Arthur J. Dyck, Professor Emeritus, Dies

August 17, 2022
HDS Professor of Ethics Emeritus Arthur Dyck seated at a table holding a piece of paper in his hand next to a vase containing flowers of various colors.
HDS Professor of Ethics Emeritus Arthur Dyck. Photo courtesy family of Arthur Dyck.

Arthur J. Dyck, Professor of Ethics Emeritus at Harvard Divinity School and Mary B. Saltonstall Professor of Population Ethics Emeritus at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, passed away on Thursday, August 11, 2022, at the age of 90.

Dyck started teaching at HDS in 1965 and earned his PhD in religious ethics from Harvard in 1966. His research centered on ethical theory, moral knowledge, human rights, and bioethics. During his tenure at Harvard, Dyck served as director of the Kennedy Interfaculty Program in Medical Ethics and was a member of the Harvard Center for Population Studies. He also developed new courses that incorporated research in morality being generated by the neurosciences and the newly designated field of neuroethics.

Students were eager learn from him. Dyck co-taught an undergraduate course “Problems in Medical Ethics,” which drew more than 300 students one semester.

"Arthur Dyck was a tireless and devoted scholar," said HDS Dean David N. Hempton. "His legacy as an engaged scholar and teacher will be remembered at HDS while we also mourn his passing and offer our condolences to his family."

Dyck wrote numerous scholarly articles and in 2005, Georgetown University Press published his revised version of Rethinking Rights and Responsibilities (1994), which reflects his extensive work in moral knowledge, ethical theory, and bioethics. During his career he studied ethical issues that arise in the context of care for the dying and wrote two books on physician-assisted suicide, When Killing Is Wrong (2001) and Life's Worth (2002).

In 1953, Dyck graduated from Tabor College with a bachelor's degree in sociology, and earned master's degrees in psychology and philosophy from the University of Kansas in 1958 and 1959. He was a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Public Health Association, the Société Européene de Culture, and the Society for Christian Ethics.

—by Michael Naughton