Alfred I. Tauber

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Not to be confused with the mathematician Alfred Tauber (1866-1942).

Alfred I. Tauber (born 1947), Zoltan Kohn Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Boston University, is an American philosopher and historian of science, who, from 1993 to 2010, served as Director of the Boston University Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University.

Since 2004, Tauber has held a part-time visiting professorship at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he teaches in the Cohn Institute for the History of Science and Ideas and supervises research in the medical school. While primarily teaching and writing in science studies and bioethics, Tauber originally trained as a biochemist and hematologist. Aside from over 125 research publications in biochemistry and cell biology, Tauber has published extensively on 19th and 20th century biomedicine, the development of modern immunology, the doctor-patient relationship, and contemporary science studies. He is the 2008 recipient of the Science Medal from the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy and Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa from the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel in 2011. In 2013 Tauber was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors of the University of Haifa and is currently holding the position.


An authority on the philosophy of immunology, Alfred Tauber published the first philosophical study of contemporary immunology, The Immune Self: Theory or Metaphor? (Cambridge 1994), which became the middle monograph of a trilogy on the theoretical development of modern immunology. This work was followed by Confessions of a Medicine Man (MIT Press 1999), where Tauber promoted the foundational status of the ethics of medicine, and thus firmly placed science and technology in the employ of the moral mandate of health care. Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility (MIT Press 2005) extended this argument with a description of "relational autonomy" to define the moral status of the patient, coupled with advocacy of patient-centered medicine.


Tauber's principal philosophical interests concern the replacement of reified notions of science with an epistemology thoroughly melded with human-centered interests and intentions. In seeking a comprehensive understanding of scientific practice and application, Tauber promotes "moral epistemology", a philosophy that builds upon the collapse of the fact/value distinction to define the interplay of various values in the diversity of science's methodologies and interpretations. More specifically, he is concerned with the nature of knowing that translates objective knowledge into personal meaning. His Thoreau and the Moral Agency of Knowing (California 2001) illustrates the composite character of personal identity that such an approach presents, one in which moral agency broadly defines personal identity.


Tauber is married to Paula Fredriksen [1], the William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture Emerita at Boston University.

Tauber has four children by a previous marriage to Alice Tauber: Joel, a performance artist [2]; Dylan, a multimedia artist [3][4], Benjamin, a landscape architect, and Hana, an adult education teacher and political activist.

Alfred Tauber's extracurricular activities focus on Amuta Moshe Hess, a charity he founded and directs, which provides services to the mentally disabled in Israel.

Selected books[edit]

  • Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010.
  • Science and the Quest for Meaning, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2009.
  • Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2005.
  • Henry David Thoreau and the Moral Agency of Knowing. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001. (Paperback 2003)
  • Confessions of a Medicine Man: An Essay in Popular Philosophy Cambridge: The MIT Press, A Bradford Book, 1999 (Paperback 2000). Awarded "Outstanding Academic Title" by Choice (journal of the American Library Association) and First Prize, Allied Health category, by the American Medical Writers Association. Korean translation 2004; Spanish translation, 2011.
  • Podolsky, S. H. and Tauber, A. I. Generation of Diversity. Clonal Selection Theory and the Rise of Molecular Immunology, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • The Immune Self: Theory or Metaphor? New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994 (Paperback 1996). Italian translation, L'immunologia Dell'io, Milano: McGraw Hill Libri Italia, 1999.
  • Gourko, H., Williamson, D.I. and Tauber, A.I. (Edited, translated, and annotated) The Evolutionary Biology Papers of Elie Metchnikoff. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.
  • Tauber A.I. and Chernyak L. Metchnikoff and the Origins of Immunology: From Metaphor to Theory New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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