Philip Kitcher, a world-known philosopher and a professor of philosophy, received his Honoris professor diploma on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the University of Rijeka Rectorate, where he was welcomed by the University of Rijeka Rector, Professor Snježana Prijić Samaržija, Ph.D. Professor Kitcher officially became the honorary professor (Honoris professor) of the University of Rijeka on May 18, 2023, as part of a solemn session of the University of Rijeka Senate during the 50th Dies Academicus.
Upon receiving his diploma, he held a lecture on the topic of progress in sciences and arts. In a room full of philosophers – both students and professors – Professor Kitcher tried to challenge the common view that the sciences make progress, while the arts do not. In his opinion, first step is to distinguish teleological progress from pragmatic progress. One makes pragmatic progress not by coming closer to a goal, but by solving some of the problems of their current state. Scientific progress should be seen as pragmatic. When the point is recognized, it becomes evident that scientific progress has social dimensions. A socially embedded notion of scientific progress then allows for a parallel concept of progress applicable to the arts.
Philip Kitcher worked as a professor of philosophy at Columbia University from 1998 to 2020, after which he received the honorary title of John Dewey Professor Emeritus of Philosophy in 2020. His areas of interest include pragmatism (especially Dewey), science and social issues, naturalistic ethics, philosophy in literature, the evolution of altruism and morality, and the apparent conflict between science and religion. In the world of philosophy, he is best known for his revolutionary ideas of moral progress.