What is it that makes 2 plus 2 equal 4? If a coin flip comes up either heads or tails, and it doesn't come up heads, why must it come up tails? For the most part, these types of questions go widely unasked – generally because we just accept their outcomes as fact. But not philosophers. Philosophers are interested in studying why and how we know these things. And to those within this puzzling field of research, UCI logic & philosophy of science Distinguished Professor Penelope Maddy is one of the best in the world.

“Pen’s research is characterized by attention to historical sources, subtle and strikingly original philosophical argument, and painstaking attention to detail,” says Jeff Barrett, logic & philosophy of science professor. “UC Irvine is extraordinarily fortunate to have her.”

Maddy was recently named the 2013-14 Phi Beta Kappa Romanell Professor, an honor bestowed by the nation’s oldest academic honor society. It recognizes the top philosopher for her distinguished academic achievements as well as her contributions to our public understanding of philosophy.

"Pen Maddy is a scholar of the first rank whose seminal contributions have changed the course of thinking in our field,” says Kyle Stanford, & philosophy of science professor and department chair. “Our department could not be more pleased about this well-deserved honor or more proud to have her as a member.”

Her research focuses on the justifications of our most basic assumptions of mathematics. One of her books on the topic, Naturalism in Mathematics, received the 2002 Lakatos Award. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and former president of the International Association of Symbolic Logic where she currently sits on the board.

Maddy received her bachelor’s in mathematics from UC Berkeley in 1972 and doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University in 1978. She taught at the University of Notre Dame and University of Illinois, Chicago before joining UCI in 1987. She was founding chair of UCI’s Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, which is currently ranked No. 1 in decision, rational choice and game theory by the Philosophical Gourmet Report.

Maddy was nominated and selected for the Romanell Professorship from among a pool of more than 20 finalists, all considered by the award committee to be top scholars in philosophy. As part of the honor, she will receive a $7,500 prize and deliver three public lectures at UCI during the 2014-15 academic year.

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