Richard A. Richards Professor Dept of Philosophy Faculty Fellow Leadership Board University of Alabama

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Richard A. Richards


Dept. of Philosophy

Faculty Fellow Leadership Board

University of Alabama

P.O. Box 860332 Dept. of Philosophy

Tuscaloosa, Al 35486 Box 870218

(205) 454-2378 University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

(205) 348-2332



Johns Hopkins University Ph.D.--Philosophy (1999)

M.A.--Philosophy (1993)

Johns Hopkins University Center for the History and Philosophy of Science

Certificate (1994)

University of Utah B.A.--Philosophy (1984)

Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Biology

History of and Philosophy of Science

Darwin Studies


Deductive Logic

Inductive Logic and Probability

Critical Thinking and informal logic

Early Modern Philosophy

Ancient Philosophy

Classic American Philosophy

The Species Problem: A Philosophical Analysis, Cambridge University Press (2010).
Books in Progress
Biological Classification: A Philosophical introduction, under contract with Cambridge University Press, delivery date 5/31/2015.
Articles in Progress
Darwin’s Experimentalism, for a special volume on Darwin and the Scientific Revolution, for the Journal Elsevier (under contract)
Aristotle, Eidos and Evolution
Articles and Chapters -
Classification, entry for The Vocabulary for the Study of Religion, an online and printed reference work for Religious Studies, Robert Segal and Kocku van Stuckrad, eds. (In Press)
The Species Problem: A Conceptual Problem, The Species Problem: Ongoing Issues, Igor Pavlinov, ed. InTech Europe (2013)
Arnhart’s Explanatory Pluralism, Evolution and Morality, James E. Fleming and Sanford Levinson, eds. New York University Press, (2012)
Sexual Selection, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought, Michael Ruse, ed, Cambridge Univ. Press (2012)
Evidence and Evolution: Peter Achinstein’s Theory of Evidence, Philosophy of Science Matters: The Philosophy of Peter Achinstein, Gregory Morgan, ed. Oxford Univ. Press. (2010)
Sexual Selection: Its Possible Contribution to Recent Human Evolution, Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, John Wiley (2010)
Darwin’s Philosophical Impact, in Routledge Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy, Dean Moyar, ed. (2010).
The Philosophy of Biological Classification, Encyclopedia of Life Science, John Wiley (Dec. 2009)

Functional Analysis and Character Transformation, in Form and Function in Developmental Evolution, Laubichler, Maienschein and Wagonsberg, eds., Cambridge University Press (2009)
Classification in Darwin’s Origin, Cambridge Companion to the “Origin of Species,” Michael Ruse and Robert Richards eds., Cambridge University Press. (2009)

Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae¸ Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, E. O. Wilson, M. Ruse, J. Travers Eds., Harvard Univ. Press. (2009)

Species and Taxonomy, Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Biology, M. Ruse, Ed., Oxford Univ. Press, (2008)

Solving the Species Problem: Kitcher and Hull on Sets and Individuals, Philosophy of Biology, M. Ruse, ed., Prometheus Press. (2008)

Philosophical Challenges in Teaching Evolution, Evolution: Education and Outreach, Springer Publ., January 2008.

Species Problem: A Philosophical Analysis, Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, John Wiley, 2007.

Evolutionary Naturalism and the Logical Structure of Valuation: the Other Side of Error Theory Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy vol. 1 no. 2 2005.

Reply to Dickie, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Summer 2005 63:3 pp. 283-287.
Is Domestic Breeding Evidence For (or Against) Darwinian Evolution, Scientific Evidence: Philosophical Theories and Applications, Peter Achinstein, ed., Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2005.
A Fitness Model of Evaluation, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Summer 2004, 62:3, pp. 263-275.

Character Individuation in Phylogenetic Inference, Philosophy of Science, 70, April 2003, pp. 264-279.

Kuhnian Values and Cladistic Parsimony, Perspectives on Science, 2002, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 1-27, 2003.

