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An interview with William Wimsatt


wimsattNews Office writer Josh Schonwald recently interviewed William Wimsatt, the Peter B. Ritzma Professor in Philosophy and Evolutionary Biology, to discuss his philosophy, his current work, and why he believes his “philosophy for limited beings” is valuable not only for philosophers and physical, biological and social scientists, but also students in the College.

Click the links below the video to see the full interview.

Clip 1: In “Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings,” you often write about the importance of heuristics — seat-of-your-pants heuristics. Tell us how such heuristics can be useful to scientists and engineers.

Clip 2: You are a philosopher, and the obvious audience for this book are your peers. Tell us why you think that this book is valuable to readers from other disciplines.

Clip 3: The book’s first chapter is titled “Myths of LaPlacean Omniscience.” What is wrong with having a god’s eye view of the world?

Clip 4: In chapter 7, you write about generative entrenchment, one of your current research interests. Tell us about generative entrenchment and why you’re increasingly focusing on it.

Clip 5: How did you come to study scientific diagrams?

Clip 6: What is the “philosophy of biology”?

Clip 7: You’re the creator of the “Big Problems” program in the College. Why did you create “Big Problems” and what is the program’s current focus?

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