University of Pittsburgh
December 17, 2003

Pitt Philosophy Professor Robert Brandom Named Recipient of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Distinguished Achievement Award—One of the Largest Grants Worldwide Given for Individual Academic Achievement—Which Provides Funds of Up To $1.5 Million

Only four scholars have been selected this fall as the third group of distinguished award recipients in as many years.
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PITTSBURGH—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has named Robert B. Brandom, University of Pittsburgh Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy, recipient of a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in "recognition of his exemplary contributions to humanistic scholarship." The award is one of the largest grants worldwide given to recognize individual academic achievement. Only four candidates were chosen this year to receive the award, which was established in 2001 and provides funds of up to $1.5 million each.

The foundation recently released a statement that called Brandom "one of the most creative philosophers of language and mind working today. … Making It Explicit [Harvard University Press, 1994], his first book, is regarded as a leading contribution to understanding the nature of norms, rules, and commitments in thought and action—one of the most pressing problems in philosophy and in the social sciences—and has been compared to landmark works from the previous generation of philosophers. A forthcoming major work on Hegel is much anticipated, not least for its promise to offer a comprehensive analytic reading of a markedly nonanalytic philosopher. Professor Brandom's teaching and supervision of graduate students manifest the same quality and rigor of his own scholarly work."

"With this award—one of the most prestigious forms of academic recognition—Professor Brandom joins an elite group of scholars whose academic endeavors have both illustrated and advanced the vital role that the humanities play, not only within educational institutions but, more broadly, within our nation's cultural and intellectual framework," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "The University of Pittsburgh's Department of Philosophy and its Center for Philosophy of Science have proud histories of groundbreaking philosophical inquiry and discovery. Clearly, Professor Brandom's work has enhanced the University's strong legacy of humanistic scholarship, and this singular honor further exemplifies his great efforts and significant contributions."

The awards are designed to underscore the decisive contributions the humanities make to the nation's intellectual life. The funds associated with the awards are administered through the recipients' institutions. The awards recognize a select number of scholars in the humanities whose work has been of the highest caliber and provide scholars and their institutions with resources to further their programs of scholarship and teaching.

"One thing that is special about this particular award is the way it acknowledges the symbiotic relationship between thinkers and the institutions that nurture them," said Brandom." I have spent my entire career in the philosophy department at the University of Pittsburgh—a department that has consistently been recognized as one of the top five in the nation. During this period, I have benefited from and appreciated its unflagging support, as the department has benefited from and appreciated the unflagging support of the University. I want over the next few years to find creative ways to expend the funds the Mellon Foundation has so generously provided, both in pursuing and developing my own philosophical ideas and in strengthening those institutions, to whose research mission these efforts contribute and which make the work possible."

Brandom, who has been a University faculty member since 1976, is a fellow in

Pitt's Center for Philosophy of Science and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served as chair of the University's philosophy department and the Pitt Faculty of Arts and Sciences' Humanities Council. He also is a member of the Pitt College of Arts and Sciences' Curriculum Review Committee (Humanities) and the Academic Integrity Review Board.

His interests center on the philosophies of language, mind, and logic. He

has published more than 50 articles on these and related subjects. He has been a Nelson Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan (1990) and delivered the Hempel Lecture at Princeton University (1994) and the Townsend Lecture at the University of California at Berkeley (1997).

Brandom received the Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Yale University, and the Ph.D. degree in philosophy from Princeton University, where he was both a Whiting and a Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellow.

The University of Pittsburgh's Department of Philosophy has occupied a position of internationally recognized distinction for more than four decades, ranking second in the most recent National Research Council ratings of research-doctorate programs in the United States. The department has enormous strength in a variety of areas, including the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of science, and logic. It is now leading the way in the recent movement in analytic philosophy away from traditional naturalistic approaches and toward a rediscovery of the German idealists, especially Hegel.

Pitt's internationally renowned Center for Philosophy of Science, which observed its 40th anniversary in 2002, exists to promote scholarship and research, to encourage scholarly exchanges, and to foster publications in the philosophy of science as well as in philosophically informed history of science and related fields. The center is dedicated to bridging the gulf between the sciences and the humanities, and to helping to develop and disseminate a philosophical understanding and appreciation of the sciences.

Mellon award candidates are recommended by nominators invited by the foundation to provide statements describing the merits of the candidates they are proposing. Additional references are sought for the most promising candidates. These are reviewed by the foundation's senior advisers in the humanities, with final selections being made by a panel of distinguished scholars led by Patricia Meyer Spacks, Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

The other 2003 award recipients are Roger S. Bagnall, professor of classics and history at Columbia University; Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University; and Christopher Ricks, Warren Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.