Catherine Wilson
Position: Distinguished Professor
Program: Philosophy
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D., Princeton, B.Phil., Oxford, B.A., Yale
Research Interests: History and Philosophy of Science, Evolutionary Theory, Moral and Political Theory, Philosophy of Literature
Catherine Wilson is a leading figure in the field of the history and philosophy of science. Along with her contemporaries, Desmond Clarke, Francois Duchesneau, Daniel Garber, and Stephen Gaukroger, with whom she has often worked in close collaboration, she has played an influential role in the movement to reinterpret the central figures of early modern philosophy in terms of their contributions to and influence by the physical and life sciences of the 17th and 18th centuries. Her best-known books include Leibniz’s Metaphysics: A Historical and Comparative Study (1989), The Invisible World (1995), and Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity (2008).

Wilson received her B.Phil. from Oxford and her Ph.D. from Princeton, where she was supervised by George Pitcher. She has retained a deep interest in visuality and the imagination and has engaged with current approaches in the neurophilosophy, writing on the aesthetic appreciation of nature and on the psychological and perceptual mechanisms underlying aesthetic responsiveness to literary fictions as well as to the visual arts. As part of her commitment to naturalistic approaches to philosophical problems, she has also researched and taught courses on the theme of evolution and ethics and suggested new ways of understanding moral progress without commitment to moral realism, on analogy with pragmatist and empiricist accounts of scientific progress.

Wilson has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, among others. In addition to academic posts in the United States, Canada, and England, including the University of York where she holds a part-year professorial appointment, she served as Regius Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen from 2009 to 2012. She was also a Visiting Fellow at Trinity College Cambridge and in 2017 will take up a post as Visiting Fellow of All Souls College Oxford.