Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Philosopher and historian of science Nancy Cartwright, professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics, will talk about “The Myth of Universalism: Theories of Science and Theories of Justice” in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 4:30 p.m. Her talk, sponsored by the Department of Philosophy at Amherst College and the Forry Fund in Philosophy and Science as part of a series on “Science and Value,” will be free and open to the public. A reception in Converse Hall will follow.
Cartwright studies the history and philosophy of science, especially physics and economics, causal inference and objectivity in science. In a interview with The Philosopher’s Magazine after the publication of her most recent book, The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science (1999), she said, “We have certain theories that are kind of ‘take-over’ theories: genetics, various kinds of quantum mechanics, the Darwinians’ approach to the social sciences, game theory in economics—people like take-over programmes because people tend to believe in unification, that there is going to be one theory that accounts for everything…These take-over theories get used when they ought not; they get funding when they ought not.”
Cartwright received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a thesis on “Philosophical Analysis of the Concept of Mixture in Quantum Mechanics.” She taught at the University of Maryland and Stanford University, and had visiting appointments at UCLA, Princeton, Pittsburgh, the California Institute of Technology and Oslo University. She also has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research at Bielefeld and the Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science. Cartwright has been a professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the LSE since 1991, director of the LSE Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science since 1993 and professor of philosophy at the University of California at San Diego since 1998.
Cartwright’s other works include How the Laws of Physics Lie (1983) and Nature’s Capacities and Their Measurement (1989.) Among many honors, Cartwright is a Fellow of the British Academy and a MacArthur Fellow.