The Holberg International Memorial Prize for 2009 for outstanding scholarly work in the arts and humanities, social sciences, law and theology has been awarded to Ian Hacking.
Ian Hacking (born in 1936 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) is one of the world’s leading scholars in the fields of philosophy and history of science. He has made important contributions to areas as diverse as the philosophy and history of physics; the understanding of the concept of probability; the philosophy of language; and the philosophy and history of psychology and psychiatry. In spite of this diversity there is one regulative idea that pervades all his work: Science is a human enterprise. It is always created in a historical situation, and to understand why present science is as it is, it is not sufficient to know that it is “true”, or confirmed. We have to know the historical context of its emergence.
The award citation expands on what it was that caught the committee’s specific attention.
His combination of rigorous philosophical and historical analysis has profoundly altered our understanding of the ways in which key concepts emerge through scientific practices and in specific social and institutional contexts. His work lays bare the normative and social implications of the natural and the social sciences.
The €500,000 prize, which is awarded annually, was established by the Norwegian Parliament in 2003. Past recipients include Julia Kristeva and Jürgen Habermas. Nominations for the 2010 award, which can be submitted online, must be received by 12 October 2009.
A recent interview with Hacking can be found here; an updated biography here.