Robert Earl Butts was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1928 and died in 1997 in London, Ontario, Canada. After attending Manheim Township High School from 1943-1947, he earned his A.B. and A.M. in philosophy from Syracuse University in 1951 and 1952, respectively, and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957. He joined the philosophy department at the University of Western Ontario in 1963, where he would remain until his death. He also lectured at a number of prestigious institutions through fellowships and visiting appointments, including the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Philosophy of Science.
Butts was an active author and researcher in the field of history and philosophy of science and was deeply involved in his professional community, maintaining close personal and professional relationships with many prominent philosophers of his time. He edited and authored monographs on Whewell, Newton, Galileo, and Kant, as well as contributing prolifically to professional journals, anthologies, and encyclopedias. He served as editor-in-chief of
Philosophy of Science from 1980-1990, and was managing editor of the University of
Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science from 1979 until his death. He was chairman of the Canadian National Committee of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science from 1978 to 1991, and was an active member of many other professional organizations.