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. “Philosophy of Science and the Potential for Knowledge in Social Sciences.” In Pluralisms and Subjectivities in Social Science, edited by D. Fiske and R. Schweder, 339–46. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Rosenberg, A. “Adaptionalist Imperatives and Panglossian Paradigms.” In Sociobiology and Epistemology, edited by J. M. Fetzer, 161–79. Dordrecht: Reidel, 1985.

Rosenberg, A. “Davidson’s Unintended Attack on Psychology.” In Actions and Events, edited by E. LePore, 399–407. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.

Rosenberg, A. “Prospects for the Elimination of Tastes in Economics and Ethics (Reprint).” In Ethics and Economics, edited by E. F. Paul, J. Paul, and F. D. Miller, 48–69. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.

Rosenberg, A. “The Supervenience of Biological Concepts (Reprint).” In Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology, edited by E. Sober, 99–116. Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books/MIT Press, 1984.

Rosenberg, A. “The Interanimation of Micro and Macroeconomics (Reprint).” In The Philosophy of Economics, edited by D. Hausman, 324–43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

Rosenberg, A. “Public Sector Monopolies.” In Productivity and Public Policy, edited by A. Holzer and A. Nagle, 219–33. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1984.

Rosenberg, A., and J. D. Straussman. “Maximization, Markets and the Measurement of Productivity in the Public Sector.” In New Directions in Public Administration, edited by J. D. Bozeman and J. D. Straussman, 280–87. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1984.

Rosenberg, A. “Human Science and Biological Science.” In Scientific Explanation and Understanding, edited by N. Rescher, 37–52. Lanham, MD: University Presses of America, 1983.

Rosenberg, A. “Causation and Teleology in Contemporary Philosophy of Science.” In Contemporary Philosophy, A New Survey, 2:51–86. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1982.


Rosenberg, A. “Contractarianism and the Trolley.” Journal of Social Philosophy, 23, 1992: 88 104 23 (1992): 88–104.

Rosenberg, A. “Adequacy criteria for a theory of fitness.” Biology and Philosophy 6, no. 1 (January 1, 1991): 38–41. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “The biological justification of ethics: A best-case scenario.” Social Philosophy and Policy 8, no. 1 (January 1, 1990): 86–101. Full Text

ROSENBERG, A. “Moral Realism and Social Science.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 15, no. 1 (January 1, 1990): 150–66. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “Normative Naturalism and the Role of Philosophy.” Philosophy of Science 57 (1990): 34–43.

Rosenberg, A. “Is lewis's 'genuine modal realism' magical too?Mind 98, no. 391 (July 1, 1989): 411–21. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “Are generic predictions enough?Erkenntnis 30, no. 1–2 (March 1, 1989): 43–68. Full Text

Rosenberg, A. “Russell vs. Steiner on Physics and Causality.” Philosophy of Science 56 (1989): 341–47.

Rosenberg, A. “Intensionality, intenSionality and Representation.” Behaviorism 17 (1989): 137–40.

Rosenberg, A. “Perceptual Presentations and Biological Functions: A Comment on Matthen.” Journal of Philosophy 86 (1989): 38–44.