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University of Bologna
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Maria Carla Galavotti

Maria Carla Galavotti




Present position

Full professor of Philosophy of Science, University of Bologna (since 1998).

Previous positions

Full Professor, University of Trieste (1994-1998).

Associate Professor, University of Bologna (1982-1994).

Researcher in Philosophy, University of Bologna (1975-1982)

Visiting positions

Visiting fellow, Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University (1984, 2 months; plus many short visits afterwards).

Visiting Fellow, Center for the Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh (full academic year 1989-90).

Visiting Fellow, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University (1991, 3 months).
Bologna-Clare Hall Visiting Fellow, affiliated to the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University (Lent term 1998).

Visiting Fellow, Centre for Time, University of Sydney (2004, 1 month).

Other academic positions

Life Member of the Center for the Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh (since 1990).

Life Member of Clare Hall College, Cambridge (since 1998).

Member of the Leopoldina Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften (since 2014).

Member of the Accademia Nazionale di Scienze, Lettere e Arti di Modena (since 2013).

Member of the scientific committee of the Centre "Federico Stella" for Criminal justice and policy (CSGP) of the Catholic University of Milan since its foundation in 2009.

Member of the editorial board of “Erkenntnis”, “European Journal for the Philosophy of Science”, and “Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook”.

Member of the Scientific Committee of the Vienna International Summer University (VISU) since its constitution (2002).

International cooperation partner of the PhD Programme "The Sciences in Historical, Philosophical and Cultural Contexts", University of Vienna.

Member of the Steering Committee of the European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA) from 2006 to 2011.

Director of CIRESS (Interdisciplinary Research Centre of History and Philosophy of Science; University of Bologna) from 2006 to 2011.

Coordinator of the European Science Foundation Network on “Historical and contemporary perspectives of the philosophy of science in Europe” (2000-2003).

Chair of the European Science Foundation Scientific Networking Programme “The Philosophy of Science in Europe” (2008-2013).

Member of the Executive Board of ICSU - International Council for Science (2011-2014).

1st vice-President of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science of the International Union for History and Philosophy of Science (2011-2015).

Research topics

My research moves along two main directions.

On the one hand, it focuses on the foundations of probability and statistics, with special emphasis on the philosophical aspects of probability and its interpretation. My book Philosophical Introduction to Probability explores the debate over the foundations of probability calling attention to the distinctive features of the major interpretations of probability, including the classical theory of P.S. de Laplace, frequentism, propensionism, logicism and subjectivism. I have devoted a number of writings to investigate the origins of the subjective theory with the work of Frank Ramsey and Bruno de Finetti. The collection of Frank Ramsey’s previously unpublished manuscripts which I edited under the title Notes on Philosophy, Probability and Mathematics (Naples: Bibliopolis, 1991) has been very well received. Recently, I have made an attempt at reconstructing a distinctive trend which I call the "European tradition in probabilistic epistemology" in the writings of a number of authors including Janina Hosiasson, Bruno de Finetti, Harold Jeffreys, Frank Ramsey and Hans Reichenbach.

On the other hand, my research addresses the nature and limits of scientific explanation, and its relationship with prediction and causation. Ever since the Hempelian “received view”, the debate on explanation has been constantly growing and presently covers a wide array of views on what “explaining” amounts to in different scientific disciplines. Such debate intertwines with that on probabilistic causality and the related issues of description, prediction and intervention; the nature and role of scientific laws; and the nature and possible uses of evidence in the sciences.


The list of my publications comprises over 160 titles, including articles in leading international peer-reviewed journals; various books and collections.

Among my publications:


Philosophical Introduction to Probability, Stanford: CSLI, 2005.

La spiegazione scientifica, Bologna: Archetipolibri, 2012, co-authored with Raffaella Campaner.

Probabilità, induzione, metodo statistico, Bologna: CLUEB, 1992.

Spiegazioni probabilistiche: un dibattito aperto, Bologna: CLUEB, 1984.

Edited books

New Directions in the Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, co-edited with Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao J. Gonzalez, Stephan Hartmann, Thomas Uebel and Marcel Weber.

Philosophy of Science in Europe; European Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, co-edited with Elizabeth Nemeth and Friedrich Stadler.

Bruno de Finetti, Radical Probabilist, London: College Publications, 2009.

