Ian Hacking: Wikis

  
  

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Ian Hacking
Full name Ian Hacking
Born February 18, 1936 (1936-02-18) (age 74)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Era 20th century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School analytic philosophy
Main interests philosophy of science
philosophy of statistics

Ian Hacking, CC, FRSC, FBA (born February 18, 1936) is a Canadian philosopher, specializing in the philosophy of science.

Contents

Life and works

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, he has undergraduate degrees from the University of British Columbia (1956) and the University of Cambridge (1958), where he was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge. Hacking also took his Ph.D. at Cambridge (1962), under the direction of Casimir Lewy, a former student of Wittgenstein's.

He taught at UBC in Canada as an Assistant Professor, then an Associate Professor, spending some time teaching at the Makerere University in Uganda. He became a lecturer at Cambridge in 1969 before shifting to Stanford in 1974. After teaching for several years at Stanford University, he spent a year at the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Germany (1982–1983). He became Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto in 1983 and University Professor (the highest honour the University of Toronto bestows on faculty) in 1991. From 2000 to 2006, he held the Chair of Philosophy and History of Scientific Concepts at the Collège de France.

Hacking is known for bringing a historical approach to the philosophy of science and is sometimes described as one of the important members of the "Stanford School" in philosophy of science, a group that also included John Dupré, Nancy Cartwright and Peter Galison. He himself still identifies as a Cambridge analytic philosopher. Hacking defended a realism about science, "entity realism", albeit only on pragmatic grounds: the electron is real because human beings use it to make things happen. This form of realism encourages a realistic stance towards the entities postulated by mature sciences but skepticism towards scientific laws. In his later work (from 1990 onward), his focus has shifted from the physical sciences to psychology, partly under the influence of the work of Michel Foucault. Foucault was an influence as early as The Emergence of Probability (1975), in which Hacking proposed that the modern schism between subjective or personalist probability, and the long-run frequency interpretation, emerged in the early modern era as an epistemological "break" involving two incompatible models of uncertainty and chance. Foucault's approach to knowledge systems and power is also reflected in Hacking's work on the historical mutability of psychiatric disorders and institutional roles for statistical reasoning in the 19th century.

In Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory, by developing a historical ontology of Multiple Personality Disorder, Hacking provides a discussion of how people are constituted by the descriptions of acts available to them. (see Acting under a description).

In Mad Travelers (1998) he documented the fleeting appearance in the 1890s of a fugue state in which European men would walk in a trance for hundreds of miles without knowledge of their identities.

In 2002, he was awarded the first Killam Prize for the Humanities, Canada's most distinguished award for outstanding career achievements. In 2004, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Hacking was appointed visiting professor at University of California, Santa Cruz for the Winters of 2008 and 2009. On August 25, 2009 Hacking was named winner of the Holberg International Memorial Prize, a Norwegian award for scholarly work in the arts and humanities, social sciences, law and theology.[1] Hacking was chosen for his work on how statistics and the theory of probability have shaped society. In 2010, he will give the René Descartes Lectures at the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS).

Selected works

Hacking's works have been translated into several languages.

  • The Logic of Statistical Inference (1965)
  • The Emergence of Probability (1975)
  • Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy? (1975)
  • Representing and Intervening, Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1983.
  • The Taming of Chance (1990)
  • Scientific Revolutions (1990)
  • Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory (1995)
  • Mad Travellers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illness (1998)
  • The Social Construction of What? (1999)
  • An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic (2001)
  • Historical Ontology (2002)

References

  1. ^ "From autism to determinism, science to the soul, Norway rewards Candian philosopher for his curiosity", Toronto Globe and Mail, August 26, 2009, pp.1,7
  • Hacking, Ian (September 1988). "Telepathy: Origins of Randomization in Experimental Design". Isis (A Special Issue on Artifact and Experiment) 79 (3): pp. 427–451. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Ian Hacking (born 1936-02-18 in Vancouver) is a Canadian philosopher specializing in philosophy of science. He became a lecturer at Cambridge in 1969, and shifted to Stanford in 1974 to teach in behavioural science. After teaching for several years there and briefly in Germany (1982-1983), he became a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto in 1983 and a full university professor there in 1991.

He was a member of the "Stanford School" in philosophy of science that included John Dupre, Nancy Cartwright, and Peter Galison. In his later work since 1990, his focus has shifted from the physical sciences to psychology, partly influenced by Michel Foucault as evidenced as early as The Emergence of Probability (1975).

In 2002, he was awarded the first Killam Prize for the Humanities, Canada's most distinguished award for outstanding career achievements. In 2004, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy? (1975)

  • To conclude: there are two well-known minor ways in which language has mattered to philosophy. On the one hand there is a belief that if only we produce good defintions, often marking out different senses of words that are confused in commom speech, we will avoid the conceptual traps that ensnared our forefathers. On the other hand is a belief that if only we attend sufficiently closely to our mother tongue and make explicit the distinctions there implicit, we shall avoid the conceptual traps. One or the other of these curiously contrary beliefs may nowadays be most often thought of as an answer to the question Why does language matter to philosophy? Neither seems to me enough.
    • Page 7.

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