Marshall Abrams. Associate Professor
Humanities Building 418
(205) 996-7483

Research and Teaching Interests:  Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Social Science, Philosophy of Probability, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Language, Modern Philosophy, Symbolic Logic

Office Hours: W 1:30-2:30 p.m.; and by appointment

  • AB, University of California Davis, Ontology and Cognition
  • PhD, University of Chicago, Philosophy

I love thinking about philosophy of science and other areas of philosophy, and about the relationship between sciences and humanities. Philosophy of science is the area of philosophy that investigates how scientific knowledge depends on the ways that scientists design and perform experiments, observe nature, formulate their ideas, and use mathematical models and computers. Even though science is woven into our lives, few people stop to think about the deep philosophical questions that it raises.

Philosophy of science overlaps with other philosophical areas, including epistemology (the study of knowledge and justification), metaphysics (the study of the nature of reality), and ethics (because science can depend on choices that involve ethical issues). Although philosophy of science is one of the core areas of philosophy, it's also fundamentally interdisciplinary: In addition to studying philosophy, philosophers of science have to study sciences. History and other social sciences also play an important role in philosophy of science.

By the way, my courses usually don't assume that you already know about any of the things mentioned above! All that you need is an interest in philosophy — or in science. I teach courses on general philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind and artificial intelligence, philosophy of social science. I also teach interdisciplinary courses that integrate philosophy with other areas of study.

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  • Evolution and Human Life
  • Minds and Machines
  • The Scientific Enterprise
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Meaning, Emotion, and Society
  • Holding Together: Coherence in Culture, Reason, and Action
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Contemporary Moral Issues
  • “Coherence, Muller's Ratchet, and the Maintenance of Culture,” Philosophy of Science 82 (No. 5, 2015).
  • “Environmental Grain, Organism Fitness, and Type Fitness,” in Entangled Life: Organism and Environment in the Biological and Social Sciences, Gillian Barker, Eric Desjardins, and Trevor Pearce, eds. (Springer, 2014).
  • “A Moderate Role for Cognitive Models in Agent-Based Modeling of Cultural Change,” Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling 1 (No. 16, 2013).
  • “Implications of Uses of Wright's Fst for the Role of Probability and Causation in Evolution,” Philosophy of Science 79 (No. 5, 2012).
  • “Measured, Modeled, and Causal Conceptions of Fitness,” Frontiers in Genetics 3 (No. 196, October 2012).
  • “Mechanistic Social Probability: How Individual Choices and Varying Circumstances Produce Stable Social Patterns,” in Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science, Harold Kincaid, ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • “Mechanistic Probability,” Synthese 187 (No. 2, July 2012).
  • Yann C. Klimentidis, Marshall Abrams, Jelai Wang, Jose R. Fernandez, David B. Allison, “Natural Selection at Genomic Regions Associated with Obesity and Type-2 Diabetes: East Asians and Sub-Saharan Africans Exhibit High Levels of Differentiation at Type-2 Diabetes Regions,” Human Genetics 129 (No. 4, 2011).
  • “Fitness ‘Kinematics’: Biological Function, Altruism, and Organism-Environment Development,” Biology and Philosophy 24 (No. 4), September 2009.
  • American Philosophical Association
  • Philosophy of Science Association
  • International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology
  • Society for Exact Philosophy
  • Human Behavior and Evolution Society
  • Evolutionary Anthropology Society
  • Society for Anthropological Sciences
  • American Anthropological Association