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. “Teleology.” In Handbook of Metaphysics, edited by et al Burkhardt, 391–93. Munich, Germany: Philosophia Verlag, 1991.

Rosenberg, A. “The Biological Justification of Ethics: A Best Case Scenario (Reprint).” In Ethics, Politics and Human Nature, edited by Miller Paul and Miller Rowe, 86–101, 1991.

Rosenberg, A. “Is There an Evolutionary Biology of Play?” In Interpretation and Explanation in the Study of Annual Behavior, edited by M. Bekoff and M. Jameson, 180–96. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990.

Rosenberg, A. “Fitness, Reinforcement and Underlying Mechanisms (reprint).” In The Selection of Behavior, edited by C. Catania and S. Harnad, 57–59. Oxford University Press, 1990.

Rosenberg, A. “A quoi bon la theorie de l’equilibre general?”.” In La Methodologie de L’economie Theorique et Applique Aujourd’hui, edited by J. Wolff and et al, 170–87. Paris Nathan, 1990.

Rosenberg, A. “From Reductionism to Instrumentalism.” In What Philosophy of Biology Is, 245–62. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1989.

Rosenberg, A. “Are Generic Predictions Enough (reprint).” In Philosophy and Economics II, edited by B. Hamminga, 43–68. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1989.

Rosenberg, A. “The Political Philosophy of Biological Endowments: Some Considerations (Reprint).” In Equal Opportunity, edited by Miller Paul and Miller Ahrens, 1–31. Oxford: Blackwell, 1987.

Rosenberg, A. “Autonomy and Provincialism (Reprint).” In Holisme En Reductionisme En de Empirishe Wetenschappen, edited by Greetvan Geinert, 10–21. Groningen, Studium Generale, 1987.

Rosenberg, A. “Darwinism Today–Tomorrow, But Not Yesterday.” In PSA 1984, edited by P. Kitcher and P. Asquith, 2:157–73. East Lansing, MI: Philosophy of Science Association, 1985.


Rosenberg, A., and Carl Hoefer. “Empirical Equivalence, Underdetermination and Systems of the World.” Philosophy of Science 61 (1994): 592–607.

Rosenberg, A. “Scientific innovation and the limits of social scientific prediction.” Synthese 97, no. 2 (November 1, 1993): 161–81. Full Text

ROSENBERG, A. “Genie Selection, Molecular Biology and Biological Instrumentalism.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 18, no. 1 (January 1, 1993): 343–62. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “Powers and Limits of Agricultural Economics.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 75 (1993): 15–24.

Rosenberg, A. “Genic Selection and Biological Instrumentalism.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy XVIII (1993): 343–62.

Rosenberg, A. “Scientific Innovation and the Limits of Social Scientific Prediction.” Synthese 97 (1993): 1–21.

Rosenberg, A. “"Hausman, Inexact and Separate Science of Economics,” Critical Notice.” Journal of Philosophy 90 (1993): 533–37.

Rosenberg, A. “Selection and Science: Critical notice of David Hull's Science as a Process.” Biology and Philosophy 7, no. 2 (April 1, 1992): 217–28. Full Text

Rosenberg, Alexander. “Contractarianism and the "trolley" problem.Journal of Social Philosophy 23, no. 3 (January 1992): 88–104. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “Causation, Probability and the Monarchy.” American Philosophical Quarterly 29 (1992): 305–18.