Faculty at the School of Arts and Humanities

Matthew J. Brown


Director, Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology

Areas of Specialization:  Philosophy of Science, American Pragmatism, Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Technology, Science and Values

Office:  JO 4.120
Office Hours:  M: 5:30-6:30, Th: 4-5
Mail Station:  JO 31
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  972-883-2536

I am a scholar of philosophy of science, science and technology studies, and cognitive science. I am currently a Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at the University of Texas at Dallas. I am also the Director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology, which organizes research projects, puts on public lectures and conferences, and advocates for understanding and improving the relation between human values and culture with science and technology. I am affiliated with the faculties of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Emerging Media and Communication, and Arts and Technology at UT Dallas.

My research focuses on the interrelations between science, on the one hand, and human practices, values, and society, on the other, and on bringing these connections to the forefront of philosophy, science studies, and the practice of science. My work challenges the view that science stands apart, and argues that, as a human practice, science not only plays a major role in society and culture, but it also is and should be deeply influenced by values and social factors. I construe science broadly to include biomedical and engineering research. My approach to philosophy is pragmatist in the broad sense of emphasizing concrete practices, and pragmatist in the narrow sense of often drawing on the work of John Dewey.

In all my teaching, I focus on providing students with hands-on experience in the distinctive activities of the field, whether I am teaching philosophy, history, interdisciplinary humanities, or the research methods of cognitive ethnography. Most of my teaching has been in philosophy; there, I aim to acquaint students with the key elements of philosophical activity: critical habits of mind, painstaking care in thinking, and creative play of ideas. While it is important for students to be aware of the distinctive insights of the philosophical tradition, it is also important not to limit their philosophical attention to the narrow problems of professional philosophy, but to reorient them to the wider problems of life and intellectual inquiry. While it is important to teach the particular arguments of philosophers, students should also be encouraged to engage philosophically with other areas of thought.

In my philosophy classes, I emphasize careful reading of texts, crafting of rigorous arguments based on evidence, as well as a accurate understanding of the issues, insight in interpretation, and, where feasible, originality of ideas and approach. Likewise, with history of philosophy or history of science, students should engage in the activity of careful interpretation of primary sources and engagement with the secondary literature. In teaching research methods, it is important to give students opportunities to practice those methods in realistic settings.

Often, as the subject-matter allows, I stress social responsibility and public engagement through service learning projects in addition to traditional academic assignments. For instance, for my philosophy of technology and science, technology, and values courses, students have created projects aimed at disseminating information about sustainable technologies for rural communities in the developing world, video games that discourage online bullying, and humorous videos encouraging viewers to recycle batteries.

I have worked at UT Dallas since the Fall of 2009. I received my B.S. from the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where I studied with Jon J. Johnston, David Finkelstein, Bryan Norton, and Nancy Nersessian. I received my M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Califorina, San Diego, where my dissertation was supervised by Nancy Cartwright and Paul Churchland (and I benefited from many other wonderful faculty).

Work Samples and Publications: 

  • Matthew J. Brown and Joyce C. Havstad. "The Disconnect Problem, Scientific Authority, and Climate Policy." Perspectives on Science 25, 2017
  • Matthew J. Brown and Ian James Kidd (eds), Reappraising Paul Feyerabend, Special section of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science A, forthcoming
  • "The Functional Complexity of Scientific Evidence." Metaphilosophy 46(1):65–83, 2015
  • "Values in Science beyond Underdetermination and Inductive Risk." Philosophy of Science 80(5):829–839, 2013
  • "John Dewey's Pragmatist Alternative to the Belief-Acceptance Dichotomy." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science A 53:62–70, 2015
  • "John Dewey's Logic of Science." HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 2(2):258–306, 2012

PhD, Philosophy, University of California-San Diego, 2009
MA, Philosophy, University of California-San Diego, 2006
BS, Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2003

Curriculum Vitae:  Matthew J. Brown's CV

Website(s):  Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology  |  Personal Web Site  |  My Courses