welcoming; I recall fondly the wine-tastings he held at his home to welcome new arrivals and old friends. Geoff was amazing philosophical interlocutor, and I'm still thinking about the idea of the "convexity of value" that we discussed in one of our last conversations. His work will continue to influence philosophy and economics, and his memory will live on in the ANU School of Philosophy.
Posted by Brett Calcott on August 3, 2022
My most frequent interactions with Geoff were at the Coombs morning and afternoon teas, and Geoff embodied everything good about them: lots of fun intermingled with serious and enlightening debate. Always supportive and often smiling.
Posted by Philip Pettit on August 2, 2022
Geoff lived his life in the precincts of song. But if he was ever ready to reach for the high note, that was always for the sake of celebration and community, not for the joy of performance. He did enjoy performance but he took joy above all in the happiness he found, and so often evoked, in those lucky enough to share in his life. Some of us shared in that life for just a passing moment, some through years of family and friendship. But all of us now realize, in the silence of his song, that we were blessed by his presence. Thank you, Geoff; farewell, dear, dear man.
Posted by Alan Hamlin on August 2, 2022
I first met Geoff in 1982 as a visitor to the Public Choice Center in Virginia. We became friends before we became co-authors and we have been in continuing contact for 40 years - engaged in an intellectual conversation that has been an important part of my life and career – and which (as a sort of by-product) produced over 30 joint publications. Geoff had many such ongoing conversations with friends and co-authors, I count myself lucky to have had one. Geoff was the most socially and intellectually gregarious person I have ever met – always keen to engage with ideas, always with something interesting to contribute, and always able to make the discussion fun. When not in academic mode the fun continued. He took great enjoyment from life - from family, friends, music, golf and red wine – and provided great joy in return. A life well lived indeed.
Posted by Shmulik Nili on August 2, 2022
I was fortunate to get to know Geoff during multiple stays in Canberra, and was always equally impressed by his EQ and IQ. Curious, friendly, amusing, and perceptive, Geoff always gave you the confidence that whatever idea you might raise would absorb his entire attention, almost so much so that he would become more invested in the idea than you are – in the best sense possible. It was never about him, or about intellectual egos of any sort – only about the joy of thinking together.

It is so common for senior academics – whether intentionally or unintentionally - to instill all kinds of fears in younger scholars, simply through their presence. But Geoff was the kind of senior scholar who made everyone else instinctively feel more rather than less at ease. Whatever else would happen in the course of a conversation – whether in a seminar or in an informal chat – everyone could relax knowing that the exchange would be not just more insightful, but also warmer, more cheerful, sunnier, because Geoff was there. He will be sorely missed.
Posted by Eva Erman on August 2, 2022
Geoff is just one of the warmest and most generous persons I have met. I will never forget his sparkling eyes, cozy laugh and beautiful voice.

I will miss you.

/Eva
Posted by Shang Long Yeo on August 2, 2022
Geoff embodied the best of the ANU community. As a mentor he was intellectually generous, insightful, and perceptive. As a friend, he was warm, delightful, jovial. I will cherish my many good memories of him: of morning teas extending into lunch, after chasing some new philosophical idea together; of robust questions in seminars, delivered with equal parts rigour and good humour; of sharing jokes and chocolate cake in the Coombs tearoom in December; singing 'Happy Birthday to You' in his gorgeous voice; and of our last email exchange where he said: "Remind me when we meet to tell you a story about opportunity cost."

I am grateful for the kindness, insight, and joy that he brought into our lives. Goodbye and thank you for everything, Geoff. We miss you.
Posted by Kim Sterelny on August 2, 2022
Geoff was a lovely warm hearted and generous man. That was especially evident in the numerous wine events he hosted with generosity, panache and style, to a revolving bunch of shiraz-lovers, colleagues, friends and ANU visitors. He was also a terrific colleague, bringing that special collection of economists' precision and insight (life is an endless succession of trade-off decisions) together with a deep knowledge of the history of thinking about human social world. Every interaction was valuable. And I can remember not a single case of point-scoring just to showcase his mind in the many many talks in which we were both in the audience. Intellectual posturing of that kind is not a big problem in the philosophy program, but most of us have succumbed to the temptation at some stage. Not Geoff. He will be very much missed.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Jasper Hedges on August 25, 2022
Geoff was the closest I had to a mentor during my attempt at a PhD at ANU. Even at the point of (probably) withdrawing from my PhD, he exchanged a few lengthy emails with me which were aimed not at keeping me in the program but at helping me in life in general. This showed that he cared about me, not just the institution. I was very fond of Geoff, both personally and philosophically. I loved his sense of humour and brutal honesty. In the first week of being a student who was trying to ‘fix’ climate change, he told me that experiments in game theory prove that mitigation is doomed to fail (lol). He even pointed out that this is more of a problem for me than it is for him, given our age difference. But underneath this cheeky cynical exterior, he really cared about trying to fix climate change and about improving societal wellbeing in general. He thought that perhaps we could harness parents’ love for their children to motivate action on climate change (if only everyone cared as much for their children and mentees as Geoff!). Philosophically, he was a broad and creative thinker who cared more about substance than form. His most lasting philosophical impression on me was that a large (and underrated) part of philosophical intelligence is choosing the best problems to work on. I loved the time I spent with Geoff and I’ll miss him.
Posted by Jeremy Strasser on August 17, 2022
I sent an email to Geoff with some thoughts attached, following a course he was teaching with Katie, saying "have a look if you are interested". Geoff shot back that afternoon: "Oh don't worry. I'll be interested all right."

This was his messages to graduate students: don't worry; I'm interested in you and your thoughts. What a wonderful professor to have. Thank you Geoff. We will miss you.
Posted by adrian pagan on August 16, 2022
I came from UQ to do a Ph.D at ANU in public finance with John Head. Geoff was ahead of me. I was immediately impressed with Geoff in our seminars in his comments and his wide ranging knowledge. When I got to the tennis court I was even more impressed by his elegant playing. Later, I was at my brother-in-law's wedding and stood next to Geoff. Of course I quickly gave up singing in order not to spoil his rendition. Later in life we both ended up in RSSS and he became Director. There I found he had a taste for McLaren Vale Shiraz, the bigger the better. Despite the fact that I never quite shared that taste I thought he was a great Director, although I always found his office too hot.
To me Geoff was amazingly talented and was always fun to be with at any event, which included welcomes and farewells. 
I think what amazed me most was his ability to cover many areas and to write about them in a readable way. I used to read what he wrote when I was in RSSS and realize that, even though I could never do that, one could appreciate the ideas that went into the work.
I never expected that Geoff would die at such an age. He is a great loss to Australian academia and to the US universities where he worked to set up PPE studies.
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