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Faculty & Research

Catherine Elgin

Professor of Education

Catherine Elgin

Degree:  Ph.D., Brandeis University, (1975)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Phone:  617.496.0504
Personal Site:   Link to Site
Vitae/CV:   Catherine Elgin.pdf
Office:  Larsen 404
Office Hours Contact:  Email the Faculty Member
Faculty Assistant:  Andrew Orland


Catherine Elgin is a philosopher whose areas of study include the theory of knowledge, philosophy of art, and philosophy of science. Recent work considers the question of what makes something cognitively valuable. Elgin has argued that the pursuit of understanding, rather than the pursuit of knowledge, should be the focus of epistemology's concerns. Her recent work explores how similar problems arise in diverse branches of philosophy such as aesthetics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.

Click here to see a full list of Catherine Elgin's courses.

Areas of Expertise

'Is Understanding Factive?' Epistemic value, ed. Duncan Pritchard, Alan Miller, and Adrian Haddock, Oxford University press, 322-330., (2007).

‘Understanding and the Facts,’ Philosophical Studies, 132, 33-42, (2007).

‘The Fusion of Fact and Value,’ Iride, 20, 83-101 (in Italian), (2007).

‘Die kognitiven Funktion der Fiktion,’ Kunst Denken, ed. Alex Burri & Wolfgang Huemer, Paderborn: Mentis, 77-90., (2007).

‘From Knowledge to Understanding,’ Epistemology Futures ed. Stephen Hetherington, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 199-215, (2006).

‘The Laboratory of the Mind,’ Kreativität: XX Deutscher Kongress für Philosophie, Kolloquiumsbeiträge, ed. Günter Abel, Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, 772-784; A Sense of the World: Essays on Fiction, Narrative, and Knowledge, ed. Wolfgang Huemer, John Gibson, and Luca Pocci. London, Routledge, pp. 43-54, (2006).

‘Non-Foundationalist Epistemology: Holism, Tenability and Coherence,’ Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, ed. Matthias Steup and Ernest Sosa. Boston: Blackwell, pp. 156-167, (2005).

‘Changing Core Values,’ Newsletter for the Study of East Asian Civilizations, September, 20-28, (2005).

‘Pragmatism, Historicism, and/or Reflective Equilibrium’, Proceedings of the Philosophy of Education Society, 57-59, (2005).

‘High Stakes,’ Theory and Research in Education, 2, 271-281, (2004).

‘Denying a Dualism: Goodman’s Repudiation of the Analytic/Synthetic Distinction,’ Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 28, 226-238, (2004).

‘True Enough,’ Philosophical Issues 14, 113-131, (2004).

‘Optional Stops, Foregone Conclusions, and the Value of Argument,’ Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 , 317-329, (2004).

‘Esempli Parlanti’, Prometeo vol. 21 no. 82, 14-29, (2003).

‘Erkenntnistheoretisches Gleichgewicht,’ Wissen zwischen Entdeckung und Konstruktion. Erkenntnis-theoretische Kontroversen, Matthias Vogel and Lutz Wingert, editors. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, pp. 193-217, (2003).

‘Take It From Me: The Epistemological Status of Testimony,’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LXV, 291-308, (2002).

‘Art in the Advancement of Understanding,’ American Philosophical Quarterly, 39, 1-12; Wissensformen in denSozial- und Kulturwissenschaften, forthcoming in German, (2002).

‘Creation as Reconfiguration,’ International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16, 13-25, (2002).

‘Word Giving, Word Taking,’ Fact and Value: Essays for Judith Jarvis Thomson, ed. Alex Byrne, Robert Stalnaker, and Ralph Wedgwood, Cambridge: MIT Press, 97-116; Truth: A Dialogue Between Philosophical Traditions, edited by Jose Medina and David Wood, Oxford: Blackwell, 2005, pp. 271-287, (2001).

‘Originals, Copies, and Fakes,’ Proceedings of the Gesselschaft für Analytische Philosophie, Mentis, 339-355, (2001).

‘The Legacy of Nelson Goodman’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62, 679-690, (2001).

‘What’s the Use?’ The Hedgehog Review, vol. 3 no. 3, 9-25, (2001).

‘Reconceiving Cognition, Reorienting Aesthetics,’ Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 58, 219-225, (2000).

‘Worldmaker: Nelson Goodman,’ Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 31, 1-18, (2000).

‘Interpretation und Verstehen,’ Wirklichkeit und Welterzeugung ed. Hans Rudi Fischer and Siegfried Schmidt, Carl AuerSysteme Verlag, 364-372, (2000).

‘Interpretation and Understanding,’ Erkenntnis, 52, 175-183, (2000).

‘Education and the Advancement of Understanding,’ Proceedings of the 20th World Congress of Philosophy, Volume 3., ed. David M. Steiner, Philosophy Documentation Center, pp. 131-140; Philosophy of Education, ed. Randall Curren, Malden: Blackwell, 2007, 417-422, (1999).

‘Epistemology’s Ends, Pedagogy’s Prospects,’ Facta Philosophica, 1, 39-54, (1999).

‘The Power of Parsimony,’ Philosophia Scientiae, 2, 89-104; reprinted in Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 45, 487-499 (in German), (1997).

Between the Absolute and the Arbitrary, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, (1997).

‘Metaphor and Reference,’ From a Metaphorical Point of View, Zdravko Radman, ed., (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter), 53-72, (1996).

‘Icon and Index Revisited,’ Peirce's Doctrine of Signs: Theory, Applications and Connections, Vincent Colepietro andThomas Olshewsky, eds., (Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1996), 181-189, (1996).

