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2013 Patrick Suppes Prize in the History of Science

2013 Spring General Meeting
Willem "Pim" J. M. Levelt

Willem J. M. Levelt’s A History of Psycholinguistics, The Pre-Chomskian Era is without question the most important and serious book yet written on the history of psycholinguistics prior to 1965. Levelt’s Part 2, entitled "Establishing the Discipline 1770 –1900," a detailed treatment of the many developments in the 19th century, is certainly the most important source in English for this century in which psycholinguistics, due primarily to the work of German scholars, became a scientific subject. Part 2 does not have a serious competitor in any language, certainly not in English. Part 3, entitled "Twentieth-Century Psycholinguistics Before the 'Cognitive Revolution'", has a similarly impressive and detailed history of the subject which changed so drastically in the period between 1900-1965. The treatment of Bloomfield’s work and his behaviorist heritage is especially impressive. But the account of this period is so rich and carefully done that readers will diverge in their choices of favorite theorists from Jean Piaget to Roman Jakobson. Levelt’s book is the kind of history that will be read and used for at least another half century, if not more.

Willem "Pim" J. M. Levelt is Founder and Director Emeritus of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Special Max Planck Society Chair and Emeritus Honorary Professor of Psycholinguistics at Nijmegen University, Amsterdam. His research and his strong intellectual leadership of the Max Planck Institute made it the leading center in the world for psycholinguistic research. He served as its Director 1980-2006. Levelt’s work on lexical access in speech production and related topics is outstanding. His 1989 book, Speaking, and his many research articles on all aspects of speech production have brought him recognition as one of the world’s leading psycholinguists. He has, in addition, played a broad and important role in the organization and development of Dutch social sciences. Recognition of this fact is evident in his election as President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Sciences, which he served 2002-2005.

The Patrick Suppes Prize honors accomplishments in three very different and deeply significant scholarly fields, with the prize rotating each year between philosophy, psychology, and history of science. The Patrick Suppes Prize in the History of Science is awarded for an outstanding book in history of science appearing within the preceding six years. The works considered for the prize are restricted to works that emphasize detailed analysis of important systematic findings in any branch of science, ancient or modern using quantitative and mathematical methods. This is the first presentation of the history of science prize.

The selection committee for the history of science prize was Patrick Suppes, Lucie Stern Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Stanford University; Anne Cutler, Research Professor, MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney, Australia; Philip Johnson-Laird, Stuart Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Princeton University; and Richard Shiffrin, Distinguished Professor, Luther Dana Waterman Professor, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Indiana University.