Philosophy professor honored for dedication to science, reason

Michael Ruse, Florida State University’s Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy.

Internationally acclaimed philosopher Michael Ruse, Florida State University’s Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, has been named The Bertrand Russell Society’s award winner for 2014 for his dedication to science and reason.

A fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Ruse is director of Florida State’s History and Philosophy of Science program. His research interests include ethics and the philosophy of biology, especially Darwinism. The author or editor of more than 50 books, he has written about a large number of philosophical topics, including on the relationship between religion and science.

“It is a great thrill,” Ruse said of the society honor. “For me, Bertrand Russell’s greatness lay not only in his massive contributions to mathematics and philosophy, but in his lifelong commitment to social and educational causes.His example has been a constant presence and spur in my own life.”

A winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Russell (1872-1970) was a philosopher, mathematician, humanitarian and one of the last century’s most celebrated public intellectuals.

Founded in 1974, the Bertrand Russell Society seeks to foster a better understanding of Russell’s life, work and writings.

Alan Schwerin, president of the society, said Ruse “exemplifies the kind of dedication to science and reason that was championed by Bertrand Russell over his long life.”

Ruse was a key witness for the plaintiff in the 1981 test case McLean v. Arkansas, dealing with the state law permitting the teaching of creation science, which was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. federal court.

Ruse will accept his honor at the society’s annual meeting June 13-15 at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, and is expected to give the society’s keynote address.

“The Department of Philosophy here at FSU is obviously extremely proud to have Michael Ruse as a member, and his winning ofThe Bertrand Russell Society’s annual award for 2014 is yet another mark of Michael’s renown,” said professor and chair of the philosophy department Piers Rawling. “He was one of the pioneers in philosophizing about modern biology. This awardwill further enhance our department’s, and the university’s, reputations on the national and international scenes.”

This society award is one of several honors recently bestowed on Ruse. He won an Association of American Publishers 2013 PROSE Award for a book he edited, “The Cambridge History of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought,” and in September will receive an honorary degree from University College London. This will be the fourth honorary degree awarded to Ruse, three of which have come since he has been a faculty member at Florida State University.

Also, Cambridge University Press published a festschrift in Ruse’s honor this year, titled “Evolutionary Biology: Conceptual, Ethical, and Religious Issues.” A festschrift is a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic, and presented during his or her lifetime. It often features original contributions by the honored academic’s colleagues and former doctoral students.