Reasoning, Rationality, and Probability, Stanford: CSLI, 2008, co-edited with Roberto Scazzieri and Patrick Suppes.

Cambridge and Vienna, Frank P. Ramsey and the Vienna Circle, Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.

Observation and Experiment in the Natural and Social Sciences, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003.

Stochastic Causality, Stanford: CSLI, 2001, co-edited with Patrick Suppes and Domenico Costantini.

Chance in Physics. Foundations and Perspectives, Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer, 2001, co-edited with Jean Bricmont, Detlev Dürr, Giancarlo Ghirardi, Francesco Petruccione and Nino Zanghì.

Experience, Reality, and Scientific Explanation. Essays in Honor of Merrilee and Wesley Salmon, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1999, co-edited with Alessandro Pagnini.

Probability, Dynamics and Causality. Essays in Honour of Richard C. Jeffrey, special issue of Erkenntnis, 45 (1996), co-edited with Domenico Costantini. Reprinted as a separate volume, Dordrecht-Boston: Kluwer, 1997.

The Philosophy of F.P. Ramsey, special issue of Theoria LVII (1991).

Recent Developments in Explanation and Causality, special issue of Topoi, 9 (1990), n. 2.

Bruno de Finetti's Philosophy of Probability, special (double) issue of Erkenntnis, 31 (1989), n. 2-3, co-edited with Richard Jeffrey.

F.P.Ramsey, Notes on Philosophy, Probability and Mathematics, ed. by Maria Carla Galavotti, Naples: Bibliopolis, 1992 (collection of Ramsey's manuscripts from the Ramsey Collection, Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh).


“New Prospects for Pragmatism: Ramsey’s Constructivism”, in Maria Carla Galavotti, Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao J. Gonzalez, Stephan Hartmann, Thomas Uebel and MarcelWeber (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, pp. 645-656.

"For a Bottom-up Approach to the Philosophy of Science", in Cesare Cozzo and Emiliano Ippoliti (eds.), From a Heuristic Point of View. Essays in honor of Carlo Cellucci, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014, pp. 199-214.

“On Representing Evidence”, in Wenceslao J. Gonzalez (ed.), Bas van Fraassen’s Approach to Representation and Models in Science, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, pp. 101-118.

"Probabilistic Epistemology: A European Tradition", in Maria Carla Galavotti, Elizabeth Nemeth and Friedrich Stadler (eds.), Philosophy of Science in Europe; European Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht: Springer, 2014, pp. 77-88.

"Causality in Science", in P. Lorenzano, H.-J. Rheinberger, E. Ortiz, C. D. Galles (eds.), History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, EOLSS online publications: UNESCO, 2013.

"Probability, Statistics, and Law", in Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao J. Gonzalez, Stephan Hartmann, Michael Stoeltzner, Marcel Weber (eds.), Probability, Laws, and Structures, Dordrecht: Springer. Probability and Statistics”, Dordrecht: Springer, 2012, pp. 401-412.

"Evidence and the Assessment of Causal Relations in the Health Sciences", International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (2012), n. 1, pp. 27-45, coauthored with Raffaella Campaner.

"The Modern Epistemic Interpretations of Probability: Logicism and Subjectivism", in Dov Gabbay, Stephan Hartmann and John Woods (eds.), Handbook of the History of Logic. Volume 10: Inductive Logic, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2011, pp. 153-203.

"Probability and Pragmatism", in Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao J. Gonzalez, Stephan Hartmann, Thomas Uebel, Marcel Weber (eds.), Explanation, Prediction, and Confirmation, Dordrecht: Springer, 2011, pp. 499-510.

"On Hans Reichenbach’s Inductivism", Synthèse 181 (2011), n. 1, pp. 95-111.
(Online version July 2009: DOI: 10.1007/s11229-009-9589-6).

"Probabilistic Causality, Observation and Experimentation", in Wenceslao J. Gonzalez (ed.), New Methodological Perspectives on Observation and Experimentation in Science, A Coruña, Netbiblo, 2010, pp. 139-155.

"Some Remarks on Causality and Invariance", in Arturo Carsetti (ed.), Causality, Meaningful Complexity and Embodied Cognition, Dordrecht: Springer, 2010, pp. 211-230, coauthored with Raffaella Campaner.

