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David Braybrooke was born 18 October 1924 in Hackettstown, New Jersey. While an undergraduate at Hobart College, he joined the United States Army, serving from 1943-1946. He resumed his formal education and received a BA in Economics (magna cum laude) from Harvard in 1948, and an MA (Philosophy) and PhD (Ethics, Epistemology and Economic Theory) from Cornell in 1951 and 1953, respectively. As a graduate student and over the following decade, he taught at Hobart, the University of Michigan, Bowdoin College and Yale.
In 1963 Braybrooke joined Dalhousie University, holding a joint appointment in political science and philosophy until his retirement in 1990, after which he was made Professor Emeritus. Soon after he moved to the University of Texas at Austin, where he held the Centennial Commission Chair in the Liberal Arts as a Professor of Government and Philosophy, a position that he held until his second retirement in 2005.
Braybrooke was an active member of many professional associations, including the American Philosophical Association and the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy during the late 1960s; in 1970 he was a founding member of and presenter at the initial conference of the Atlantic Region Philosophical Association (ARPA) in Halifax. He served on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) from 1970-1971, and variously as the Director, Vice President and President of the Canadian Philosophical Association (CPA) during the early 1970s. From 1981-1982 he was Vice-President of the American Political Science Association. He acted as the local representative for the Canadian Peace Research and Education Association during the 1981 Learned Societies Conference at Dalhousie. Under the auspices of the Council for Philosophical Studies, he helped to plan and stage a Summer Institute on Public Choice Theory at Dalhousie in 1984. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1980 and was involved in its activities throughout the following decade, in particular helping to elect new fellows and contributing to the Royal Society's Canadian Global Change Forum from 1986-1990.
Concurrently with his appointment at Dalhousie, Braybrooke was a visiting professor at universities including Pittsburgh, Toronto, Minnesota, California at Irvine, Waterloo, Chicago and Tulane, as well as holding visiting fellowships at Wolfson College, Cambridge, the University of British Columbia and Queen's University.
Braybrooke's research interests included problems in ethics, philosophy, and political and social science. He wrote over eighty articles and a number of monographs, including A Strategy of Decision: Policy Evaluation as a Social Process (with C.E. Lindblom, 1963), Traffic Congestion Goes through the Issue Machine (1974), A Case Study In Issue Processing, Illustrating a New Approach (1974), Logic on the Track of Social Change (with B. Brown and P.K. Schotch, 1995), Natural Law Modernized (2001), and Analytical Political Philosophy: From Discourse to Edification (2005).
Braybrooke married Alice Noble in 1948, with whom he had three children: Nicholas, Geoffre and Elizabeth Page. He later married Michiko (Gomyo), with whom he lived in Austin and spent summers in Halifax. He died on 7 August 2013 in Texas.
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