Mark Wilson


1017-D Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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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).

Oxford has just published a book of essays entitled Physics Avoidance and other Essays in Conceptual Strategy, (2017).  It consists in a collection of independently readable essays touching upon various aspects of wise strategy in scientific
investigation. The essays included are:


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 Scales
6. Believers in the Land of Glory           
7. Is There Life in Possible Worlds?
8. Semantic Mimicry                                            
9.  A Second Pilgrim’s Progress 

Close to final versions of these essays appear in the appropriate subsections.                                                          

My previous book is Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior (Oxford University Press, 2006).


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