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::: center home >> about >> brief history

a brief history

In 1960, the University of Pittsburgh's academic vice chancellor, Charles H. Peake, appointed Adolf Grünbaum as Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy with the mandate to establish a first-class Center for Philosophy of Science. Taking Herbert Feigl's Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science as his model, Grünbaum, as founding director of the new Center, set about to develop a major philosophical research institute.

Grünbaum quickly put in place an annual lecture series--a forum for original work in the philosophy and history of science--together with a series of volumes growing out of these lectures. The inaugural edition of the Annual Lecture Series, which was supported by a grant from the United States Steel Educational Foundation, had an illustrious cast: Ernst Caspari, Paul K. Feyerabend (two lectures), Adolf Grünbaum, Carl G. Hempel, Ernest Nagel, Michael Scriven (two lectures), and Wilfrid Sellars. In 1961, Nicholas Rescher, who had just been recruited as professor of philosophy, was appointed the center's first associate director and joined Herbert Feigl, Paul Feyerabend, Norwood Russell Hanson, Philip Morrison, Hilary Putnam, and George Wald in making the presentations in the 1961-62 edition of the Annual Lecture Series.

Papers delivered in the inaugural version of the Annual Lecture Series were published in 1962 by the University of Pittsburgh Press as Frontiers of Science and Philosophy, the first volume of the University of Pittsburgh Series in the Philosophy of Science, under the editorship of Robert G. Colodny, with a publication subvention from the National Science Foundation. Between 1962 and 1978, five more volumes were published in this series, with a sixth added in 1986.

In 1965, Grünbaum organized a workshop-conference on scientific theories, thereby launching the center's tradition of sponsoring major conferences and workshops. Volume four of the University of Pittsburgh Series, The Nature and Function of Scientific Theories, emerged from this inaugural workshop-conference. A program to bring an occasional visiting research fellow to the center was also established by Grünbaum, but lack of funding kept this program small for many years.

Grünbaum served as director of the center until 1978 when he became the first chairman of the center, the position he occupies today. W. W. Bartley III, Laurens Laudan, and Kenneth Schaffner all served briefly as associate director to Grünbaum. In 1975, Allen Janis began his seventeen-year stint as associate director.

Laudan succeeded Grünbaum as director in 1978. Earlier, Laudan had played a key role in securing Rudolf Carnap's personal library and papers for the University of Pittsburgh, thereby making possible the creation of the Archives for Scientific Philosophy in the University's Hillman Library. Under Laudan's direction, the Visiting Fellows Program was substantially enlarged and various workshop-conferences conducted--developments made possible by substantial operating grants from the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 1977 and from the Richard King Mellon Foundation in 1980. In addition, the Archives for Scientific Philosophy were further enlarged by the acquisition of the papers of Hans Reichenbach.

When Laudan left the University of Pittsburgh in 1981, Rescher replaced him as director of the center. The aforementioned 1980 grant to the center, along with a substantial 1984 operating grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, enabled Rescher to expand the Visiting Fellows Program, the center's publications series, and sponsorship of conferences and workshops. In addition, the papers of Frank P. Ramsey were added to the Archives for Scientific Philosophy.

In 1986, Rescher established the Associates Program to help carry out the center's regional mission. In June of 1988, Rescher presided over the first meeting of what was to become a quadrennial series of international meetings of the center's fellowship, namely, a meeting in Oxford, England, for former visiting fellows of the center. In July of 1988, Rescher, who had been assisted by associate directors Allen Janis and Gerald Massey, resigned as director of the center and was appointed its first vice chairman.

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