Adolf Grünbaum helped lift Pitt’s philosophy department to worldwide renown

Adolf Grünbaum, the chair of Pitt’s Center for Philosophy of Science, died Nov. 15 at the age of 95.

Grünbaum’s writings deal with the philosophy of physics, the theory of scientific rationality, the philosophy of psychiatry and the critique of theism. He also held the titles of Andrew Mellon professor of Philosophy of Science, primary research professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and research professor of Psychiatry

“Adolf’s contributions to the University of Pittsburgh — and the field of philosophy — were prolific and profound,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a news release. “He was bold — a visionary architect who helped grow our philosophy department into what is now known as the best program worldwide. He was beloved, having served on our faculty for nearly 60 years. And he was renowned — a proverbial giant in the scholarly exploration of space and time.”

Provost Ann E. Cudd, a former student of Grünbaum’s, said he was “a formative influence in my educational life at the University of Pittsburgh — and in the lives of so many others. I am incredibly grateful to him for building the Department of Philosophy into one of the greatest in the world.  And the Center for Philosophy of Science, founded by Dr. Grünbaum, is world-renowned. I consider it a true honor to have been one of his students, and I feel deep sadness at his passing.”

The 2012 book, “Why Does the World Exist?” by New York Times journalist Jim Holt, described Grünbaum as “arguably the greatest living philosopher of science.”

A former president of the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division, Grünbaum was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He served two terms as president of the Philosophy of Science Association from 1965-70. In 2004-2005, he was president of the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science.

His 12 books include “Philosophical Problems of Space and Time,” “Modern Science and Zeno’s Paradoxes” and “The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique.” He contributed more than 370 articles to anthologies and to philosophical and scientific periodicals.

Find more details about Grünbaum in obituary from the Post-Gazette.