Alexander Rosenberg

Alexander Rosenberg

R. Taylor Cole Distinguished Professor of Philosophy

Contact Information
203A W Duke Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Duke Box 90743, Durham, NC 27708-0743
(919) 660-3047


Alex Rosenberg (Ph.D. 1971, Johns Hopkins) joined the Duke faculty in 2000. He is the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy (with secondary appointments in the biology and political science departments). Rosenberg has been a visiting professor and fellow of the at the Center for the Philosophy of Science, University of Minnesota, as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Oxford University and a visiting fellow of the Philosophy Department at the Research School of Social Science, of the Australian National University. In 2016 he was the Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor at the University of Bristol. Rosenberg has held fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. In 1993 Rosenberg received the Lakatos Award in the philosophy of science. In 2006-2007 he held a fellowship at the National Humanities Center. He was also the Phi Beta Kappa-Romanell Lecturer for 2006-2007.

Rosenberg is the author of:

Microeconomic Laws: A Philosophical Analysis
(University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976),
Sociobiology and the Preemption of Social Science/ (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980; Basil Blackwell, 1981),
Hume and the Problem of Causation (Oxford University Press, 1981) (with T.L. Beauchamp),
The Structure of Biological Science (Cambridge University Press, 1985),
Philosophy of Social Science (Clarendon Press, Oxford and Westview Press, 1988, Second Edition, Revised, Enlarged, 1995, Third Edition, 2007, Fourth Edition, 2010, fifth edition, 2015
Economics: Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns? (University of Chicago Press, 1992),
Instrumental Biology, or the Disunity of Science (University of Chicago Press, 1994),
Darwinism in Philosophy, Social Science and Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2000),
Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Approach (Routledge, 2000, second edition 2005),
Darwinian Reductionism or How to Stop Worrying and Love Molecular Biology (University of Chicago Press, 2006),
The Philosophy of Biology: A Contemporary Introduction (with Daniel McShea, Routledge, 2007)
The Atheist's Guide to Reality (W.W. Norton, 2011)
and two novels, The Girl from Krakow, and Autumn in Oxford.

He has also written approximately 200 papers in the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of cognitive, behavioral and social science (especially economics), and causation.

Rosenberg is also co-director of Duke's Center for the Philosophy of Biology .

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University 1971

  • B.A., City College of New York 1967

Rosenberg, A. “Reductionism in a historical science.” In Promises and Limits of Reductionism in the Biomedical Sciences, edited by David Hull and Marc Van Regenmortel, 125–55. John Wiley, 2002.

Rosenberg, A., and Frederic Bouchard. “Fitness.” In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002.

Rosenberg, A. “Philosophy of molecular biology.” In Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. London: McMillan, 2001.

Rosenberg, A. “Limits to Biology.” In Science at Century’s End, edited by M. Carrier, L. Ruetsche, and G. Massey, 247–65. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.

Rosenberg, A. “Privacy as a Matter of Taste and Right (Reprint).” In The Right to Privacy, edited by Miller Paul, 68–91. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Rosenberg, A. “The Character Concept in Taxonomy, Evolution, and Development.” In The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology, edited by G. Wagner, 199–214. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000.

Rosenberg, A. “The problem of enforcement: Is there an alternative to Leviathan.” In Evolutionary Origins of Morality, edited by Leonard Katz, 236–39. Thorverton, UK: Imprint Academic, 2000.

Rosenberg, A. “Philosophy of Social Science.” In A Companion to the Philosophy of Science, edited by W. Newton-Smith, 451–60. London: Blackwell, 2000.

Rosenberg, A. “Laws, History and the Nature of Scientific Understanding.” In Evolutionary Biology, edited by MacIntyre Hecht and MacIntyre Clegg, 32:51–71. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2000.

Rosenberg, A. “Folk Psychology.” In Handbook of Economic Methodology, edited by J. B. Davis. Aldershot, UK: Elgar, 1998.


Rosenberg, A., and Stefan Linquist. “On the original contract: evolutionary game theory and human evolution.” Analyze Und Kritik 27 (2005).

Brav, A., J. B. Heaton, and A. Rosenberg. “The rational-behavioral debate in financial economics.” Journal of Economic Methodology 11, no. 4 (December 1, 2004): 393–409. Full Text

Bouchard, F., and A. Rosenberg. “Fitness, probability and the principles of natural selection.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55, no. 4 (December 2004): 693–712. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “On the Priority of Intellectual Property Rights, Especially in Biotechnology.” Politics, Philosophy &Amp; Economics 3, no. 1 (January 1, 2004): 77–95. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “The Political Philosophy of Intellectual Property, with Applications in Biotechnology.” Politics, Philosophy and Economics 3, no. 1 (2004): 102–30.

Sommers, T., and A. Rosenberg. “Darwin's nihilistic idea: Evolution and the meaninglessness of life.” Biology and Philosophy 18, no. 5 (November 1, 2003): 653–68. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “The priority of intellectual property.” Fraser Forum, February 2003, Pp. 12 15 February (2003): 12–15.

Rosenberg, A. “On multiple realization and the special sciences.” Journal of Philosophy 98, no. 7 (July 2001): 365–73. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “Reductionism in a historical science.” Philosophy of Science 68, no. 2 (June 2001): 135–63. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “How is biological explanation possible?British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52, no. 4 (January 1, 2001): 735–60. Full Text