Biography

Ernan McMullin was a philosopher who last served as the O’Hara Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame.

He was an internationally-respected philosopher of science who has written and lectured extensively on subjects ranging from the relationship between cosmology and theology, to the role of values in understanding science, to the impact of Darwinism on Western religious thought. He was an expert on the life of Galileo. McMullin was educated at Maynooth College in Ireland, where he received an undergraduate degree in physics and a Bachelor of Divinity degree in theology. In 1949, he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest.

McMullin went on to study theoretical physics on a fellowship at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. He earned a PhD in philosophy at the University of Leuven.

McMullin Notre Dame faculty as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy, eventually becoming a full professor and was named to the John Cardinal O’Hara Chair. He chaired the Notre Dame Department of Philosophy for seven years. He was a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, the University of Cape Town, the University of California at Los Angeles, Princeton University, and Yale University. A former Phi Beta Kappa National Lecturer, he delivered the Cardinal Mercier Lecturer at the (Flemish) University of Leuven in 1995 and the Reynolds Lecture at Baylor University in 2005. In addition, he served as president of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the Metaphysical Society of America (1974), the Philosophy of Science Association, and the Western Division of the American Philosophical Association, as chair of the History and Philosophy of Science Section of the AAAS, as a member of the executive committees of the History of Science Society, the Council for Philosophical Studies, and the Society of Christian Philosophers, and as a member of numerous scholarly and scientific committees, congresses, and panels. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Academy of the History of Science, and the AAAS, he was an honorary fellow of St. Edmund's College, Cambridge, and was awarded honorary degrees by the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, Loyola University (Chicago), Stonehill College, and University of Notre Dame.

Among other honors, he won the Aquinas Medal of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the Centennial Medal of John Carroll University, the Founder’s Medal of the Metaphysical Society of America, and two Notre Dame faculty awards.

McMullin served on the editorial boards of a dozen academic journals and encyclopedia. At the time of his death he was a member of the editorial boards of Perspectives on Science, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, and International Philosophical Studies.