Robert Batterman

University of Pittsburgh

1001 Cathedral of Learning

Pittsburgh, PA 15260 / 412-624-5775


I received my PhD from the University of Michigan in 1987. My advisor was Lawrence Sklar. I am now distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. I have, thankfully, just ended a four year term as department chair. Prior to my arrival in Pittsburgh, I was the Rotman Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Science at the University of Western Ontario (2005--2010). Before that I spent 15 years in the Department of Philosophy at Ohio State University. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. I'm the author of The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence (Oxford, 2002). I edited The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics (2013). I work in the philosophy of physics and philosophy of applied mathematics with a focus primarily upon the area of condensed matter broadly construed. My research interests include include the foundations of statistical physics, materials science, dynamical systems and chaos, asymptotic reasoning, mathematical idealizations, explanation, reduction, and emergence. My CV is here.


Current research examines a topic that straddles the border between philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science. This topic concerns the role of mathematics in the formation and application of physical theories.

Recent Publications

Universality and RG Explanations, Perspectives on Science, Vol. 27, No. 1 pp. 26-47, 2019. Journal

Biology Meets Physics: Reductionism and Multi-scale Modeling of Morphogenesis (with Sara Green), Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Preprint / Journal.

Autonomy of Theories: An Explanatory Problem, Nous. Preprint / Journal.

Philosophical Implications of Kadanoff's Work on the Renormalization Group, Journal of Statistical Physics. Preprint / journal.

Recent Talks

Emergence and Universality

  • Emergence: Conceptual and Philosophical Aspects, DIEP Workshop, Amsterdam (May, 2019)

Multi-scale Modeling in Inactive and Active Materials

  • Hierarchy and Levels of Organization Workshop, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Vienna (March, 2018)

Universality, Stability, Autonomy, and Scales: Explanatory Lessons from Condensed Matter Physics

  • Center For Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh (September, 2017)
  • Unifying the Debates: Mathematical and Non-causal Explanations, IHPST, Paris (June, 2017)
  • Perspectives on Explanation Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague (May 2017)

As Common as Dirt: Scientific Idealizations of Everyday Stuff, Bryn Mawr College, March, 2017

Emergence, Autonomy, Multiscale Modeling

  • Philosophy of Science Association Meeting, Atlanta (2016)
  • ICAM Symposium on Emergence, University of Michigan (2015)

Multiscale Modeling in Developmental Biology and Physics: Lessons Across Disciplines

  • International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, Montreal (2015)

Asymptotics, Minimal Models, Multiscale Techniques

  • Emergence in Materials Workshop, IHPST, Paris (2015)
  • ACMES/SONAD Workshop, University of Western Ontario (2015)

Current Courses

I am currently on sabbatical leave.

Current Graduate Students

Kathleen A. Creel

  • Philosophy of Science, Epistemological and Methodological Issues in Computation

Annika Froese

  • Philosophy of Social Science Science, Causal Inference

Past Graduate Students

Marina Baldissera Pacchetti

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Climate Science

Michael Miller

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics

Julia Bursten

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Chemistry

Leif Hancox-Li

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics

Meghan Page

  • Philosophy of Science, History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Religion and Environmental Ethics

Nicolas Fillion

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mathematics

Robert Moir

  • Mathematics and Philosophy

Alex Manufu

  • Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics

James Overton

  • Philosophy of Science

Nicholaos Jones

  • Philosophy of Science, Asian Philosophy

Jeffrey Koperski

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Religion

Devi, The Devil Drooling Dog

Max, The Shadow Dog