"Probability: One or Many?" in Benedikt Löwe, Eric Pacuit, Jan-Willem Romeijn (eds.), Foundations of the Formal Sciences VI: Reasoning about Probabilities and Probabilistic Reasoning, London: College Publications, 2009, pp. 153-170.

"De Finetti’s Subjectivism, Objective Probability, and the Empirical Validation of Probability Assessments", in Maria Carla Galavotti (ed.), Bruno de Finetti, Radical Probabilist, London: College Publications, 2009, pp. 97-114, coauthored with Philip Dawid.

"Confirmation, Probability and Logical Empiricism", in Thomas Uebel and Alan Richardson (eds.), Cambridge Companion to Logical Empiricism, Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 117-135.

"Ramsey’s ‘Note on Time’". In Maria Carla Galavotti (ed.), Cambridge and Vienna. Frank P. Ramsey and the Vienna Circle (Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 2004), Dordrecht: Springer, 2006, pp. 155-165.

"For an Epistemology ‘From Within’. An Introduction to Suppes’ Work", Epistemologia XXIX (2006), pp. 215-224.

"Harold Jeffreys’ Epistemology between Logicism and Subjectivism", The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2003), pp. 43-57.

"Kinds of Probabilism", in Paolo Parrini, Wesley Salmon and Merrilee Salmon (eds.), Logical Empiricism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Pittsburgh: The University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003, pp. 281-303.

"Subjectivism, Objectivism and Objectivity in Bruno de Finetti’s Bayesianism", in David Corfield and Jon Williamson (eds.), Foundations of Bayesianism, Dordrecht-Boston-London: Kluwer, 2001, pp. 173-186.

"Some Remarks on Objective Chance (F.P. Ramsey, K.R. Popper and N.R. Campbell)", in Maria Luisa Dalla Chiara, Roberto Giuntini and Federico Laudisa (eds.), Language, Quantum, Music, Dordrecht-Boston, Kluwer, 1999, pp. 73-82.

"Theory and Observation in Econometric Models", in Rema Rossini Favretti, Giorgio Sandri and Roberto Scazzieri (eds.), Incommensurability and Translation, Cheltenham: Elgar, 1999, pp. 339-349 co-authored with Guido Gambetta.

"Wesley Salmon on Explanation, Probability and Rationality", in Maria Carla Galavotti and Alessandro Pagnini (eds.), Experience, Reality, and Scientific Explanation. Essays in Honor of Merrilee and Wesley Salmon, Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1999, pp. 39-54.

"Probabilism and Beyond", Erkenntnis, XLV (1996), pp. 253-265.

"Operationism, Probability and Quantum Mechanics", Foundations of Science I (1995-96), n.1, pp. 99-118.

"F.P. Ramsey and the Notion of ‘Chance’", in Jaakko Hintikka and Klaus Puhl (eds.), The British Tradition in the 20th Century Philosophy. Proceedings of the 17th International Wittgenstein Symposium, Vienna: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1995, pp. 330-340.

"Some Observations on Patrick Suppes’ Philosophy of Science", in Paul Humphreys (ed), Patrick Suppes: a Mathematical Philosopher, Boston: Kluwer, 1994, vol. 3, pp. 245-264.

“The Notion of Subjective Probability in the Work of Ramsey and de Finetti”, Theoria LVII (1991), pp. 239-259.

"Explanation and Causality: Some Suggestions from Econometrics", Topoi, IX (1990), pp. 161-169.

"Causality and Exogeneity in Econometric Models", in Roger Cooke and Domenico Costantini (eds.), Statistics in Science. The Foundations of Statistical Methods in Biology, Physics and Economics, Dordrecht-Boston: Kluwer, 1990, pp. 27-40 co-authored with Guido Gambetta.

"Anti-realism in the Philosophy of Probability: Bruno de Finetti's Subjectivism", Erkenntnis, 31 (1989), pp. 239-261.

Forthcoming articles

"The Origins of Probabilistic Epistemology. Some Leading Philosophers of Probability in the 20th Century", in Alan Hajek and Christopher Hitchcock (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Probability and Philosophy, Oxford U.P.

Co-editor with Friedrich Stadler of the series The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective published by Springer, and co-editor with Dennis Dieks and Wenceslao J. Gonzalez of the series European Studies in Philosophy of Science, published by Springer.