The London School of Economics and Political Science announces that the 1993 Lakatos Award, of £10,000 for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science, has been jointly won by:



Peter Achinstein (Johns Hopkins University) for his book Particles and Waves: Historical Essays in the Philosophy of Science (Oxford University Press, 1991)



Alex Rosenberg Duke University


Alexander Rosenberg (Duke University) for his book Economics—Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns? (University of Chicago Press, 1992)




Peter Achinstein Particles and Waves: Historical Essays in the Philosophy of Science

This volume brings together six published and two new essays by the noted philosopher of science, Peter Achinstein. It represents the culmination of his examination of methodological issues that arise in nineteenth-century physics. He focuses on the philosophical problem of how, if at all, it is possible to confirm scientific hypotheses that postulate `unobservables’ such as light waves, molecules, and electrons. This question is one that not only was of great interest to nineteenth-century physicists and methodologists, but continues to occupy philosophers of science up to the present day. The essays in this volume deal with this vexing problem as it arose in actual scientific practice in three nineteenth-century episodes: the debate between particle and wave theorists of light, Maxwell’s kinetic theory of gases, and J.J. Thomson’s discovery of the electron. Achinstein shows that the most important issue raised by these three cases concerns the legitimacy of introducing hypotheses that invoke “unobservables”. If science is to be empirical, can such hypotheses be employed? How, if at all, is it possible to confirm them? Achinstein here assesses the philosophical validity of nineteenth-century and modern answers to these questions and presents and defends his own solutions.


Alexander Rosenberg Economics—Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns?

Economics today cannot predict the likely outcome of specific events any better than it could in the time of Adam Smith. This is Alexander Rosenberg’s controversial challenge to the scientific status of economics. Rosenberg explains that the defining characteristic of any science is predictive improvability—the capacity to create more precise forecasts by evaluating the success of earlier predictions—and he forcefully argues that because economics has not been able to increase its predictive power for over two centuries, it is not a science.