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The International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of
Biology is pleased to announce that the 2013 David L. Hull Prize is awarded
to William C. Wimsatt, Winton Professor of Liberal Arts, University of
Minnesota and Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Philosophy and Evolutionary
Biology (Emeritus), University of Chicago.




The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies
of Biology awards the David L. Hull Prize biennially to honor the life and
legacy of David L. Hull (1935-2010). It is awarded to an individual who has
made extraordinary contributions to scholarship and service in ways that
promote interdisciplinary connections between history, philosophy, social
studies, and biology and that foster the careers of younger scholars. These
are strengths that reflect the contributions of David Hull to our
professions and to our society.

The inaugural recipient of the David L. Hull prize in 2011 was William B.
Provine, the Andrew H. and James L. Tisch Distinguished University
Professor at Cornell University. The 2013 recipient is William C. Wimsatt,
Winton Professor in the College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota,
and a fellow of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science. Wimsatt is
also the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Philosophy and Evolutionary Biology
(Emeritus) at the University of Chicago, to which he has devoted most of
his career since starting as a post-doc in 1969-70 with Richard Lewontin
and Richard Levins and then as an assistant professor in 1971.

Bill Wimsatt’s creative research, generous mentorship of young scholars,
innovative teaching, and broad ambassadorship for interdisciplinarity in
general and philosophy of biology in particular exemplify the values of our
society and of David L. Hull. Like David Hull, Bill Wimsatt is equally
regarded as a philosopher and as a theoretical biologist. In 1977, Bill was
a faculty member in the Council for Philosophical Studies Summer Institute
on "Biological and Social Perspectives on Human Nature" in Colorado, where
the first stirrings began that led to ISHPSSB. He has been an active part
of ISHPSSB since its founding.

Wimsatt was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science in 2006 and has served on, and chaired, the
nominating committee of Section L. He has served on program committees for
the Philosophy of Science Association and the American Philosophical
Association. He has served as a member of the governing boards for the
Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the Philosophy of Science
Association. He has given over 400 invited lectures, seminars, and
workshops at professional meetings, special institutes, and universities in
the US, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Australia, China, England, Belgium,
Holland, Italy, Spain, France, Israel, Turkey, Austria, and Germany to
audiences of philosophers, historians, scientists, and computer users.

Bill Wimsatt is, in the words of one nominator, “the storm in the eye of
the calm,” productively stirring, mixing, and blending up ideas, methods,
and fields. His “signature contribution, " the nominator continued, "was
never to trash the ideas of others, but to find what was interesting,
novel, or otherwise merit-worthy, and suggest several ways that they might
be developed further or connected with other ideas that their author might
not be aware of.” Bill’s inquisitiveness and drive to understand has made
him a superb ambassador of interdisciplinarity, within ISHPSSB and to the
many specialties in which he participates, from cognitive psychology,
evolutionary anthropology, and the ISHPSSB specialties of history,
philosophy and social studies of biology, to other specialties, such as
philosophy of mind, general philosophy of science, and analytic philosophy
more generally.

Wimsatt’s teaching and university service have been both broad and
innovative, spanning three of the four divisions at the University of
Chicago: humanities, biology, and social sciences. His appointments list at
Chicago reads like a campus-wide web page: Department of Philosophy,
Biology Collegiate Division, Committee on Conceptual Foundations of
Science, Program in History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science,
Committee on Evolutionary Biology, M. A. Program in the Social Sciences,
and the Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine.

Wimsatt’s courses have been wide-ranging: from Philosophy of Biology and
Philosophy of the Social Sciences; to Genetics in an Evolutionary
Perspective; Biological and Cultural Evolution; Scientific and
Technological Change; Boundaries, Modules, & Levels; and Philosophy of Mind
and Science Fiction. He has directed over 40 dissertations and served as a
reader on over 60. He has been an external examiner of 5 more and has
supervised 3 post-doctoral researchers. He received the Burlington-Northern
Foundation award for outstanding graduate teaching. He has trained many
philosophers of biology now active in the field.

Perhaps his most important innovations in teaching include introducing
computational modeling into philosophy courses. He hacked programmable HP
calculators to allow them to do more interesting stuff than HP thought they
should. He and his students developed innovative teaching software for
model-building and biological modeling, which won an EDUCOM Distinguished
Natural Sciences Curriculum Innovation Award as part of John Jungck’s
project BioQUEST. Wimsatt also received grants from the Annenberg
Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple for his work on modeling in the
curriculum. More recently, Wimsatt developed the Big Problems Curricular
Initiative at the University of Chicago, for which he received an Arthur
Vining Davis Foundation grant.

A hallmark of Wimsatt’s teaching is, as one nominator put it, “that he
never set out to teach his students. He was most excited about learning
from them … for Bill, learning from his students was a source of joy,
excitement and some of his own best ideas. This certainly holds for his
graduate students — but it was also true of undergraduates, post-docs, and
really any young (or not so young) scholar who had the good fortune to
cross Bill's path.” Bill teaches by mentoring and mentors by engaging
everyone around him as colleagues, fellow travelers, and co-discoverers.

