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University of Pittsburgh Libraries

Archives of Scientific Philosophy, Special Collections Department

Collection Profile

Philosophy has long been influenced by scientific research and studies, and its deliberations have frequently followed scientific models. The University of Pittsburgh established itself as a leader in scientific philosophy during the last decades of the 20th century. It was only natural, then, that the university acquire and build resources to support the faculty and students who were committed to scholarly investigations of intellectual currents. So in 1979, the University Library System (ULS) began to acquire traditional research materials, along the lines of personal papers, archives, microfilm, and books that, collectively, became known as the Archives of Scientific Philosophy.

The Rudolf Carnap Collection is perhaps the most widely known collection in the Archives of Scientific Philosophy. Born in 1891, Carnap held positions in Vienna and Prague where he developed the groundwork for his own logical empiricism and where he was an active participant in the Vienna Circle. After he came to the US in 1935, he taught at the University of Chicago and later at UCLA from 1954 until 1970. Carnap made significant contributions in the epistemological foundations of physics and mathematics, the syntactical structure of language, semantics, modal logic, and probability theory. His collection includes over 10,000 pages of letters, much of it with some of the most prominent scholars of his generation, and more than 2,000 books.

The papers of Wilfred Sellars, Carl Gustav Hempel, Frank Ramsey, Rose Rand, Hans Reichenbach, and Bruno de Finetti are also central to the growing body of original materials that comprise the Archives of Scientific Philosophy. Supplementing these resources are microfilm copies of the Ludwig Wittgenstein Collection, Herbert Feigl Collection, and the Archives for the History of Quantum Physics. In addition, the University of Pittsburgh has established a partnership with the University of Konstanz to share copies of key archival materials.

In the fall of 2000, the ULS was instrumental in the development of PhilSci Archive, an open access online archive for more current resources. PhilSci Archive primarily serves as an archive for preprints. It promotes communication in the field of philosophy of science through the quick dissemination of new studies. As the first electronic self-publishing initiative undertaken by the ULS, PhilSci Archive includes nearly 1,300 documents and has branched out to include out-of-print texts in the public domain that are deemed of central importance to the philosophy of science and are actively sought by today's scholars.

Researchers learn about the Archives of Scientific Philosophy through finding aids available through the Web site of the Special Collections Department. Researchers have used the collections for scholarly investigations associated with philosophy, history of science, literature, political science, history, sociology, economics, and educational theory. Their research has led to the publication of books, chapters in books, journal articles, papers delivered at professional meetings, and class papers. Indeed, a "Bibliography of Works Publishing or Citing Material from the Archives of Scientific Philosophy" presently includes over 260 citations, attesting to the strong interest that these materials are to the research community.

Collection Profile and Overview: Michael J. Dabrishus
Illustrations: James Burke

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