Jeff Buechner

Jeff Buechner


buechner [at]



Office Location

432 Conklin Hall


Mailing Address:

Department of Philosophy

Conklin Hall 

175 University Avenue

Newark, NJ  07102


Courses Taught

Dr. Jeff Buechner teaches critical thinking and has developed several new methods to facilitate learning the basic ideas involved in critically assessing arguments. He wrote a critical thinking textbook, Ways of Reasoning: Tools and Methods for Thinking Outside the Box, (Hansen Publishing Group, 11th edition, 2009, 411pp) which he uses in his critical thinking classes. He is working on a simulation technology--a 3-dimensional virtual reality learning environment--for critical thinking. 
In Fall, 2004 The Writing Program (in the English department) and the Philosophy Department conducted an experiment that Buechner designed to answer the question: are critical thinking skills necessary for acquiring effective writing skills. The results: 85% of the students got B or better, and 65% got A, in freshman composition (where the norm is: 65% get C or worse). In summer, 2004, he taught critical thinking at Princeton University to gifted African-American and Latino-American high-school students as part of the W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Institute Sixteenth Annual Summer Program. Since 2006, he has been Director, Rutgers-Merck Summer Bioethics Institute, a residential program for gifted high-school students from the Newark area that introduces participants to ethical issues in new biotechnologies, such as those emerging from synthetic biology and nanotechnology.

Research Initiatives

Dr. Jeff Buechner received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University (New Brunswick), the top department in the world for philosophy of mind. He works primarily in the philosophy of mind and psychology, but explores connections between these areas and mathematics and computer science. In particular, he is interested in how results in computational complexity theory can be used in adjudicating issues in the philosophy of mind. His book Gödel, Putnam and Functionalism (MIT Press, 2008, 345pp) is a defense of cognitive science against Hilary Putnam's well-known attacks upon it.
He is currently working on the epistemology of mathematical proof, the question of whether mental properties emerge from physical properties (and what the concept of emergence consists in), the philosophical foundations of complex systems-governments, neural networks, economies, biochemical models (such as protein folding), families, world ecosystems, whether semantical properties can be defined computationally and the frame problem-a philosophical problem about how we can acquire knowledge about the world in real time-its logic and its connection with developmental psychology. He spent three years (1998-2001) assembling and archiving Saul Kripke’s unpublished manuscripts: 12,000+ pages spanning 110 documents.


Ph.D., Rutgers

B.A. Columbia


1. "Are the Gödel Incompleteness Theorems Mathematical Limitative Results for the Neurosciences?" Journal of Biological Physics 36 (2010), 23-44. Special issue on Boundaries of Brain Information Processing.

2. "Not Even Computing Machines Can Follow Rules: Kripke's Critique of Functionalism" in Saul Kripke, Alan Berger (ed.), Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 343-367.

3. "Artificial Moral Agents: Saviors or Destroyers?" Essay review of Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong, Ethics and Information Technology, 13 (2010), 87-95. Special issue on Robot Ethics and Human Ethics.

4. "Are there forms of rationality unique to a family that can justify the concept of 'family values'?", in The Ethics of the Family, Stephen Scales, Adam Potthast, and Linda Oravecz (eds.), Cambrdige Scholars Press, 2010, pp. 229-263.

5. "Trust and Multi-Agent Systems: Applying the 'Diffuse, Default Model' of Trust to Experiments Involving Artificial Agents," co-authored with Herman Tavani, Ethics and Information Technology, 13 #1 (2011), 39-51. Special issue on e-Trust.

6. "How Molecular Biology Illuminates 3 Problems of Epistemological Scepticism," in Science and the Humanities: A New Synthesis, Lisa Dolling (ed.), Jensen/Daniels Publishing, 2010, 211-232.

 "Trust, Privacy, and Frame Problems in Social And Business E-Networks, Part 1," Information, 2 (2011), pp. 166-187. Special issue: Trust and Privacy in Our Networked World

2. "Authentic Civic Participation Requires Critical Thinking Methods That Work," in Civility in Politics and Education, Deborah Mower and Wade Robison (eds.), Routledge Publishing Company, Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, pp. 221-239, 2012.

3. "Fictional Entities and Augmented Reality: A Metaphysical Impossibility Result," Journal of Evolution and Technology, 23(2), November, 2011, pp. 34-61, Special issue on Augmented Reality.

4. "Trust, Frame Problems, and Resource Conservation--A Surprising Connection," in Jeremy J. Mauger (ed.), Crossing Boundaries: Ethics in Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Relations: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Computer Ethics - Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE 2011). University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2011, pp. 27-36.