Cristina Bicchieri

Cristina Bicchieri
  • Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics

Contact Information


Past Courses


    This course is about the foundations of contemporary social science. It focuses on the nature of social systems, the similarities and differences between social and natural sciences, the construction, analysis, and confirmation of social theories, and the nature of social explanations. Specific topics may include: What are social norms and conventions? What does it mean to have one gender rather than another, or one sexual orientation rather than another? Should social systems be studied quantitatively or qualitatively?


    This majors seminar will cover selected topics in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, or philosophy of language. Topics will vary from term to term.


    For the last four centuries, scientific research has provided our most reliable understanding of the world. Although the scientific revolution started modestly with attempts to understand stellar movement, we now know the age and constitution of the universe, the basis of heredity, and we can make and break chemical bonds at will. By all appearances, science seems to have made substantial progress from the scientific revolution to the global scientific enterprise of the 21st centry. This course is about how science has generated this knowledge, and whether it has been as progressive and reliable as it seems. We will consider methodological issues such as the sources of scientific knowledge, objectivity, the growing importance of computation in the natural sciences, and the nature of modeling. We will examine products of scientific research: explanations, models, theories, and laws of nature. And we will discuss questions about science and values, including whether non-scientific values can and should enter scientific research, the relationship between science and religion, and the role of the public in guiding the scientific enterprise.


    This is a graduate research seminar covering interdisciplinary research in psychology, philosophy, sociology and behavioral economics related to social norms. Social norms are informal institutions that regulate social life. We will devote particular attention to the following questions: 1. What is a good, operational definition of social norms? 2. Is there a difference between social and moral norms? 3. How can we measure whether a norm exits, and the conditions under which individuals are likely to comply with it? 4. Are behavioral experiments a good tool to answer questions 3? 5. How do norms emerge? 6. How are norms abandoned? 7. What is the role of trendsetters in norm dynamics?


    This class will be dedicated to investigating topics related to rationality in its many forms. Potential areas of study are metaethics, epistemology, moral psychology, and the philosophies of mind, language and action. UNDERGRADUATES NEED PERMISSION.


    During the last dozen years there has been an explosion of interest in empirically informed moral psychology. In this seminar, we will review some of the cutting empirical and theoretical work that is being done in moral psychology and explore its philosophical implications. About half o the sessions of the seminar will be led by Professor Bicchieri, Professor Harman or Professor Stitch. The other half will be led by leading philosophers and scientists from other departments and other universities.


    Directed readings in consultation with individual faculty members.


What Really Helps Employees to Improve (It’s not Criticism)

Author Marcus Buckingham defied much of HR’s accepted wisdom in his keynote at the recent Wharton People Analytics Conference.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/05/16
Late Bloomers: Why Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Journalist and self-described late bloomer Rich Karlgaard rejects societal pressure to achieve success at an early age, saying there’s plenty of scientific evidence that many people find their talents later in life.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/05/16
Empowering the Developing World, One Bicycle at a Time

World Bicycle Relief, a nonprofit organization that builds and distributes bicycles in rural areas of the developing world, is the 2019 winner of the Lipman Prize.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/05/16