Robert Bishop, Ph.D.

Physics Department

Professor of Physics and Philosophy, John and Madeleine McIntyre Endowed Professor of Philosophy and History of Science
On Faculty since 2007

Office: Science Center 356
Phone: (630)752-5895


University of Texas at Austin, Ph. D., Philosophy, 1999

University of Texas at Austin, M. A., Physics, 1986

University of Texas at Austin, B. S. Physics, 1984

About Robert Bishop

Dr. Bishop's research involves history and philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, philosophy of social science, philosophy of mind and psychology, and metaphysics. He is particularly interested in chaos and complex systems and their philosophical implications.

Dr. Bishop is the area editor for philosophy of science at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy>>. See the desired list of articles on philospohy of science and make a proposal to write one!

In his free time, Dr. Bishop enjoys reading, hiking, golf, the arts, music, games and homemade ice cream.

Courses Taught

  • Thermodynamics
  • Particle Physics and Cosmology
  • Senior Seminar
  • Natural Science: Foundations, Methods, Challenges
  • Origins of Science
  • Ideas of Modern Science
  • Theories of Origins
  • History of Cosmology

Membership in Professional Societies

  • American Physical Society
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Scientific Affiliation
  • Philosophy of Science Association
  • British Society for the Philosophy of Science


Dr. Bishop is interested in the foundations of the physical and social sciences. In particular, he explores determinism, irreversibility in statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, nonlinear dynamics and its implications for modeling, hidden cultural and ethical ideals in the social sciences, and the implications of science and its assumptions for theories of mind, free will and consciousness.



The Philosophy of the Social Sciences (Continuum International Publishing Group, June 2007)

Between Chance and Choice: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Determinism, co-edited with Harald Atmanspacher (Imprint Academic, 2002)

Journal Articles

"Whence Chemistry? Reductionism and Neoreductionism," Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics (2010, pp. 171-177).

"Contemporary Views on Compatibilism and Incompatibilism: Dennett and Kane," Mind and Matter 7 (2009, pp. 91-110).

"What Could Be Worse than the Butterfly Effect?" The Canadian Journal of Philosophy 38 (2008, pp. 519-548).

"Chaos," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (June 2008).

"Downward Causation in Fluid Convection," Synthese 160 (2008, pp. 229-248).

"Contextual Emergence in the Description of Properties," with Harald Atmanspacher. Foundations of Physics 36 (2006, pp. 1753-1777).

"The Hidden Premise in the Causal Argument for Physicalism," Analysis 66 (2006, pp. 44-52).

"Patching Physics and Chemistry Together," Philosophy of Science 72 (2005, pp. 710-722).

"Resonances, Unstable Systems and Irreversibility: Matter Meets Mind," International Journal of Theoretical Physics 44 (2005, pp. 1879-1888).

"Quantum Time Arrows, Semigroups and Time-Reversal in Scattering," International Journal of Theoretical Physics 44 (2005, pp. 723-733).

"Anvil or Onion? Determinism as a Layered Concept," Erkenntnis 63 (2005, pp. 55-71).

"Practices and Power," with Frank Richardson, Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 24 (2004, pp. 179-195).

"Arrow of Time in Rigged Hilbert Space Quantum Mechanics," International Journal of Theoretical Physics 43 (2004, pp. 1675-1687).

"Irreversibility in Quantum Mechanics," with Arno Bohm and Manuel Gadella, Discrete Dynamics in Nature and Society 2004:1 (pp. 75-83). I am primary author.

"Nonequilibrium Statistical Mechanics Brussels-Austin Style," Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (2004, pp. 1-30).

"Free Will in absentia: Dennett on Free Will and Determinism," Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 23 (2003, pp. 168-183).

"A Tale of Two Arrows," International Journal of Theoretical Physics 42 (2003, pp. 2371-2377).

"On Separating Prediction from Determinism," Erkenntnis 58 (2003, pp. 169-188).

"Science and Theology: A Methodological Comparison," Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies V (1993, pp. 141-162).

Book Chapters

"Metaphysical and Epistemological Issues in Complex Systems," in Philosophy of Complex Systems, vol 10, Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Clifford Hooker and John Collier volume eds. (Elservier 2011), pp. 119-150.

"Free Will and the Causal Closure of Physics," in Visions of Discovery: New Light on Physics Cosmology and Consciousness, Raymond Chiao, William Phillips and Charles Harper eds. (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 601-611.

"Reductionism," in The Science and Religion Primer, Heidi Campbell and Heather Looy eds. (Baker Academic, 2009), pp. 189-192.

“Determinism and Indeterminism,” Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition. Farmington Mills, MI: Thomson Gale (2006, Vol. 3, pp. 29-35).

"Cognitive Psychology: Hidden Assumptions," in Critical Thinking about Psychology: Hidden Assumptions and Plausible Alternatives, Brent Slife, Jeffrey Reber and Frank Richardson eds. (American Psychological Association Books, 2005, pp. 151-170).

"Deterministic and Indeterministic Descriptions," in Between Chance and Choice (Imprint Academic, 2002, pp. 5-31).

"Rethinking Determinism in Social Science," with Frank Richardson in Between Chance and Choice (Imprint Academic, 2002, pp. 425-45).

"Chaos, Indeterminism and Free Will," in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Robert Kane ed. (Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 111-24).

"Extrinsic and Intrinsic Irreversibility in Probabilistic Dynamical Laws," with Harald Atmanspacher and Anton Amann in Quantum Probability and White Noise Analysis Volume XIII, Andrei Khrennikov ed. (World Scientific, 2002, pp. 50-70).

"La Physique, les Sciences Humaines et la Fin des Certitudes," with Frank Richardson in L'Homme Devant L'Incertain, Ilya Prigogine ed., (Editions Odile Jacob, 2001, pp. 337-58)

"Is Chaos Indeterministic?" with Fred Kronz in Language, Quantum, Music: Selected Contributed Papers of the Tenth International Congress of Logic, Methodology & Philosophy of Science, Florence, August, 1995, Maria Luisa Dalla Chiara, Roberto Guintini and Federico Laudisa eds. (Kluwer Academic, 1999, pp. 129-41).

"Magnetohydrodynamic Simulation of the Evolution of Large-Scale Magnetic Fields in Disk Galaxies," with Paul Shapiro and Dan Barnes in Galactic and Intergalactic Magnetic Fields, R. Beck et al. eds. (Kluwer Academic, 1990, pp. 151-2).