Darwin, Domestic Breeding and Artificial Selection, Endeavour, vol. 22(3) 1998, pp. 106-109 (Elsevier Science).

Darwin and the Inefficacy of Artificial Selection, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, March 1997, vol. 28, no. 1 pp. 75-97.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology, Natural Categories and Human Kinds, Muhammad Ali Khalidi, 2013.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology, Evolution’s Wedge: Competition and the Origins of Diversity, David and Karen Pfennig, 2013.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology, Processes of Life: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology, John Dupre, 2012.
Book Review Isis: Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards, Elliott Sober, 2012.
Book Review Science and Education, Species: History of the Idea, John Wilkins, 2012.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology: A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and its Evolution, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, 2012.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology: Reading Human Nature: Literary Darwinism in Theory and Practice, Joseph Carroll, 2011.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology: Homo Novus—Human Without Illusions, Ulrich J. Frey, Charlotte Störmer, and Kai P. Willfür, 2011.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology: Nonsense on Stilts: How to tell Science from Bunk, by Massimo Pigliucci, 2010.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology: Darwin in Galapagoes: Footsteps to a New World” by K. Thalia Grant and Gregory B. Estes, 2010.
Book Review Evolution and Development: Charles Darwin’s Field Notes from the Voyage of the Beagle, by Chancellor and Van Wyhe, 2009.
Book Review Quarterly Review of Biology: Origins: Selected Letters of Charles Darwin, 1822-1859 and Evolution: Selected Letters of Charles Darwin 1860-1870, Edited by Frederick Burkehardt, 2008.
Book Review for International Philosophical Quarterly: “Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change,” Joseph LaPorte, 2005.
Featured Book Review for Quarterly Review of Biology: Science and Selection: Essays on Biological Evolution and the Philosophy of Science, M. Ruse, ed., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2001.
Book Review for Quarterly Review of Biology: Mystery Of Mysteries: Is Evolution A Social Construction? By Michael Ruse. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 1999.
Book Review for Quarterly Review of Biology: Evolution As Natural History: A Philosophical Analysis, By Wim J. van der Steen. Westport (Connecticut): Praeger Publishers, 2000.
Book Review for Quarterly Review of Biology: Life the Communicative Strategy, Gunther Witzany, 2001.
Cladistics: Parsimony, Phylogenetic Inference and Macroevolution

Cladistics, a method of biological taxonomy and phylogenetic inference (the reconstruction of the evolutionary past), achieved prominence in the 1970s and 1980s. Advocates of this method, among them Niles Eldredge and Joel Cracraft, claim that it is methodologically superior to traditional methods. Cladists claim to be using Popper’s falsification model of hypothetico-deductivism, which, it is argued, is superior to the inductivism employed by evolutionary taxonomists. The cladists claim their approach avoids a circularity arising when an evolutionary process theory is used to justify a method of inferring evolutionary history, and the inferred history then trivially confirms the process theory. The methodological arguments remain unresolved, yet cladistic methods have been widely adopted.