‘Line Drawing,’ Dialektik, 3, 81-93, (1996).

Considered Judgment, Princeton: Princeton University Press, (1996).

‘Unnatural Science,’ The Journal of Philosophy, 92, 289-302, (1995).

‘Restoration and Work Identity,’ Representation: Relationship Between Language and Image, S. Levialdi and C. Bernardelli, eds., (Singapore: World Scientific), 101-107, (1994).

‘Outstanding Problems: Replies to our ZiF Critics,’ Synthese, 95, 129-140, (1993).

‘Scheffler's Symbols,’ Synthese, 94, 3-12, (1993).

‘Relocating Aesthetics: Goodman's Epistemological Turn,’ Revue Internationale de Philosophie, 2-3, 171-186, (1993).

‘Fiction's Functions,’ Les Cahiers du Musée National d'Art Moderne, 41, 33-44, (in French), (1993).

‘Sign, Symbol, and System,’ Journal of Aesthetic Education 25, 11-21, (1991).

‘What Goodman Leaves Out,’ Journal of Aesthetic Education, 25, 89-96, (1991).

‘Understanding: Art and Science,’ Philosophy and the Arts, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Peter A. French, Theodore E.Uehling, Jr., and Howard Wettstein, eds., (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press), 196-208; reprinted in Synthese, 95 (1993), 13-28; in Lire Goodman, J. Cometti, ed., (Combas: Editions d'Eclat, 1992), 49-67 (in French), (1991).

‘Facts That Don't Matter,’ Meaning and Method: Essays in Honor of Hilary Putnam, George Boolos, ed., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 17-30, (1990).

Esthétique et Connaissance: Pour changer de Sujet (with Nelson Goodman), Combas: Editions de l'Eclat, in French, (1990).

‘On Knowing and Making,’ (with Nelson Goodman), Encyclopedie Philosophique Universelle, vol. I: L'Univers Philosophique, Paris: Presses Universitaire de France, 520-528, (in French), (1989).

‘The Relativity of Fact and the Objectivity of Value,’ Relativism: Interpretation and Confrontation, Michael Krausz, ed.,(Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press), 86-98; reprinted in Harvard Review of Philosophy, VI (1999) 4-15; Analytic Philosophy, ed. Jordan Lindberg, Mountain View, California: Mayfield, 2001, 390-398, (1989).

‘The Epistemic Efficacy of Stupidity,’ Synthese, 74, 297-311; reprinted in Theoria (Yugoslavia), 34 (1) (1992),115-124 (in Yugo/Serbo Croatian), (1988).

Reconceptions (with Nelson Goodman), Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.; London: Routledge; Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1989, in German; Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1994, in French; Tokyo: Misuzo Shobo, 2002, in Japanese, (1988).

‘The Cost of Correspondence,’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 47, 475-480, (1987).

‘Mainsprings of Metaphor,’ (with Israel Scheffler), The Journal of Philosophy, 84, 331-335, (1987).

‘Changing the Subject,’ (with Nelson Goodman), The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 46 (1987), 219-223;reprinted in Analytic Aesthetics, Richard Shusterman, ed., (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 190-196; and inEstetyka w swiecie, ed. Maria Golaszewska (in Polish).

‘Interpretation and Identity,’ (with Nelson Goodman), Critical Inquiry, 12, 564-574, (1986).

‘Translucent Belief,’ The Journal of Philosophy, 82, 74-91, (1985).

‘Kinds, Natural or Not?’ Kos I, 8, 109-111, (in Italian), (1984).

‘Projectibility,’ Kos I, 3, 115-118, (in Italian), (1984).

‘Representation, Comprehension, and Competence,’ Social Research 51, 905-925; reprinted in Varieties of Thinking, Vernon Howard, ed., (New York: Routledge, 1990), 62-75, (1984).

‘Goodman's Rigorous Relativism,’ The Journal of Thought, vol. 19, no. 4, 36-45, (1984).

‘Theory Reduction: A Question of Fact or a Question of Value?’ Physical Sciences and the History of Physics, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 87, Robert Cohen and Marx Wartofsky, eds., (Dordrecht: D. Reidel), 75-92, (1983).

With Reference to Reference, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co, (1983).

‘Lawlikeness and the End of Science,’ Philosophy of Science 47, 56-68, (1980).

‘Indeterminacy, Underdetermination, and the Anomalism of the Mental,’ Synthese 45, 233-255, (1980).

‘Quine's Double Standard: Indeterminacy and Quantifying In,’ Synthese 42, 353-377, (1979).

‘The Impossibility of Saying What is Shown,’ The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 16, 617-627, (1978).

‘Reference, Analysis, and the Tractarian Conception of Semantics,’ (with Jonathan E. Adler), Wittgenstein and His Impact on Contemporary Thought, Werner Leinfellner et al., eds., (Vienna: Holder-Pichler-Tempsky),133-138, (1978).

‘Wittgenstein, Sellars, and Conceptual Change,’ (with Richard Burian), Wittgenstein and His Impact on Contemporary Thought, Werner Leinfellner et al., eds., (Vienna: Holder-Pichler- Tempsky), 221-225, (1978).

‘Analysis and the Picture Theory in the Tractatus,’ Philosophy Research Archives II, no. 1116, (1976).


Advisory Board, American Philosophical Association Committee on the Philosophy of Education

Advisory Board, Harvard Center for Ethics and the Professions

American Philosophical Association

Editorial Board, American Philosophical Quarterly

Editorial Board, International Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Editorial Board, Theory and Research in Education

Philosophy of Education Society

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