Lakatos Award 2019: de Regt

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Lakatos Award, which goes to Henk W. de Regt for his book Understanding Scientific Understanding (Oxford University Press, 2017).

The Lakatos Award is given for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, broadly construed, in the form of a book published in English during the previous five years. The Lakatos Award was made possible by a generous endowment from the Latsis Foundation, in memory of the former LSE professor Imre Lakatos. It is administered by an international Management Committee, which is organised from the LSE but entirely independent of LSE’s Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method. The Committee decides the outcome of the Award competition on the basis of advice from an anonymous panel of Selectors who produce detailed reports on the shortlisted books.

The Award lecture and ceremony will take place in the autumn, at a time and location to be confirmed later. The lecture will be open to the public.

Understanding Scientific Understanding is praised by the Selectors as “a remarkable book”. It is “a long anticipated book that does important work reframing our own philosophical aims and norms of intelligibility”. De Regt’s work is “is a magnificent example of how history and philosophy of science can be productively integrated”, making its point through historical case studies that are “scholarly and insightful”. The book is “a serious, carefully argued work, on a neglected but important topic in the philosophy of science”.

Nominations are invited for the 2020 Lakatos Award, with a strict deadline of Sunday 1 September 2019. The 2020 award will be for a book published in English with an imprint from 2014 to 2019 (inclusive). Any person of recognised standing within the philosophy of science or an allied field may nominate a book. Self-nominations are not allowed.

Please address nominations, or any requests for further information, to the Award Administrator, Tom Hinrichsen, at t.a.hinrichsen@lse.ac.uk.

Imre Lakatos, who died in 1974 aged 51, had been Professor of Logic with special reference to the Philosophy of Mathematics at the LSE since 1969. He joined the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method in 1960. Born in Hungary in 1922, he graduated (in Physics, Mathematics and Philosophy) from Debrecen University in 1944. He then joined the underground resistance. (His mother and grandmother perished in Auschwitz.) After the War, he was active in the Communist Party and had an influential position in the Ministry of Education. In 1950 he was arrested and spent the next three years as a political prisoner. After his release, he was given refuge in the Hungarian Academy of Science where he translated western works in science and mathematics into Hungarian. After the suppression of the Hungarian uprising he escaped to Vienna and from there, with the aid of a Rockefeller fellowship, on to Cambridge, England. He there wrote his (second) doctoral thesis out of which grew his famous Proofs and Refutations (CUP, 1976, edited by John Worrall and Elie Zahar). Two volumes of Philosophical Papers, edited by John Worrall and Gregory Currie, appeared in 1978, also from CUP.

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