Participants

Professor of philosophy emeritus at the University of Chicago, William C. Wimsatt is known for his groundbreaking work in the philosophy of biology. His research and writing center on a cluster of problems arising in the analysis of the structure, behavior, and evolution of complex, functionally organized systems. He currently spends each fall term at the Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Minnesota, where he is Winton Chair of Liberal Arts, and continues to teach at Chicago during the spring. A graduate of Cornell University, Dr. Wimsatt first studied engineering physics then, after a year working as a designer in industry, turned to philosophy and received his baccalaureate degree magna cum laude. He went on to the University of Pittsburgh, where he held Woodrow Wilson and Mellon fellowships, and, after research in population biology at the University of Chicago as a Hinds Fellow, was awarded a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science by Pittsburgh in 1971. He then joined the Chicago faculty as an assistant professor of philosophy and was promoted to full professor in 1981. In 2007, he was named the Peter H. Ritzma Professor in Philosophy and Evolutionary Biology, a post he help until his retirement last year. Dr. Wimsatt has been a University Visiting Distinguished Professor at The Ohio State University, a 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 Austria, and a fellow at the Franke Humanities Institute in Chicago. He has held a National Humanities Center Fellowship and grants from the National Science Foundation, the System Development Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, Hewlett Packard, the Annenberg Foundation, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is the recipient of awards for curriculum innovation and outstanding graduate teaching. He serves on the scientific advisory board of the Land Institute, the board of advisors of the Philosophical Gourmet (Leiter) Report, as advisory editor Biological Theory, and on the editorial boards of Foundations of Science, Journal of Cognition and Culture, the electronic Evolutionary Psychology, and of the BioQUEST Educational Consortium. In addition to more than fifty papers published in academic journals, Dr. Wimsatt is the co-author (with J.C. Schank) of Modelling—A Primer (1993), a laboratory manual to accompany BioQUEST software, and Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality, a collection of the author’s essays addressing biological complexity, which was published by Harvard University Press in 2007.