Angela Potochnik

Angela Potochnik

Associate Professor; Director of Center for Public Engagement with Science

McMicken Hall


A&S Philosophy - 0374

Professional Summary

Potochnik's research interests include philosophy of biology, philosophy of science, and history of logical empiricism.  She is especially focused upon the methodology of population biology; the role of idealized models in biology and science more generally; the properties of scientific explanations; how gender and other social factors influence science; and the work of Otto Neurath. 

Visit Potochnik's website.  


Ph.D., Stanford University 2007 (Philosophy)

B.A., Hendrix College 2002 (Philosophy)

Positions and Work Experience

2011 -2013 Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

2010 -2011 Visiting Research Fellow, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2008 -2010 Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK

2007 -2008 Teaching Fellow, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2013 -To Present Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati,


Peer Reviewed Publications

Angela Potochnik and Audrey Yap (2006. )Revisiting Galison's 'Aufbau/Bauhaus' in Light of Neurath's Philosophical Projects.Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A, ,37 (3 ),469-488

Angela Potochnik (2007. )Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality.Philosophy of Science, ,74 (5 ),680-691

Angela Potochnik (2009. )Optimality Modeling in a Suboptimal World.Biology and Philosophy, ,24 (2 ),183-197

Angela Potochnik (2010. )Explanatory Independence and Epistemic Interdependence: A Case Study of the Optimality Approach.The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, ,61 (1 ),213-233

Angela Potochnik (2010. )Levels of Explanation Reconceived.Philosophy of Science, ,77 (1 ),59-72

Angela Potochnik (2011. )A Neurathian Conception of the Unity of Science.Erkenntnis, ,34 (3 ),305-319

Angela Potochnik (2011. )Explanation and Understanding: An Alternative to Strevens' Depth.The European Journal for Philosophy of Science, ,1 (1 ),29-38

Angela Potochnik, Erika Milam, Roberta Millstein, and Joan Roughgarden (2011. )Sex and Sensibility: The Role of Social Selection, A Review Symposium of Roughgarden's The Genial Gene.Metascience, ,20 (2 ),253-277

Angela Potochnik (2012. )Modeling Social and Evolutionary Games .Studies in HIstory and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, ,43 (1 ),202-208

Angela Potochnik and Brian McGill (2012. )The Limitations of Hierarchical Organization .Philosophy of Science, ,79 (1 ),120-140

Angela Potochnik (2012. )Feminist Implications of Model-Based Science .Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, ,43 (2 ),383-389

Angela Potochnik (2013. )Defusing Ideological Defenses in Biology .BioScience, ,63 (2 ),118-123

Francis Cartieri and Angela Potochnik (2014. )Toward Philosophy of Science's Social Engagement .Erkenntnis, ,

Angela Potochnik (2015. )Causal Patterns and Adequate Explanations .Philosophical Studies, ,172 ,1163-1182

Angela Potochnik (2015. )The Diverse Aims of Science .Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, ,

Angela Potochnik (2016. )Scientific Explanation: Putting Communication First .Philosophy of Science, ,

Brian McGill and Angela Potochnik (2018. )Mechanisms Are Causes, Not Components: A Response to Connolly, et al. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, ,

Published Books

Angela Potochnik (2017. )Idealization and the Aims of Science .Chicago ,University of Chicago Press

Angela Potochnik, Matteo Colombo, and Cory Wright (2018. )Recipes for Science: An Introduction to Scientific Methods and Reasoning .Routledge

Book Chapter

Angela Potochnik (2013 )Biological Explanation The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators .(pp. 49-65).Springer

Angela Potochnik (2018 )Eight Other Questions About Explanation Explanation Beyond Causation .Oxford University Press

Additional Publications


Invited Presentations

Angela Potochnik (2008. )The Unity of Science in a Disordered, Dappled World .Departments of Philosophy at Cal State Long Beach, Florida State University, Oklahoma State University, Syracuse University, UC Davis, and University of Western Ontario,

Angela Potochnik (2008. )Philosophical Lessons from the Historical Sciences .School of Geology, Oklahoma State University,

Angela Potochnik (2008. )Situating the Optimality Approach in Population BIology .Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University,

Angela Potochnik (2009. )Evolution and Contextual Explanation .Deparment of Philosophy, University of Washington,

Angela Potochnik (2009. )Science in a Complex World: Lessons from Biology .Steele Center Lecture, Hendrix College,

Angela Potochnik (2009. )Cooperation, Competition, and the Evolution of Sex .Friday Afternoon Discussion, Hendrix College,

Angela Potochnik (2010. )Explanation and Understanding .Departments of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati and University of Kentucky,

Angela Potochnik (2010. )The Limitations of Hierarchical Thinking .Department of Philosophy, Stanford University,

Angela Potochnik (2011. )Idealizing the Realizers .Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Group Program, San Diego, CA.

Paper Presentations

Angela Potochnik (2003. )Explanations and Extensions of Tit-for-Tat .Stanford University.

Angela Potochnik (2004. )A Shift in Wittgenstein's Position on Syntax .University of San Francisco.

Angela Potochnik (2005. )Another Kind of Unity: The Case of Evolutionary Modeling .University of Guelph.

Angela Potochnik (2005. )Another Kind of Unity: The Case of Evolutionary Modeling .Stirling University, Scotland.

Angela Potochnik (2006. )Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality .University of British Columbia.

Angela Potochnik (2006. )Optimality Modeling and Explanatory Generality .UC Davis.

Angela Potochnik (2007. )Generality, Complexity, and Approaches to Explanation .San Francisco, CA.

Angela Potochnik (2007. )Optimality Explanation as Anti-Reductionism .University of Exeter, England.

Angela Potochnik (2009. )A Dispute over the Basics of Nature .University of Sydney, Australia.

Honors and Awards

2011 Marjorie Grene Prize for best manuscript based on a presentation while a graduate student, International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

2011 Taft Summer Research Grant Taft Foundation, University of Cincinnati

2009 Dean's Incentive Grant Oklahoma State University

2009 Fae Rawdon Norris Grant in support of a visiting lecture, Oklahoma State University

2002 President's Medal for the graduating senior who best exemplifies the highest ideals of the College, Hendrix College

2002 R.G. Shoemaker Award for the outstanding graduating senior in philosophy Hendrix College

2012 University Research Council Summer Research Fellowship Status:Recipient Level:University Type:Fellowship