[Philnet] Fwd: Wesley Salmon Obit

Scott Campbell scott.campbell@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Tue, 1 May 2001 18:00:11 +0100

Wesley C. Salmon in Memoriam

On Sunday, April 23, 2001, Wesley C. Salmon, University Professor Emeritus 
of Philosophy, and Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at 
the University of Pittsburgh, was killed, when his car was struck from the 
rear and turned over in a ditch en route to Pittsburgh. His wife, Merrilee 
Salmon, Professor Emerita of the History and Philosophy of Science, and of 
Anthropology, also at Pitt, was in the vehicle with him but survived 
uninjured. An eminent, internationally renowned philosopher of science, 
Wesley Salmon was a much beloved colleague, teacher, and friend, whose 
premature death is a grievous loss to the local, national, and 
international academic community.

Born in 1925, he took his doctorate at the University of California, Los 
Angeles, in 1950 under Hans Reichenbach, one of the towering figures of 
20th century philosophy of science, whose Collection is part of the 
Archives of Scientific Philosophy at the University’s Hillman Library. 
Having held prior appointments at several universities, Wesley Salmon 
served as Norwood Russell Hanson Professor in the Department of History and 
Philosophy of Science at Indiana University (Bloomington) for a decade 
(1963-1973). And after teaching as professor of philosophy at the 
University of Arizona (Tucson) from 1973-1981, he joined the Pitt faculty 
in 1981 as Professor and Chairman of Philosophy, professor of history and 
philosophy of science, as well as Resident Fellow in the Center for 
Philosophy of Science. From 1983 until his retirement in 1999, he held the 
rank of University Professor of Philosophy, filling the post in which Carl 
G. Hempel, a major figure in 20th century philosophy of science, had 
preceded him.

His visiting professorships include appointments at the Minnesota Center 
for Philosophy of Science at the University of Minnesota (1963 and Fall, 
1985), the University of Pittsburgh (1968-1969), the University of 
Melbourne, Australia (1978), and at the University of Konstanz, Germany 
(1995-1996). His last visiting appointment was in 2000 at the University of 
Kyoto in Japan, where Merrilee Salmon had a like appointment. Having given 
a series of four lectures in 1988 on “Four Decades of Scientific 
Explanation” at the University of Bologna in Italy, on the occasion of its 
900th Anniversary, Salmon acquired mastery of Italian in courses at Pitt 
and gave professional lectures in it at several universities in Italy. To 
honor the work of both Merrilee and Wesley Salmon, the Florentine Center 
for History and Philosophy of Science hosted a Workshop on “Experience, 
Reality, and Scientific Explanation” (May, 1996).

Wesley Salmon’s books and articles have ranged broadly over the theory of 
scientific explanation, causality, probability, scientific confirmation and 
induction, and the philosophy of physical science. After Hempel’s 
pioneering models of scientific explanation, which featured the 
expectability of phenomena, Salmon developed influential rival models 
abjuring expectability in favor of providing causally relevant factors. His 
well-known books include The Foundations of Scientific Inference (1967), 
Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World (1984), Four 
Decades of Scientific Explanation (1990), and Causality and Explanation 
(1998), a collection of essays spanning several decades. He was also the 
editor or co-editor of five volumes. Recently, he had completed a 
pedagogical book (with co-author Dennis Looney) on Italian science from 
Dante to Fermi, based on a truly unique interdisciplinary Pitt honors 
course that they had co-taught.

Salmon’s career was also distinguished by the high professional offices he 
held, the Fellowships in learned societies to which he was elected, and by 
an array of other academic recognitions. They include the presidency of the 
American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division, 1977-78); of the 
Philosophy of Science Association (1971-72); of the International Union of 
History and Philosophy of Science (1998-1999), and of its Division of 
Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (1996-99). He was a Fellow of 
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the American Association 
for the Advancement of Science.

Salmon’s contributions were recognized by two Festschrift books in his 
honor: The inaugural volume (1982) of the series Australasian Studies in 
the History and Philosophy of Science, entitled What? Where? When? Why?, 
Essays on Induction, Space and Time, Explanation (ed. by Robert 
McLaughlin), followed in 1988 by Probability and Causality: Essays in Honor 
of Wesley Salmon (ed. by James Fetzer). Besides earning a Humboldt 
Foundation Award for 1995-1996, he had received a Ford Foundation Faculty 
Fellowship (1953-54), a Creative Teaching Award from the University of 
Arizona (1977), and the President’s Distinguished Research Award from the 
University of Pittsburgh (1990), in addition to a number of Research Grants 
from The National Science Foundation.

His service to the profession was marked by membership of national and 
international committees, and of the editorial boards of a number of 
journals. Furthermore, he served on several major committees at Pitt.

Besides his wife Merrilee Salmon, he is survived by his daughter Victoria 
Salmon of Bloomington, Indiana, his stepdaughter Charlotte Broome of 
Pittsburgh, his stepson Bruce Ashby of Reston, Virginia, and five 
grandchildren. Burial is private, and the family requests that no flowers 
be sent. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Adolf Grünbaum
Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy of Science

Dr Scott Campbell,
Department of Philosophy,
University of Nottingham,
University Park, Nottingham,
NG7 2RD, U.K.

Institute for the Study of Genetics,
     Biorisks and Society (IGBiS),
University of Nottingham.

(44 + 115) 8466 964

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