University of Pittsburgh
Primary Faculty

Kenneth F. Schaffner

Distinguished University Professor of History and Philosophy of Science; also University Professor of Philosophy, Psychology, and Professor of Psychiatry (secondary)


1017H CL
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Before returning to Pittsburgh, Schaffner was University Professor of Medical Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at the George Washington University. His most recent book, Discovery and Explanation in Biology and Medicine, was published in 1993 by the University of Chicago Press. Schaffner has been a Guggenheim Fellow and has published extensively in philosophical and medical journals on ethical and conceptual issues in science and medicine. He is a member of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)-World Health Organization (WHO) Workgroup on Classification and on International Diagnostic Systems, where the task is to advise on the approach and content of the Mental Health Section of the eleventh version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), due out in 2013. He was editor-in-chief of Philosophy of Science from 1975 to 1980, and was section editor for psychiatry for the current 3rd edition of The Encyclopedia of Bioethics. His recent work has been on philosophical issues in human behavioral and psychiatric genetics, and he is in the final editing stages of a book, Behaving: What’s Genetic and What’s Not, and Why Should We Care? for Oxford University Press.


PhD, Columbia University, 1967

MD, University of Pittsburgh, 1986

Recent Courses Taught

The Gene: The Transformation and Fragmentation of a Concept

Historical and Philosophical Issues in Behavioral Genetics

Philosophy of Psychiatry (co-taught with Peter Machamer)

Selected Publications

Schaffner, K. F. “Ernest Nagel and Reduction,” Journal of Philosophy, 2012, CIX, Nos. 8/9, pp. 534-565.

Schaffner, K.F and Tabb, K. C., "Varieties of Social Constructionism and the Problem of Progress in Psychiatry," in K. S. Kendler and J. Parnas (eds.), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry III, Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. 83-115.

Schaffner, K.F and Tabb, K. C., "Hempel as a Critic of Bridgeman’s Operationalism: Lessons for Psychiatry from the History of Science,” in K. S. Kendler and J. Parnas (eds.), Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry III, Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. 213-220.

Schaffner, K.F. (2015) “Neuroethics” in Scientism: The New Orthodoxy. Edited by Richard N. Williams and Daniel N. Robinson. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Pp. 147-176.

K. F. Schaffner, Behaving: What's Genetic and What's Not, and Why Should We Care?, a book MS, has been accepted and is now in the publication process with Oxford University Press, with a scheduled publication date in late summer or early fall 2015.

Nineteenth Century Aether Theories, Oxford, Pergamon Press. (part historical commentary and analysis (~ 150 pages) and part selective reprints (~150 pages). (1972)

Logic of Discovery and Diagnosis in Medicine (editor), Berkeley: University of California Press (1985).

Discovery and Explanation in Biology and Medicine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1993).

"Approaches to Reduction," Philosophy of Science, 34, 137-147 (1967).

“Logic of Discovery and Justification in Regulatory Genetics,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 4, 397-433 (1973).

"Theory Structure in the Biomedical Sciences," The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 5, 57-95 (1980).

“Genes, Behavior, and Developmental Emergentism: One Process, Indivisible?," Philosophy of Science, 65, 209-252; reply to comments: 276-288 (1998).

"Reduction: the Cheshire cat problem and a return to roots," Synthese, 151, 377-402 (2006).

Professional Fellowships and Honors

Guggenheim Post Doctoral Fellowship, 1972

Institute for Human Values in Medicine Fellowship, 1977

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1986

Fellow, Hastings Center, 1991

Fellow, Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry, 1992