Marlis Hinckley wins International Union of History and Philosophy of Science Essay Prize

The International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST) is pleased to announce the outcome of the competition for the third IUHPST Essay Prize in History and Philosophy of Science. This prize competition seeks to encourage fresh methodological thinking on the history and philosophy of science as an integrated discipline. For this round of the competition the prize question was: “What can history and philosophy of science, technology and medicine contribute to our current global challenges?” The full text of the call for entries can be found here: http://iuhpst.org/pages/inter-division-commissions/joint-commission/2021-essay-prize.php

This thoughtful, provocative, and well-argued essay gives an illuminating analysis of how misinformation can spread, looking at the 16th century as a source of insight. Hinckley draws an imaginative and instructive parallel between 16th-century animal fakes (in particular, Aldrovandi’s “dragon”) and some salient current cases such as the impact of the Wakefield study on autism and vaccination, and the circulation of misinformation about COVID-19. The linkages she draws are keen, sensitive, plausible, and relevant. The historical work Hinckley presents is a deft and productive synthesis, succinct and filled with content. It genuinely integrates a philosophical perspective in order to understand the nature of information and to advance an ethical argument about responsible information-sharing. Hinckley opens up important practical questions and suggests that we need to craft a nuanced notion of “common sense” in order to guide people in sharing information with each other. We commend Marlis Hinckley for this bold and original essay, which takes a reflective look at history to challenge our present ways of life.

Ms. Hinckley will receive her prize and present the content of their essay in a special session at the 26th International Congress of History of Science and Technology (ICHST) in Prague (online), 25–31 July 2021.

This prize is administered by the Joint Commission , whose remit is to make links between the work of the two Divisions of the IUHPST, namely the DHST (Division of History of Science and Technology) and the DLMPST (Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology). The panel of judges for the 2021 competition consisted of: Rachel Ankeny, University of Adelaide, Australia; Agnes Bolinska, University of South Carolina, USA; Hasok Chang (chair), University of Cambridge, UK; Benedikt Löwe, Universities of Amsterdam/Hamburg/Cambridge, the Netherlands/Germany/UK; Helen Longino, Stanford University, USA, Joseph Martin, Durham University, UK; Michael Osborne, Oregon State University, USA, and Dirk Schlimm, McGill University, Canada.