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, 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., The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Neuroscience, Oxford University Press, 2009, 166-176.

Jim Bogen and Peter Machamer, “Mechanistic Information and Causal Continuity” in Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson, eds., Causality in the Sciences, Oxford University Press, 2010, pps. 845-864.

Lisa Osbeck and Peter Machamer, “Action, Perception, and Reference” in A. Rafttopoulos and P. Machamer, eds. Perception, Realism, and Reference, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Stoyanov, Drozdstoj, Machamer, Peter K, and Schaffner, Kenneth F, (2012) “In Quest for Scientific Psychiatry: Towards Bridging the Explanatory Gap,” Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology (PPP)

“Reception and Influence of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius (and the fate of Galileo)” Galileo Galilei, The Starry Messenger, Daniel DeSimone, ed., Library of Congress Publications. 2013.

“Animals and Human Thoughts” Animals, Edited by Andreas Blank Series: Basic Philosophical Concepts, Munich: Philosophia, 2016 forthcoming


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

Edited Volumes

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.

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

with A. Rafttopoulos, Perception, Realism, and Reference, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Current Projects

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

"Explaining Mechanisms" (Draft posted on PhilSci-Archive; 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-Archive)

"A History and theory of the Emotions and Identity"

"Metaphor and Descriptions"