He was for many of us a role-model, professionally and temperamentally. He wrestled with the legacy of his famous Nobel laureate father Arthur Compton [papers... Wiki], a key participant in the Manhattan Project. He was unusually sensitive to moral complexity, a philosopher genuinely committed to asking all the hard questions and to really hearing discordant answers. As one colleague from Psychology put it, he defied the stereotype of philosophers who like argument merely for its own sake alone: he was an "illuminating" interlocutor, a searcher after truth.
My old mentor and John's colleague John Lachs was among those in attendance. He gave me an inscribed copy of his new book, a perfect reminder of just how grateful I and generations of Vandy philosophy students should be, for our generous allotment of search guides.