Dr. Stephen D. Petersen

Dr. Stephen D. Petersen

Associate Professor

(716) 286-8638
Office Location:
Dunleavy Hall Room 355


Dr. Petersen joined the philosophy department in 2006, after a postdoctoral position at Kalamazoo College.  He received his PhD from the University of Michigan.  His specialties are in the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and the philosophical aspects of cognitive science.  Related areas of interest include logic, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of language.  Dr. Petersen teaches Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Epistemology, the Philosophy of Mind, the Philosophy of Language, the Philosophy of Science, and Metaphysics.

Current Research

My research centers on a strongly naturalistic approach to good thinking. How can physical creatures - biological or artificial - think better? This involves issues in normative epistemology (what is it to think better?), philosophy of mind (what is it for a physical system to think in the first place?), and cognitive science (how do we humans manage to think well much of the time, and how might we teach machines to do it?). I also study related topics such as inference to the best explanation, formal models of simplicity, information theory, conceptual analysis, and the emotions.

Educational Background

PhD, University of Michigan, Philosophy AB, Harvard University, Philosophy and mathematics

Current Involvement

I'm also an actor; I have performed in Shakespeare in Delaware Park, and improvisational theater both here and in Toronto. I'm on NU's Green Committee, and contribute to charities for relieving poverty internationally.