Lawrence Sklar

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Lawrence Sklar
Born (1938-06-25) June 25, 1938 (age 85)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan
Main interests
Philosophy of physics
Notable ideas
MIMO ("metaphysics in, metaphysics out") principle

Lawrence Sklar (born June 25, 1938) is an American philosopher. He is the Carl G. Hempel and William K. Frankena Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan.[1]

Education and career[edit]

Sklar was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1938 and educated at Oberlin College (B.A., 1954–1958) and Princeton University (M.A., Ph.D., 1959–1964) where he worked with Hilary Putnam.

He worked at Swarthmore College from 1962 to 1966, first as an instructor and then as an assistant professor. He then worked as an assistant professor at Princeton University until 1968. Since 1968, he has been at the University of Michigan, where he is now a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus.

He has held visiting professorships at the University of Illinois (1963), the University of Pennsylvania (1968), Harvard University (1970), UCLA (1973) and Wayne State University (1977).[2]

Philosophical work[edit]

He specializes in the philosophy of physics, approaching a wide range of issues from a position best described as highly skeptical of many of the metaphysical conclusions commonly drawn in the physical sciences. He advocates the 'MIMO' (metaphysics in, metaphysics out) principle, claiming that much of the metaphysical content of interpreted theories in the special sciences arises from metaphysical assumptions made during their formulation.

Personal life[edit]

While at Swarthmore, Sklar met and married Swarthmore undergraduate Elizabeth Sherr Sklar, who would later become an English professor at Wayne State University. Their daughter is mathematician Jessica Sklar.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Space, Time and Spacetime (University of California Press, 1974) (awarded the Matchette Prize from the American Philosophical Association as the outstanding philosophical book for 1973–74)
  • Philosophy and Spacetime Physics (University of California Press, 1985)
  • Philosophy of Physics (Oxford University Press, 1992)
  • Physics and Chance: Philosophical Issues in the Foundations of Statistical Mechanics (Cambridge University Press, 1993) (awarded the Lakatos Award in philosophy of science for 1995)
  • Theory and Truth: Philosophical Critique Within Foundational Science (Oxford University Press, 2000) (based on the John Locke Lectures at Oxford)
  • Philosophy and the Foundations of Dynamics (Cambridge University Press, 2013)


  1. ^ "Faculty page: Lawrence Sklar". University of Michigan. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Mackenzie, Dana (January 2013). "1 Plus 1 Makes Engaging Book: Mother and Daughter Bridge Generations and Disciplines". Swarthmore College Bulletin.