Hacking, Ian

Ian Hacking, philosopher (b at Vancouver BC 18 February 1936). Ian Hacking grew up in Vancouver and completed his first degree, a BA in mathematics and physics, at the University of British Columbia. He then went on to Cambridge University, where he earned a BA, MA, and Ph.D. (1962) in Moral Sciences. Hacking has taught philosophy at many universities in North America and abroad, including Cambridge, Oxford, Princeton, and Stanford. He returned to live in Canada in 1982, joining the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, but he continues to travel and lecture widely. The citation that accompanied his 2001 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize states that Ian Hacking is "considered to be among the very top rank of philosophers in the world."

Ian Hacking has been lauded for his scholarly contributions to the study of the history and PHILOSOPHY of mathematics. He published The Logic of Statistical Inference in 1965 and The Emergence of Probability in 1975. Hacking's An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic (2001) is a very well reviewed and widely used logic textbook.

In addition to his academic writing, Ian Hacking is a public philosopher, who often addresses himself to a more general audience. The Taming of Chance (1990), for example, discusses the history of probability and its increasing importance in our daily lives. This book was named by The Modern Library as one of the best 100 non-fiction works of the 20th century.

Ian Hacking's interest in our changing scientific, philosophical, and social understanding of memory is explored in Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory (1995). Mad Travellers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illness (1998) looks at epidemics of mental illnesses; the book's title refers to fugue, a disorder prevalent in the 19th century that was characterized by amnesia and the urge to go off on explicable, extended trips. The book considers the complex interplay of culture and physiological symptoms in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

Ian Hacking's work breaks down the traditional boundaries between the sciences and the humanities. He relates, "I have this extraordinary curiosity about all subjects of the natural and human world and the interaction between the physical sciences and the social sciences." His 1999 book The Social Construction of What? examines the topic of social construction and provides a balanced overview of the debates, sometimes called "the science wars," between scientists and constructionists. Historical Ontology (2002) brings together 25 years of Hacking's thoughts and writings on the intersections of philosophy and history.

Ian Hacking has received many honours and awards for his work. In 2000, he was the first anglophone to be given a permanent chair at the Collège de France. In addition to the $50,000 Molson Prize, Hacking won the inaugural Killam Prize for the Humanities in 2002. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the British Academy, and of the Royal Society of Canada. Ian Hacking was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2004.