Bill Wimsatt excels at breaking down barriers among specialties. One
nominator wrote that he didn’t think Bill “ever saw disciplinary *boundaries
* at all. His work speaks to his deep engagement with the practice of
biology, and I think it is only in recent years that we recognize how
profound and ahead of its time his core work is and was.” Bill is an
integrator who is interested in pretty much everything, who will talk to
anyone in any specialty about pretty much anything, and who takes as much
interest in reading and promoting novices and students as in the work of
very senior folk with track records and distinguished positions. Bill
manages to find time to read, understand, and *metabolize* new work by
young scholars. Bill’s constant promotion of the ideas of others has
connected many of us to wider worlds of scholarship than we otherwise might
have experienced and pitched the importance of our work to others in ways
we could not have imagined, nor expected. One nominator wrote that Bill has
“been one of the most significant mentors I have had the great pleasure to
have known. He was not my adviser. Nor was he on my committee. He has
simply always been around.” Bill has fostered a style of working that is an
integrative, cooperative, and humble philosophical approach open to
historical and social studies of science and deeply informed by the biology.

One nominator summed up Bill’s mentoring service to the community in an
analogy: “In graph theory, certain nodes in a network [are] hubs.”  Hub is
an apt term expressive of Wimsatt’s character. The nominator continues:
hubs “have a lot of connections with nodes in diverse groups. Wimsatt is a
hub, connecting biology with its history, with its philosophy, with
engineering, with cognitive science, and with social science."

Wimsatt’s research of over forty years has been central to the growth and
development of the philosophy of biology, has had important influence on
social and historical studies of biology, and has helped to open and
maintain important connections with the work of evolutionary biologists.
Many of his students have gone on to make significant contributions of
their own, broadening and deepening his impact in the field. His major
contributions include characterization and conceptual tools for
understanding complex functional systems and levels of organization,
studies of heuristics and their role in scientific work, an account of
reductionistic research strategies, the role of robustness and false
models, generative entrenchment as a major factor of evolution, history of
classical genetics, studies of cultural evolution, and studies of
visualization and the role of diagrams in the development of modern
biology. Wimsatt is a leading figure in the development of the philosophy
of biology as a fruitful specialty interacting freely and productively with
other specialties.

Wimsatt pioneered the style of philosophy of biology in which close
philosophical investigation is linked with attention to the development and
use of concepts in empirical and theoretical scientific practice. In the
1970s, Wimsatt showed how teleological language and reductionism could be
understood as parts of respectable empirical practices of investigating
complex functional systems. In the 1980s, he linked the investigation of
units of selection to a rich understanding of levels of organization in
complex biological systems and the deep connection between heuristic
research strategies and the organization of adaptive systems.

Also in the 1980s, he began to articulate his well-known “engineering”
philosophy of scientific practice, in which deliberately false models are
made to be broken. Understanding, he argued, derives as much from studying
how things fail systematically as how they work. In the late 1980s and
1990s, he added generative entrenchment to the fundamental principles of
Darwinian evolution for complex adaptive systems and also spearheaded
philosophical and historical attention to the roles of scientific
visualization in his “analytic geometry of genetics,” with studies of
Weismann diagrams, Punnett Squares, and models of genetic recombination. In
the late 1980s to 2000s, Wimsatt developed a novel approach to the
difficult concept of emergence by recognizing it as a family of concepts of
different modes of failure of aggregativity. This simple shift of focus
allowed Wimsatt to recognize deep connections between emergence and
reductionistic research, again centering attention on the role of these
concepts in scientific practice. Wimsatt’s 2007 book, *Re-Engineering
Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality*, offers
new insight into the coherence and systematic character of the body of
Wimsatt’s work and brings some of his classic essays to new audiences.

Since retirement from the University of Chicago in 2007, Wimsatt moved to
the University of Minnesota as Winton Professor of Liberal Arts where he
has been pioneering the study of yet another major concept: scaffolding in
development, evolution, cognition, and culture. This is a concept derived
partly from developmental psychology, but one which resonates with
Wimsatt’s deep abiding interest in all things constructional,
reductionistic (in the sense he has made respectable), and heuristic. There
is no evidence at all that Wimsatt is slowing down in his “golden years,”
with seven papers and an edited volume in press in 2013 and a book on
generative entrenchment in the works.

Bill Wimsatt has been an agenda-setting pioneer in the philosophy of
biology and philosophy of science in practice, an enthusiastic yet humble
advocate for interdisciplinarity, a founding member of ISHPSSB, a mentor to
young scholars across the spectrum of science studies specialties, a good
friend to David Hull and those who treasure the values and spirit that
define ISHPSSB, and above all, a real mensch.

*David L. Hull Prize Committee: Garland Allen, Ana Barahona, Werner
Callebaut, Lindley Darden (Chair), Jim Griesemer, and Michael Dietrich*