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May 2011


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"Roberta L. Millstein" <[log in to unmask]>
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Roberta L. Millstein
Wed, 25 May 2011 08:50:13 -0700
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2011 Marjorie Grene Prize

The Marjorie Grene Prize Committee received a total of eleven 
submissions for the 2011 prize.  All submissions were of superb 
quality, with over half already published or accepted for 
publication.  Once again the committee was reminded of the creativity 
and talent of the more junior members of ISHPSSB, as well as the 
breadth of expertise that defines our society.

Angela Potochnik, currently assistant professor in the Department of 
Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati, is the recipient of the 
2011 Marjorie Grene Prize for the best manuscript based on a 
presentation at one of the two previous ISHPSSB meetings by someone 
who was, at the time of presentation, a graduate student.  Her 
submission, "Explanatory Independence and Epistemic Interdependence: 
A Case Study of the Optimality Approach" is an important contribution 
to our understanding of modelling strategies in science.  In a 
well-argued and precise analysis, Potochnik explores the pursuit of 
optimality models in evolutionary and behavioural ecology, the 
criticisms that have been levelled against them, and the reasons for 
the persistence of such models. Arguing that optimality models have 
value as evolutionary explanations, Potochnik shows that such models 
have explanatory independence: they neglect certain aspects of the 
evolutionary process such as genetic transmission.  At the same time, 
however, the applicability of such optimality models must be 
evaluated by looking beyond the dynamics represented by them--thus 
they are epistemically dependent on other models.  Potochnik draws 
broad conclusions about the tension between these two features, and 
her paper is an original contribution to philosophical discussions 
about the roles of modelling in science, the nature of scientific 
explanation, and the constraints and complexities of scientific 

Tara Abraham (Chair), on behalf of the rest of the Grene Prize Committee:
Gillian Barker, Kevin Elliott, Marta Halina, Greg Radick, Adam 
Shapiro, and V. Betty Smocovitis

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Professor Roberta L. Millstein
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