Lauener Foundation for Analytical Philosophy

Wednesday 05 September 2018,
Bern, Switzerland

Awardee of the Lauener Prize for an Outstanding Oeuvre in Analytical Philosophy
Prizewinner 2018 Professor Bas van Fraassen

Professor Bas van Fraassen

(Princeton University)
(San Francisco State University)

Awardee of the Lauener Prize for an Outstanding Oeuvre in Analytical Philosophy

The eighth recipient of the Lauener Prize for an Outstanding Oeuvre in Analytical Philosophy is Bas van Fraassen, McCosh Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus at Princeton University and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University. The Lauener Prize is given for van Fraassen's body of philosophical work.

Professor Bas van Fraassen is a leading exponent of contemporary philosophical logic and philosophy of science (i. a. of quantum mechanics). For many decades he has done ground-breaking work by refining his novel type of antirealist, empiricist stance in philosophy of science, situating this cogent "constructive empiricism" within his general "epistemic voluntarism". His perspicacious awareness of epistemic problems is reflected in his policy for inquirers to believe only the empirical adequacy of generally accepted scientific theories, but neither to believe nor to disbelieve their metaphysical adequacy, and thus to adopt an agnostic attitude towards claims about the existence of, e.g., subatomic particles (over and above motions within particle accelerators); nonetheless, according to his pragmatic, voluntarist epistemology, coherent scientific realist beliefs in unobservable entities like electrons are not irrational, yet supererogatory. Van Fraassen's pioneering works have given fresh impetus to the discussion of significant problems, such as the differentiation between observation and detection; the clarification of the interrelation between theories, scientific models and represented aspects of "the" world; the role of theoretical virtues, such as simplicity, in theory choice; the pragmatic aspects of scientific explanation; the distinction between different forms of inquiry in the sciences, humanities, art, literature and religion. What's more, van Fraassen's stimulating response to analytic philosophy as he found it has shaped ongoing philosophical debates about, e.g., the actual aims and practices of science; the nature of laws; the role of symmetry arguments in science; Bayesian probabilistic explications of abduction and, generally, the epistemic or methodological status of the practice of explanatory reasoning in justifying hypotheses; identity and individuation in quantum mechanics; the representation relation between theoretical models and contents of measurement outcomes (i. e. data models for certain phenomena).

Professor Bas                               van Fraassen

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