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Nicholas Rescher (born July 15, 1928 in Hagen, Germany) is an American philosopher, affiliated for many years with the University of Pittsburgh, where he is currently University Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Center for the Philosophy of Science. He is among the most prolific of contemporary scholars, having written about 400 articles and 100 books, over a dozen of which have been translated into other languages, ranging over many areas of philosophy. He was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for Humanistic Scholarship in 1984 and the American Catholic Philosophical Society's Aquinas medal in 2007.


Rescher obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton University in 1951, the youngest person—22 at the time—ever to do so in that department [1] He has served as a President of the American Philosophical Association, American Catholic Philosophy Association, American G. W. Leibniz Society, C. S. Peirce Society, and the American Metaphysical Society. He has held visiting lectureships at Oxford, Constance, Salamanca, Munich, and Marburg, and his work has been recognized by seven honorary degrees from universities on three continents.


Rescher has written on a wide range of topics, including logic, epistemology, the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and the philosophy of value. He is best known for advocating forms of pragmatism and, more recently, process philosophy.

In a productive research career extending over six decades, Rescher has established himself as a systematic philosopher of the old style and author of a system of pragmatic idealism which weaves together threads of thought from continental idealism and American pragmatism. And apart from this larger program Rescher’s many-sided work has made significant contributions to logic (the conception autodescriptive systems of many-sided logic), to the history of logic (the medieval Arabic theory of modal syllogistic), to the theory of knowledge (epistemetrics as a quantitative approach in theoretical epistemology), to the philosophy of science (the theory of a logarithmic returns in scientific effort). Rescher has also worked in the area of futuristics, and along with Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey is co-inaugurator of the so-called Delphi method of forecasting.

He also:

  • Has developed a system of pragmatic idealism, in which the activity of the human mind makes a positive and constitutive contribution to knowledge, and "valid" knowledge contributes to practical success;
  • Defends a coherence theory of truth in a manner differing somewhat from that of classical idealism; see e.g. his exchange in The Philosophy of Brand Blanshard (in the Library of Living Philosophers series);
  • Advocates [1] an "erotetic propagation" of science, asserting that scientific inquiry will continue without end because each newly answered question adds a presupposition for at least one more open question to the current body of scientific knowledge.
  • Has written historical studies on Leibniz, Kant, Charles Peirce, and on Arabic philosophy and logic.

Partial bibliography

OUP = Oxford University Press. PUP = Princeton University Press. SUNY Press = State University of New York Press. UPA = University Press of America. UPP = University of Pittsburgh Press.

  • 1964. The Development of Arabic Logic. UPP.
  • 1968. Studies in Arabic Philosophy. UPP.
  • 1977. Methodological Pragmatism: A Systems-Theoretic Approach to the Theory of Knowledge. Basil Blackwell; New York University Press.
  • 1978. Scientific Progress: A Philosophical Essay on the Economics of Research in Natural Science. UPP
  • 1982 (1973). The Coherence Theory of Truth. UPA.
  • 1982 (1969). Introduction to Value Theory. UPA.
  • 1983. Risk: A Philosophical Introduction to the Theory of Risk Evaluation and Management. UPA.
  • 1985. The Strife of Systems: An Essay on the Grounds and Implications of Philosophical Diversity. UPP.
  • 1988. Rationality. OUP.
  • 1989. Cognitive Economy: Economic Perspectives in the Theory of Knowledge. UPP.
  • 1989. A Useful Inheritance: Evolutionary Epistemology in Philosophical Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • 1990. Human Interests: Reflections on Philosophical Anthropology. Stanford University Press.
  • 1993. Pluralism: Against the Demand for Consensus. OUP.
  • A System of Pragmatic Idealism
    • 1991. Volume I: Human Knowledge in Idealistic Perspective. PUP.
    • 1992. Volume II: The Validity of Values: Human Values in Pragmatic Perspective. PUP.
    • 1994. Volume III: Metaphilosophical Inquiries. PUP.
  • 1995. Luck. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  • 1995. Essays in the History of Philosophy. UK: Aldershot.
  • 1995. Process Metaphysics. SUNY Press.
  • 1996. Instructive Journey: An Autobiographical Essay. UPA.
  • 1998. Complexity: A Philosophical Overview. Transaction Publishers.
  • 1999. Kant and the Reach of Reason. Cambridge University Press.
  • 1999. Realistic Pragmatism: An Introduction to Pragmatic Philosophy. SUNY Press.
  • 1999 (1984). The Limits of Science. UPP.
  • 2000. Nature and Understanding: A Study of the Metaphysics of Science. OUP.
  • 2001. Paradoxes: Their Roots, Range, and Resolution. Open Court Publishing.
  • 2001. Process Philosophy: A Survey of Basic Issues. UPP.
  • 2003. Epistemology: On the Scope and Limits of Knowledge. SUNY Press.
  • 2003. On Leibniz. UPP.
  • 2004. Epistemic Logic. UPP.
  • 2005. Metaphysics: The Key Issues from a Realist Perspective. Prometheus Books.
  • 2005. Reason and Reality: Realism and Idealism in Pragmatic Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield.
  • 2005-2006. Collected Papers, 14 vols. Ontos Verlag.
  • 2006. Epistemetrics. Cambridge University Press.
  • 2006. Conditionals. MIT Press.
  • 2007. Error: On Our Predicament When Things Go Wrong. UPP.

Eponymous concepts

  • Logic: Rescher QUANTIFIER
  • Non-classical logic: Dienes-Rescher inference engine (also Rescher-Dienes implication); Rescher-Manor consequence relation
  • Paraconsistent logic: Rescher-Brandom semantics
  • Temporal logic: Rescher operator
  • Scientometrics: Rescher's Law of logarithmic returns
  • Distributive justice: Rescher's effective average measure
  • Dialectics: Rescher's theory of formal disputation


  • Almeder, Robert, ed., 1982. Praxis and Reason: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Rescher. UPA.
  • Marsonet, Michele, 1995. The Primacy of Practical Reason: An Essay on Nicholas Rescher's Philosophy. UPA.
  • Sosa, Ernest, ed., 1979. The Philosophy of Nicholas Rescher. Reidel.
  • Weber, Michael, ed., 2004. After Whitehead: Rescher and Process Philosophy. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.
  • Wüstehube, A., and Quante, M., eds., 1998. Pragmatic Idealism: Critical Discussions of Nicholas Rescher's Philosophical System. Amsterdam: Ropodi.
  1. 1984, "The Limits of Science" in Paul Weingartner and Hans Czermak, eds., Epistemology and Philosophy of Science: Proceedings of the 7th International Wittgenstein Symposium: 223-231.

External link

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