John Anthony (Tony) Blair retired in 2006 as a University Professor after 39 years in the UW philosophy department. He was born in Ottawa (August 1941) and attended McGill University where, in addition to studying philosophy, he played on championship mintercollegiate football and ski teams. After three years of philosophy doctoral studies at the University of Michigan he began his career at the University of Windsor in 1967 and gradually progressed from lecturer to full professor by 1987.
Professor Blair initially taught courses in ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of education. In 1972 he started collaborating with Ralph Johnson on a new kind of logic course focusing on informal rather than formal inferences, and by 1977 they had written a textbook for it, Logical Self-Defense. After that, a great part of Professor Blair’s teaching was devoted to reasoning skills, informal logic and argument theory. In 1978 Blair and Johnson organized the first of three Windsor informal logic conferences and started a newsletter that in 1984 became the journal Informal Logic. Professor Blair is still an editor of the journal as it moves into its thirty-fifth year.
In the mid-1990s and the early 2000s Professor Blair served terms as department head. He was always active in departmental life and started the “Dry Run” series for faculty to try out scholarly papers. To stem enrolment declines he helped design a handful of new “popular” philosophy course. He proposed “Philosophy & Sex” but fuddy-duddies renamed it “Philosophy & Sexuality.”
In 2012, the International Society for the Study of Argumentation honored Professor Blair by awarding him its prize for lifetime achievement in argumentation studies. In recognition of his involvement with student research, the Ontario Society for the Study of Argumentation has awarded “The Blair Prize” at every one of its conferences since 2001.
Before retiring in 2006, Professors Blair and Johnson founded the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric (CRRAR). The Centre, which now enjoys a considerable international reputation, draws scholars from around the world every year to work with the CRRAR fellows at the University of Windsor.
Professor Blair published more than 120 papers.About two-dozen of them have been republished in Groundwork in the Theory of Argumentation (2011). In addition to Logical-Self Defence, which he co-authored with Ralph Johnson, he worked with other Windsor colleagues, Robert Pinto and Kate Parr, in producing Reasoning Skills: A Practical Guide for Canadian Students (1993).
Professor Blair lives in Windsor and is active as an editor of Informal Logic, as a Senior Research Fellow in CRRAR, and as a contributor to the PhD in Argumentation Studies Program.