William C. Wimsatt

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William C. Wimsatt (born 7 May 1941) is is professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy, the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science (previously Conceptual Foundations of Science), and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. He is currently a Winton Professor of the Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota and Residential Fellow of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science.. is professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy, the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science (previously Conceptual Foundations of Science), and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. He is currently a Winton Professor of the Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota and Residential Fellow of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science. He specializes in the philosophy of biology, where his areas of interest include reductionism, heuristics, emergence, scientific modeling, heredity, and cultural evolution.

Wimsatt, as an undergraduate, began studying engineering physics at Cornell University. After working for a year as a designer in industry, he turned to philosophy receiving a BA degree magna cum laude in 1965.[1][5] Wimsatt then went to the University of Pittsburgh on Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and Mellon Fellowships. to study philosophy of science and received his PhD in 1971.[5] His thesis[6] consisted of a philosophical analysis of biological function. He published three papers from his dissertation: "Teleology and the Logical Structure of Function Statements",[7] "Complexity and Organization",[8] and "Reductionism, levels of organization, and the mind-body problem".[9] From July 1969 to December 1970, he was a postdoctoral fellow in population biology with Richard Lewontin at the University of Chicago, and was subsequently hired as an assistant professor of Philosophy in 1971 and promoted to full professor in 1981.[5]

In 2007, he was named the Peter H. Ritzma Professor in Philosophy and Evolutionary Biology. He has been a visiting Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University, visiting Hurst Professor and a Clark-Way Harrison Distinguished Visitor at Washington University in St. Louis, a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy, a senior fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Vienna, Austria, Winton University Professot at the University of Minnesota, and a fellow at the Franke Humanities Institute in Chicago. He is on the scientific advisory board of the Land Institute.


Publications

Here are the works of Wimsatt included in the bibliographic records of this encyclopedia:

  • Wimsatt (2006): Wimsatt, William C. (2006) Aggregate, composed, and evolved systems: Reductionistic heuristics as means to more holistic theories. Biology and Philosophy 21, 667-702.
  • Wimsatt (2007): Wimsatt, William C. (2007) Reengineering philosophy for limited beings: Piecewise approximations to reality. Harvard University Press.

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