Academic Year 2011-2012
Richard N. Boyd has had a long and distinguished career as a member of the faculty at Cornell University, where he is the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Science and Technology Studies. He is well known for his work in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and ethics -- particularly on moral realism. Boyd became interested in the philosophy of science while an undergraduate mathematics major at MIT, where he later earned a Ph.D. in philosophy with a dissertation in mathematical logic.
His original interests in foundational issues in philosophy of science have expanded to include interests in metaphysics (especially the metaphysics of kinds and categories - like biological species and chemical compounds - and of causation), in epistemology (especially in competing notions of rationality and objectivity), in philosophy of biology (especially in issues about the foundations of biological taxonomy and about methods in sociobiology), in philosophy of mind and language and in the foundations of ethics. He presented a lecture at the Athenaeum on “Evolutionary Theory as Methodological Anesthesia: Methodological Philosophical Lessons from ‘Evolutionary Psychology.’”
Ian Frazier is a nonfiction writer and humorist who combines first-person narrative to capture contemporary life and travel narratives that explore American history and geography, especially the American West. As a staff writer for The New Yorker for 21 years, Frazier wrote feature articles, humorous sketches, and was a frequent contributor to the magazine's “Talk of the Town” section. In 1982, he left Manhattan for Montana, where he began the research for Great Plains (1989), a journey of more than 25,000 miles through the American West. Frazier returned to the West for On the Rez (2000), an account of the friendships Frazier made in his travels. Family (1994) is the story of Frazier's own lineage, as well as a chronicle of 19th- and 20th-century American history. Frazier's humor essays have been published in Dating Your Mom (1986) and Coyote v. Acme (1996). His most recent book, Gone to New York: Adventures in the City (2005) is a collection of essays about his relationship with the city itself.
While attending Harvard University he was on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon. He was later published in Harper’s, The Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines. He has contributed essays for many books, translated a book, written on the crafts of travel writing and journalism, and served as editor for The Best American Essays (1997). He gave two Athenaeum talks titled “An Evening with the Author” and “Friendship, Literature, and Life.”