I argue that while the methodological arguments fail, there is an empirical justification. Cladists are not Popperian falsificationists, and do not object to traditional approaches on the basis of an inductivist methodology, but instead object to the use of functional analysis in the traditional approaches. The cladists’ objections are grounded in their views about the processes operating at the macroevolutionary level. I also discuss the implications of macroevolutionary theory on the efficacy of evolutionary explanations.
“Are Species Real?” Weber State University, Nov. 8, 2013.
“Are Species Real?” Plenary talk, Alabama Philosophical Society, October 12, 2013.
“Darwin’s Experimentalism,” Montpellier, France, International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, July 8, 2013.
“Are Species Real?” Southern Mississippi University, Department of Philosophy, October 19, 2013.
“Is the Species Problem a Conceptual Problem?” Mississippi State University, Department of Philosophy, April 13, 2012.
“Is the Species Problem a Conceptual Problem?” Bay Area Biosystematics Meeting, University of California at Berkeley, Nov. 15, 2011.
“The Essentialism Myth and the Historical Species Concepts,” Fossil Coffee talk, Museum of Paleontology, University of California at Berkeley, Nov. 15. 2011.
“Against Method: Phylogenetic Inference and the Material Theory of Induction,Fall 2010 Philosophy of Science Association Conference, November 5, 2010 in Montreal.
“Context and Evidence in the History of Science,” 150 Years After the Origin: Biological, Philosophical and Historical Perspectives, University of Toronto (November 2009)
“Subjectivity and Subspecies: Wilson and Mayr on the Trinomial” Edward O. Wilson, A Celebration of his 80th Birthday, Florida State University (June 2009)
“Functional Analysis and Character Transformation,” Keynote talk, Form, Function and Homology, 8th Annual Conference in Philosophy & Biology and the Annual Consortium for the HIstory and Philosophy of Biology, Duke University (May 2009)
“Arnhart’s Explanatory Pluralism,” American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (Boston, August 2008)
“Incorporating Scientific Texts into Honors Courses,” Association for Core Texts and Courses, (Boston 2008)
Werkmeister History and Philosophy of Science Conference, “Species Essentialism: Philosophical Myths and the Philosophy of Science.” (Florida State University 2008)
“Is Ethics a Branch of Biology” Johns Hopkins University (October 2007)
“Commentary on Achinstein’s ‘The War on Induction: Whewell Takes on Mill,’” Johns Hopkins University, War on Induction Conference, Johns Hopkins University (March 2007)
Functional Analysis” – Invited talk to the philosophy department at the University of Georgia, (April 2005).
Functional Analysis and Character Transformation– Conference on Form and Function at Florida State University, sponsored by the Florida State University History and Philosophy of Science program. (March 2005)
Evolutionary Naturalism and the Logical Structure of Valuation” – Workshop on the philosophy and history of biology at Florida State University, (April 2004)
Is Domestic Breeding Evidence For (or Against) Darwinian Evolution” – Conference on Evidence, Johns Hopkins University (April 2003)
Characters In Search of a Principle” - Northwest Philosophy Conference, Oct. 24-26, 2002, Lewis and Clark College.
How Humans Got Ethics: A “Just So” Story?” – Colloquium on evolutionary

ethics, University of Alabama (April 1998)

University of Alabama — Assistant & Associate Professor (1998-2013)

Art and Human Nature – Theories of human nature and the arts from Plato, Aristotle, Hume and Kant to modern evolutionary theories.

Seminar on Scientific Method – Historical introduction to the debates about scientific method from Bacon, Galileo, Descartes and Newton, to the modern philosophical theories: falsificationism, inductivism, hypothetico-deductivism and inference to the best explanation.

Renaissance and Modern Philosophy - History of western philosophy from Galileo, Hobbes and Descartes to Hume and Kant.

Classic American Philosophy – Philosophy in America from Jonathan Edwards and the political philosophers of the American Revolution to classic and contemporary pragmatists from Peirce, James, Dewey, Holmes, Addams and Mead to Putnam, Rorty, and Kuhn.

Critical Reasoning – Analysis of arguments, kinds of ambiguity and vagueness, functions

of definitions, basic probability calculus, decision theory and writing argument papers.

Honors Introduction to Philosophy – Three main philosophical approaches through classics: rationalism in Plato’s Republic and Descartes’ Meditations; empiricism in Hume’s Enquiries; pragmatism in William James’ essays.

Philosophy, Film and the Performing Arts – Varieties of Realism/Antirealism, Cinematic Point of View, Action theory and film semantics, Virtue theory in film.

Introduction to the Philosophy of Science – Demarcation Problem, Scientific Explanation,

Confirmation, Evidence, Scientific Change

Philosophy and Evolution – Darwin and Evolution, Creationism, Evolutionary Theory, Sociobiology, Evolutionary Epistemology and Ethics

Interpreting and Criticizing Art – Principles of understanding and evaluating artworks

Introduction to Aesthetics – The experience of Art, The idea of Art, Interpreting and Evaluating Artworks.

