Richard Newell Boyd

Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy and Humane Letters Emeritus


Professor Boyd specialized in philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. He was also interested in ethics, in social and political philosophy, especially Marxism, and in the philosophy of biology. He came to the Sage School faculty in 1972, after teaching at Harvard, the University of Michigan, and the University of California at Berkeley. 

Professor Boyd passed away in February 2021.  Link to Cornell Chronicle obituary   Link to Faculty Memorial

Research Focus

  • philosophy of science
  • epistemology
  • philosophy of language
  • philosophy of mind
  • ethics
  • social and political philosophy
  • Marxism
  • philosophy of biology


  • "Determinism, Laws and Predictability in Principle," Philosophy of Science (1972).
  • "What Materialism Does Not Imply," in Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology, ed. N.J. Block (1981).
  • "On the Current Status of the Issue of Scientific Realism," Erkenntnis (1983).
  • "Scientific Realism and Naturalistic Epistemology," PSA 80, vol. 2 (Philosophy of Science Association).
  • "Observations, Explanatory Power and Simplicity," in Experiment and Observationin Modern Science, ed. Achinstein and Hannaway (1984).
  • "Lex Orandi est Lex Credendi," in Images of Science: Scientific Realism Versus Constructive Empiricism, ed. Churchland and Hooker (1984).
  • "The Logician's Dilemma: Deductive Logic, Inductive Inference and Logical Empiricism," Erkenntnis (1985).
  • "How to be a Moral Realist," in Essays on Moral Realism, ed. Sayre McCord (1988).
  • "Constructivism, Realism, and Philosophical Method," in J. Earman, ed. Inference, Explanation, and Other Philosophical Frustrations. Berkeley: University of California Press (1992).
  • "Metaphor and Theory Change," in Metaphor and Thought, ed. Ortony (1993).