Mark Wilson


1009-G Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
F: 412-624-5377

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Mark Wilson is distinguished professor of philosophy, a fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science and a Fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Before coming to Pittsburgh, he taught at the University of California-San Diego, the University of Illinois-Chicago, and Ohio State. His main research investigates the manner in which physical and mathematical concerns become entangled with issues characteristic of metaphysics and philosophy of language; he is currently writing a book on explanatory structure. He is also interested in the historical dimensions of this interchange; in this vein, he has written on Descartes, Frege, Duhem, and Wittgenstein. He also supervises the North American Traditions Series for Rounder Records.

Select Publications

Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior (Oxford University Press, 2006). "Predicate Meets Property," The Philosophical Review, October 1982. "Can We Trust Logical Form?," Journal of Philosophy XCI, October, 1994. "The Unreasonable Uncooperativeness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," The Monist 2000. "Theory Facades," Proceedings of the Aristotlean Society, 2004. "Ghost Points: A Context for Frege's Context Principle" in Erich Reck and Michael Beaney (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Frege (Routledge: 2006).

I am currently completing a book project entitled Physics Avoidance and other Essays for Oxford University Press.  It consists in a collection of independently readable essays touching upon various ways in which the fates of philosophy and classical mechanics have become interwoven.  The planned essays are (updated Fall, 2016):

1. 1 Pragmatics' Place at the Table
2. Physics Avoidance
3. From the Bending of Beams to the Problem of Free Will                   
4. Two Cheers for Anti-Atomism
5. The Greediness of Scales6. Believers in the Land of Glory           
7. Is There Life in Possible Worlds?
8. Semantic Mimicry                                            
9.  A Second Pilgrim’s Progress  

Scattered through the various sections below are drafts of these chapters, generally in preliminary draft form.  Comments welcome. 

            My previous book is Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior (Oxford University Press, 2006).  Some excerpts, reviews and cognate material are included here:

Wandering Significance

The following are some of the articles I have published, divided roughly into categories.

Concepts and the Philosophy of Language

Philosophy of Science

Applied Mathematics

Historical Studies

Folk Music

Wandering Significance:

Link to Oxford University Press

Chapter one: Wide Screen

Background Considerations for Wandering Significance” (unpublished; written for a reading group)

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Formalism," Philosophy of Science Archive (2006).

Critical symposia:

Robert Brandom, "Platforms, Patchworks, and Parking Garages: Wilson's Account of Conceptual Structure in Wandering Significance," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1), 2011.

My response: “Of Whales and Pendulums: A Reply to Brandom,” ibid.

Michael Friedman, “Logic, Mathematical Science, and Twentieth Century Philosophy: Mark Wilson and the Analytic Tradition,” Nous 44(3), 2010.

My response: “What Can Contemporary Philosophy Learn from Our ‘Scientific Philosophy’ Heritage?” Nous 44(3), 2010.


Michael Liston, “Rabbits Astray and Significance Awandering,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1), 2011

Christopher Pincock, “Exploring the Boundaries of Conceptual Evaluation,” Philosophia Mathematica III (18) 2010.

Chris Daly, “Review,” Philosophical Quarterly 57 (228) 2007

Nikolay Milkov, “Review,” Pragmatics & Cognition 18(1) 2010