Ancient Philosophy -- Survey and Introduction to the philosophers and philosophical issues of Ancient Greece, beginning with Thales, Pythagoras and the pre-Socratics, but focusing on Plato and Aristotle

Introduction to Deductive Logic – The methods of sentential and predicate logic

Introduction to Philosophy (team taught) – Epistemology section: Theories of justification, theories of truth, scientific method.

Scientific Inquiry- Science versus pseudoscience, Scientific Explanation, Theory and Observation, Confirmation and Acceptance, Scientific progress.

Human Nature- Comprehensive theories of human nature from the religious theories (Confucianism, Hinduism, Old and New Testaments) to the philosophical theories (Plato, Kant and Sartre), and the ‘scientific’ theories (Marx, Freud, Skinner, Chomsky, Darwin, Lorenz and E. O. Wilson).

History of Dance Romanticism and Russian Imperial Ballet

Descartes - Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Principles of Philosophy, World or Treatise on Light, Passions of the Soul.

Blount Undergraduate Initiative Worldviews – Fourth year “Capstone” course. Investigation into the structure and nature of worldviews. Fourth year independent projects designed and executed by each student, along with classroom and Freshman Convocation presentations. Readings from Thomas Kuhn, E. O. Wilson, Steven Pinker, Dostoievesky, and Shakespeare.

Blount Undergraduate Initiative Foundation Course- Year-long interdisciplinary course introducing students in a residential honors program to classic texts that raise fundamental questions about religious belief, the nature of scientific inquiry, epistemic foundations, ethical values and human origins. Readings are drawn from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Galileo, Darwin, Gamow, Genesis, Descartes, Faulkner, Ruth Benedict, W. E. B. Dubois, E. O. Wilson and others.

Advanced Ballet Technique—Technique and style for the advanced dancer.

Inductive Logic-Probability calculus, Bayes Theorem, Interpretations of probability, Mill’s Methods, scientific reasoning.
Johns Hopkins University--Teaching Adjunct (1996)

Philosophy of Science--Scientific method, explanation, and sociology of science.

Johns Hopkins University--Teaching Assistant--Department of Philosophy, (1992-1994, 1996)

Deductive and Inductive Logic--

Truth-functional and quantification logic, probability and decision theory.

Philosophic Classics-- A study of classic texts from Plato, Descartes, Hume and Peirce, on answering philosophical questions naturalistically.

Philosophic Problems -- Determinism, freedom, and moral responsibility; The nature of mind; The grounds of knowledge; The objectivity of morals; The obligation to obey the law; Motives and duties; The existence of God; Perception and knowledge of the physical world.

Philosophic Classics -- Plato, Descartes, Berkeley, Russell and Nietzsche.

Introduction to Film Criticism -- Analysis and criticism of classic films with regard to philosophically significant issues.

Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Ut.) --Teaching Adjunct -- Honors Program (1994-5)

History of Science—A survey of the history of science from the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Greeks to the early 20th century.
Philosophy department undergraduate advisor (2006-2007, 2008-2013)
Blount Undergraduate Initiative Convocations: Introduction to the Foundation Course, Descartes, E. O. Wilson (2005-2007, 2008-2013)
Evolution Working Group: Faculty Committee for the education about evolution (2006-2012)
Social Dance Classes for Kinesiology Department (2009-2013)
Social Dance class for Residential Life – residents of Rose Towers (2010)
Argentine Tango Classes for Discovery Series (2008-2009)
Philosophy Club Advisor (2008-9)
Member University Committee on Undergraduate Programs and Services (2007-9)
Dissertation Committee: Jeremy Carr “The Reformation/Grob Approach Toward a Stereoselective Total Synthesis of Xenic Diterpenoid Natural Products” (2006-2009)
“Cinderella Tango” performance for the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance, Southeast Theatre Conference (2008)
Critical Reasoning classes for Moral Forum (2006)
Blount Undergraduate Initiative Advisory Committee (2005-6)
Member Advisory Board, Tuscaloosa Community Dancers 2004-2014
Argentine Tango Performance for Fundraiser, Jones Valley Urban Farm, Birmingham, AL (September 2010)
Argentine Tango Performance for United Way Fundraiser, University of Alabama (September 2009)
Argentine Tango Performance for Fundraiser, Red Cross, Auburn, AL (June 2009)
Argentine Tango Class at American College Dance Festival, Florida State University (2006)
Argentine Tango Class for Alabama Dance Summit (2006)

