University of Pittsburgh
Primary Faculty

Peter K. Machamer

Professor and Director of Graduate Studies


1017 CL
Professor (Adj. Philosophy, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, The Cognitive Program in Psychology, Rhetoric of Science Program). Research Associate (Learning Research and Development Center). Machamer has edited a number of books, including Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Science (with Michael Silberstein), Motion and Time, Space and Matter, the Cambridge Companion to Galileo, and Studies in Perception. He has written many articles on topics in the history and philosophy of science. He works primarily on 16th- and 17th-century topics, especially Galileo, Descartes, and Hobbes, and in the philosophy of psychology and neuroscience, and social science, and on values and science. He also does empirical work in cognitive psychology.


PhD, University of Chicago, 1972

MA, BA, University of Cambridge, 1971 and 1966, respectively

BA, Columbia University, 1964

Selected Courses Taught

Explanations, Mechanisms, and Causality


Philosophy of Science and the Humanities

Selected/Recent Publications

Peter Machamer and J. E. McGuire, Descartes’ Changing Mind, Princeton University Press, 2009. (17th best selling philosophy book in 2009 according to

Editor, Cambridge Companion to Galileo, Cambridge University Press, 1998. “Introduction” in the Cambridge Companion to Galileo, 1-26. “Galileo, Mathematics and Mechanism” in the Cambridge Companion to Galileo, 53-79.

Editor with Michael Silberstein, Blackwell's Guide to Philosophy of Science, Basil Blackwell, 2002.

Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden, and Carl Craver, "Thinking About Mechanisms," Philosophy of Science, 67, March 2000, 1-25. (Most cited article in Philosophy of Science, 2003-2010.)

“Good Beer, or How Properly Dispute Taste” in Steven Hales, ed., Blackwell Guide to Beer and Philosophy, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2007, 52-63.

“Neuroscience, Learning, and the Return to Behaviorism” John Bickle, ed., Philosophy of Neuroscience, Oxford University Press, 2009, 166-176.  

Current Projects

"Thomas Hobbes: Monist, Materialist, and Mechanist: a uniquely coherent philosopher"

"Explaining Mechanisms" (Draft posted on PhilSci Archives; under revision)

"The Many Manners of Explaining Persons"

"Models as Models of Mechanisms"

"On interpretation: Evaluations and values in art and science" (70 pp. mss. in draft; another 100 pp. or so more to come)

"Leveling Reduction" with Jacqueline Sullivan, paper in draft (posted on PhilSci Archives)

A History and theory of the Emotions and Identity

Metaphor and Descriptions