William Wimsatt

William Wimsatt
Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus
University of Pittsburgh, PhD (1971); Cornell University, BA (1965)
Teaching at UChicago since 1971
Research Interests: philosophy of biology, psychology, and the social sciences

William Wimsatt, Peter B. Ritzma Professor Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, served as Professor of Philosophy and is a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology and the Committee on the Conceptual Foundations of Science. He studied engineering, physics, and philosophy at Cornell, earning a BA in 1965. He received the PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 and began working at the University of Chicago in the same year. Wimsatt taught in the Biology Collegiate Division (undergraduate), the Committee on Conceptual Foundations of Science (graduate), the Program in History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science (undergraduate), the Committee on Evolutionary Biology (graduate), the MA Program in the Social Sciences (graduate), and, of course, the Department of Philosophy (graduate and undergraduate). His work centers on the philosophy of the inexact sciences--biology, psychology, and the social sciences--the history of biology, and the study of complex systems. He continues, in retirement, to teach classes.

William Wimsatt won the 2015 Norman Maclean Faculty Award from the UChicago Alumni Association.

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Selected Publications

Wimsatt, W. C., and J. C. Schank (1993), Modelling--A Primer (or: the crafty art of making, exploring, extending, transforming, tweaking, bending, disassembling, questioning, and breaking models).

Wimsatt, W. C. (Spring 2007), Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: piecewise approximations to reality.  Harvard University Press.  (472pp, 40% new material). Due to be translated into and published in Portugese in 2009 (according to license from Harvard University Press)

Soler, L., Trizio, E., Nickles, T. and Wimsatt, W., eds. (2012), Characterizing the Robustness of Science, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, v. 292.

Caporael, L., Griesemer, J. and Wimsatt, W., eds. (2013), Scaffolding in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition, KLI series in Theoretical Biology, MIT press.

W. C. Wimsatt and A. C. Love, eds. (2017), Beyond the Meme: the role of structure in theoretical accounts of cultural evolution (proceedings of a conference at Minnesota in Fall 2014), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, University of Minnesota Press, about 400 pp.

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Media

William Wimsatt, lecture