Archives of Scientific Philosophy: The Wesley Charles Salmon Papers
363 Hillman Library
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Wesley Charles Salmon (1925 – 2001) was an American philosopher of science active in the last half of the Twentieth Century. While he made contributions to many areas of philosophy of science his principal areas of inquiry were causality, explanation in the sciences, the logic of induction, and philosophical aspects of Bayesian probability theory.
Salmon was educated as an undergraduate at Wayne University. He received an M.A. from the University of Chicago where he wrote a thesis entitled Alfred North Whitehead’s Conception of Freedom. In 1950 he received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Los Angeles where he studied under the supervision of Hans Reichenbach. His dissertation at UCLA was on John Venn’s Theory of Induction. The problems of induction would continue to interest him throughout his career.
Salmon taught at several major centers for the study of science; these included Indiana University at Bloomington, the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the University of Pittsburgh where he was Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy from 1981 to 1983 and University Professor from 1983 until he retired in 1999.
Wesley C. Salmon wrote many professional books and over 100 scholarly articles. His introductory textbook Logic was widely used for many decades and was translated in several languages including Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. He also wrote The Foundations of Scientific Inference (1967) Statistical Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World (1984) and Causality and Explanation (1984).