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Mark RisjordDirector, Institute for the Liberal Arts

An interdisciplinary scholar trained in philosophy, Risjord treats philosophical questions as intrinsic to scientific practice. In the first instance, philosophical problems arise as theoretical, methodological, or ethical questions in the sciences. Philosophy subjects these issues to critical reflection, viewing current difficulties in the light of two millennia of literature. In the end, a view’s success should be measured by its capacity to invigorate the scholarship of those who faced the difficulty in the first place. Practiced in this way, the philosophy of science exhibits a distinctive form of interdisciplinarity.

Risjord’s writing has primarily contributed to the philosophy of social science and the philosophy of medicine and nursing. He has published in philosophy, anthropology, and nursing journals, including American Ethnologist,American Philosophical Quarterly, IRB: Ethics and Human Research, Journal of Advanced Nursing,Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Nursing Philosophy, Philosophical Psychology, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, and Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science.

In the philosophy of social science he has written two books: Woodcutters and Witchcraft (SUNY Press, 2000) and Philosophy of Social Science: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge 2014). He has also edited two volumes of essays: Philosophy of Anthropology and Sociology (edited with Stephen Turner, Elsevier, 2007), Normativity and Naturalism in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (Routledge, 2016). His essays include "Relativism and the Ontological Turn in Anthropology" (Martin Palečk, co-author), "Scientific Change as Political Action: Franz Boas and the Anthropology of Race,” and "Reasons, Causes, and Action Explanations." His recent work has concerned the relationship between human agency and the norms and institutions of society. Essays in this area include "Ecological Attunement and the Normativity of Practice," and “Structure, Agency, and Improvisation.”

With respect to issues in health care, Risjord’s primary focus has been issues in nursing research. His book Nursing Knowledge: Science, Practice, and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) studies the history of nursing scholarship and contributes to contemporary discussions in nursing about the character of nursing research. Other essays in this area include “Nursing and Human Freedom,” “Evidence and Practical Knowledge,” “Rethinking Concept Analysis,” and “Methodological Triangulation in Nursing Research.”

Research Interests

Philosophy of science, particularly issues arising out of the social sciences, medicine, and nursing; philosophical dimensions of logic and language; epistemology.

Recent Publications