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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch


Wesley Charles Salmon was an American philosopher of science who made major contributions in many areas of the discipline. He was born in 1925 and died in 2001. His principal areas of inquiry and research included the concepts of scientific explanation, causality, and the logic of induction. Salmon was widely regarded as one of the most distinguished and productive philosophers of science of the twentieth century. He was educated at Wayne University and the University of Chicago, where he took an M.A. in 1947, and at the University of California at Los Angeles where he received a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1950. He studied under the supervision of Hans Reichenbach.

After taking his Ph.D., Salmon had a long and productive career within academia, holding positions at several major academic institutions. These include the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he was the Norwood Russell Hanson professor (1963-1973); the University of Arizona at Tucson (1973-1981); and the University of Pittsburgh from 1981 to 2001. At the University of Pittsburgh he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy from 1981 to 1983 and was University Professor from 1983 until he retired in 1999.

Salmon was the author of more than 100 professional articles. His introductory textbook Logic was a widely used standard for many decades. It went through many editions and was translated into several languages, including Chinese, French, German,Italian, Japanese and Spanish. He authored several works that stand as prominent landmarks of twentieth century philosophy of science. Among these are The Foundations of Scientific Inference (1967), and Statistical Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World (1984); equally significant are Four Decades of Scientific Explanation (1990) and Causality and Explanation (1998). He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as president of the Philosophy of Science Association (1971-1972) and of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association (1977 - 1978). He was also president of the UNESCO-sponsored International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (1998-1999).