Ruth Millikan Wins 2017 Schock Prize

Ruth Millikan, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, is the winner of the 2017 Rolf Shock Prize in Logic and Philosophy. The prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (the same organization that awards the Nobel prizes), is 500,000 Swedish krona, or approximately $55,000.

Professor Millikan received the award “for her groundbreaking theories about biological functions and the biological foundations of thought and language, where the representational properties of the latter are explained in terms of these functions,” according the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. They write:

Ruth Millikan was awarded her doctorate in philosophy by Yale University in 1969, a time when very few women chose to be philosophers. She started her career working part-time at the University of Connecticut and, in these early years, laid the foundations of her ground-breaking research into biological functions and mental representation. Her most influential book, Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories (popularly called LTOBC), was published in 1984 and changed the philosophical landscape in several areas: in the philosophy of biology, in the philosophy of language and mind, and in epistemology. So far, it is the most thorough attempt to provide a naturalistic account of the human ability to represent our surroundings in language and in thought, and is the basis of a major contemporary field of research: teleosemantics. Her starting point is that since human beings are the product of evolution so must their cognitive capacities be.

There are Shock Prizes in other categories besides logic and philosophy. This year’s other award winners are Richard Schoen in Mathematics, Doris Salcedo in Visual Art, and Wayne Shorter for Musical Arts.

Recently, Professor Millikan won the 2017 Rescher Prize.

(via Kathrin Glüer-Pagin)

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7 years ago

A longer (3 page) version of the press release goes into more detail about Ruth’s work and is available here: