Robert Batterman

University of Pittsburgh

1001 Cathedral of Learning

Pittsburgh, PA 15260 / 412-624-5775


I received my PhD from the University of Michigan in 1987. My advisor was Lawrence Sklar. I am now distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. I am, thankfully, no longer department chair. Prior to my arrival in Pittsburgh, I was the Rotman Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Science at the University of Western Ontario (2005--2010). Before that I spent 15 years in the Department of Philosophy at Ohio State University. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. I'm the author of The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction, and Emergence (Oxford, 2002) and A Middle Way: A Non-Fundamental Approach to Many-Body Physics (Oxford, 2021). I edited The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics (2013). I work in the philosophy of physics and philosophy of applied mathematics with a focus primarily upon the area of condensed matter broadly construed. My research interests include include the foundations of statistical physics, materials science, dynamical systems and chaos, asymptotic reasoning, mathematical idealizations, explanation, reduction, and emergence.

I recently won the 2021 Provost's Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring.

My CV is here.


Current research examines a topic that straddles the border between philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science. This topic concerns the role of mathematics in the formation and application of physical theories.

Recent Publications

Multiscale Modeling in Inactive and Active Materials in Levels of Organization in the Biological Sciences, Eds. Daniel S. Brooks, James DiFrisco, and William C. Wimsatt (MIT Press) 2021. Available Here

Making Sense of Top-Down Causation: Universality and Functional Equivalence in Physics and Biology (with Sara Green) in Top-Down Causation and Emergence, Eds. J. Voosholz and M. Gabriel (Springer) 2021.

A Middle Way: A Non-Fundamental Approach to Many-Body Physics (Oxford) 2021. Link

Steel and Bone: Mesoscale Modeling and Middle-out Strategies in Physics and Biology, (with Sara Green) Synthese, Available Here (Published online July 9, 2020).

Universality and RG Explanations, Perspectives on Science, Vol. 27, No. 1 pp. 26-47, 2019. Journal

Biology Meets Physics: Reductionism and Multi-scale Modeling of Morphogenesis (with Sara Green), Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Preprint / Journal.

Autonomy of Theories: An Explanatory Problem, Nous. Preprint / Journal.

Philosophical Implications of Kadanoff's Work on the Renormalization Group, Journal of Statistical Physics. Preprint / journal.

Recent Talks

Mesoscale Models and Many-Body Physics

  • Statistical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics: Reconsidering Their Foundations in the Light of New Cutting Edge Experiments and Theoretical Models, Gran Sasso Science Institute, L'Aquila Italy (September, 2021)

Emergence and Universality

  • Emergence: Conceptual and Philosophical Aspects, DIEP Workshop, Amsterdam (May, 2019)

Multi-scale Modeling in Inactive and Active Materials

  • Hierarchy and Levels of Organization Workshop, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Vienna (March, 2018)

Universality, Stability, Autonomy, and Scales: Explanatory Lessons from Condensed Matter Physics

  • Center For Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh (September, 2017)
  • Unifying the Debates: Mathematical and Non-causal Explanations, IHPST, Paris (June, 2017)
  • Perspectives on Explanation Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague (May 2017)

As Common as Dirt: Scientific Idealizations of Everyday Stuff, Bryn Mawr College, March, 2017

Emergence, Autonomy, Multiscale Modeling

  • Philosophy of Science Association Meeting, Atlanta (2016)
  • ICAM Symposium on Emergence, University of Michigan (2015)

Multiscale Modeling in Developmental Biology and Physics: Lessons Across Disciplines

  • International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, Montreal (2015)

Asymptotics, Minimal Models, Multiscale Techniques

  • Emergence in Materials Workshop, IHPST, Paris (2015)
  • ACMES/SONAD Workshop, University of Western Ontario (2015)

Quinn and Devi

Current Courses

Introduction to Logic (PHIL 0500). Fall 2022.

Introduction to Philosophy of Physics (PHIL 1612). Fall 2022.

Current Graduate Students

Travis McKenna

  • Philosophy of Science, Applied Mathematics, Multi-scale Modeling

Past Graduate Students

Annika Froese Currently part of the research division at Germany's Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management

  • Philosophy of Social Sciences, Causal Inference

Kathleen A. Creel

  • Philosophy of Science, Epistemological and Methodological Issues in Computation

Marina Baldissera Pacchetti

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Climate Science

Michael Miller

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics

Julia Bursten

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Chemistry

Leif Hancox-Li

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics

Meghan Page

  • Philosophy of Science, History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Religion and Environmental Ethics

Nicolas Fillion

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mathematics

Robert Moir

  • Mathematics and Philosophy

Alex Manufu

  • Philosophy of Science, Metaphysics

James Overton

  • Philosophy of Science

Nicholaos Jones

  • Philosophy of Science, Asian Philosophy

Jeffrey Koperski

  • Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Religion

Devi, The Devil Drooling Dog

Max, The Shadow Dog