Dr. Robert T. Pennock

Michigan State University

Lyman Briggs College
Dept. of Philosophy
Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering
Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (EEB) Program
Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science (SEPOS)

How do organisms become knowers, and how can science systematize and improve this process in the service of human flourishing? Addressing these questions conceptually, I argue for a virtue philosophy of science that, drawing on Aristotle and Darwinian evolution, theorizes the character of scientists as a normative point of connection between scientific methods and practices and the epistemic and ethical values the underlie them. Philosophy of science should be closely integrated with its subject matter, so I also study these questions empirically. I investigate the origin of intelligent behavior by combining evolutionary biology with computer science—using evolving digital organisms, we do experiments to investigate how intelligence can evolve. I also use social science methods to study scientists’ attitudes about scientific values. I’m especially interested in curiosity and other vocational virtues that are important for excellence in scientific research and how we can do better helping science students cultivate these as part of their vocational identity.

– Current Grant –

I am PI of the VERITIES Initiative, an NSF-funded institutional transformation project to implement a scientific virtue-based approach to responsible conduct of research education.

– Recent Book –

Darwin said that he felt within himself “an instinct for truth…not unlike the instinct of virtue.” This book presents my account of the scientific virtues, linking philosophy of science to a philosophy of the scientist.

– Speaking Schedule –

Upcoming and recent invited talks include:
• World Conference on Research Integrity (Athens (6/3/24)
• VERITIES Humility to Evidence Workshop (5/29/24)
• National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (5/12/23)


Cover image of book But Is It Science?: The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy.  Click to go to it at Promethesis Books.
Cover image of book Evolution in Action: Past, Present and Future.  Click for book page at Springer Publishing.