Talk on “Evolution” to community group at the Tuscaloosa YMCA, organized by Ralph Quarles (2005)

Faculty Fellow for the University of Alabama Leadership Board (2012-2015)
Nominated for Pursuit of Excellence in Teaching Summit by the Dean of Arts and Sciences (2005)
Nominated for Leadership Board Outstanding Commitment to Students Award by Department Chair (2005)
Blount Undergraduate Initiative Advisory Board
Coordinator and member of the faculty curriculum planning committee for the year-long Freshman Foundation Course.

Coordinator and member of planning committee for the fourth year “capstone” course “Worldviews”.

Housemaster for the Blount Undergraduate Initiative (2000-2005)

University of Alabama Faculty Senate 2002-2004

Faculty Committee for “The Anonymous Endowed Sculpture Fund”
Argentine tango Exhibition and class for Andalusia Ballet fund raiser (2005)
Tango Exhibition Birmingham Ballroom Dance Association (2005)
Tango Exhibition United States Ballroom Dance Association – Montgomery, Al. (2003)
University of Alabama Coordinator for the 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005, American Ballet Theatre

Summer intensives

Master Classes in Dance: American College Dance Festival (Jacksonville University,1999) and Brenau University, 2000)
Master Class: Tuscaloosa Community Dancers (2004)
Choreography: Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre (Resident Dance Company at University of


Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre: Coached and set Don Quixote Pas de Deux (2003), White Swan Pas de Deux (2004), Swan Lake Pas de Trois, Raymonda Pas de Deux, Le Corsaire Pas de Deux (2003)
Anderson Society: Awarded an honorary induction into the student honors group for teaching and service.
Dance Educator of the Year, Arts Council of Tuscaloosa, 2002
Board Member and Master Teacher: Tuscaloosa Community Dancer

Assistant Director of the Blount Undergraduate Initiative – 2010-2014
Coordinator of faculty curriculum planning committees: Blount Undergraduate Initiative, an

interdisciplinary honors-type program

Freshman Foundation Course

Senior Worldviews Course
University of Alabama Director: American Ballet Theatre Summer Dance Intensive

(2000-2008) A three-week residential program with 170 dancers, six ABT faculty, accompanists and chaperones, with performances of repertoire and original choreography.

Argentine Tango: (2004-2012) Performing and teaching Argentine Tango.
Professional Ballet Dancer: (1981-1994) Royal Ballet of Flanders, Norwegian National Ballet, Ballet West, and Pacific Ballet Theatre. Competed on the American team at the 1986 International Ballet Competition at Varna, Bulgaria
Ballet Teacher: University of Alabama (1997-1999, 2004-6) Towson State University (1997) Utah State University (1989, 1992-3, 1995) Metropolitan Ballet Theatre (1991-94) Sacramento Ballet (1989) University of Utah (1996) Ballet Coach, The Next Ice Age (1997)
Artist: Artist in Residence, Yosemite National Park (1989-90). Paintings exhibited in Stockholm,

Sweden, Arts-in-Embassies program (1984-8), Yosemite Museum, private galleries, and held in

private collections in San Francisco, Washington D.C., Miami, Houston, Portland, and Salt Lake City.

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