Marvin Kohl, Philosopher and Author, Dies at Eighty-Eight

Nicole Scott

Marvin Kohl, PhD, died on July 8, 2020, in an assisted living facility in Massachusetts after surviving COVID-19 in April. Kohl, for more than thirty years a philosopher in the SUNY system, was the author of The Morality of Killing and the editor of Beneficient Euthanasia and Infanticide and the Value of Life. He was a longtime contributing editor of Free Inquiry.

Kohl was born in 1932 in Manhattan. He joined Jewish progressive Zionist youth movements dedicated to creating social justice, peace, and coexistence in Israel and North America. He was the first in his family to attend college. He met his wife in 1953 at a farewell party when drafted to the Korean War, where he worked as an analyst in the Pentagon. He earned his doctorate in philosophy from New York University, joining the faculty at Fredonia State University in 1965, where he worked for over thirty years. After spending a year on a Fulbright in Hong Kong, Kohl retired from SUNY Fredonia and moved back to New York City in 1996, where he and his wife lived in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. He was a visiting scholar at CUNY Graduate Center and an adjunct professor at the New School.

Kohl was a spokesperson for “Promethean Altruistic Humanism.” He held a special regard for his work with the Bertrand Russell Society, having served as its president.

Kohl’s creativity, curiosity, interest in the world, and compassion for others will always be remembered. Most of all, he was a kind, deeply tolerant man, open and accepting, no matter a person’s background or beliefs. A recent recollection described him as a living example that it was okay to be different and follow your own inspiration. And that he did. He was a man of principle, ethics, humor, and humanity.

Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is the managing editor of Free Inquiry.


Marvin Kohl, PhD, died on July 8, 2020, in an assisted living facility in Massachusetts after surviving COVID-19 in April. Kohl, for more than thirty years a philosopher in the SUNY system, was the author of The Morality of Killing and the editor of Beneficient Euthanasia and Infanticide and the Value of Life. He was …

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