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April 27, 2006

Prof elected to AAAS

Anil K. Gupta, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, professor of history and philosophy of science and a fellow of Pitt’s Center for Philosophy of Science, has been elected a 2006 fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS).

Of the 175 new fellows and 20 new foreign honorary members, Gupta is being honored along with two former presidents of the United States — George H.W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton; U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse, biochemist and Rockefeller University president; winners of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, music, investigative reporting and non-fiction; a former U.S. poet laureate, and a member of the French Senate.

“I’m in good company,” said Gupta. “I don’t belong there, but I can fake it,” he said. An award ceremony is planned in Boston in October. “I’m tempted to go so I can shake Bill Clinton’s hand,” he said.

Gupta, who officially learned of his election to the academy April 24, said, “I’m still recovering from it,” adding that he has since been flooded with e-mail and congratulatory messages. Gupta said he believes he is the first person of Indian origin to be named an AAAS fellow in his field of expertise.

Since its founding in 1780, the academy has elected as fellows and foreign honorary members the brightest and most influential leaders from each generation, including George Washington, Ben Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill.

In addition to its scholarly publications, the academy conducts a varied program of projects and studies that address the needs and problems of society. Gupta said he is unsure what his role in those may be. “Philosophers are pretty abstract. I don’t know if they’ll ask us to do anything,” he joked.

Several philosophy colleagues are among Pitt’s six other faculty who are members of the academy. Thomas E. Starzl, transplant pioneer and Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery, elected to the academy in 1971; Adolf Grünbaum, Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy and co-chair of the Center for Philosophy of Science, 1976; John Henry McDowell, University Professor of Philosophy, 1992; John S. Earman, University Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, 1993; Robert Brandom, Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy, 2000, and Peter L. Strick, professor of neurobiology and psychiatry and codirector of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, 2004, all are among the academy’s current approximately 4,000 American fellows and 600 international honorary members.

Prior to joining the University in 2001, Gupta was Rudy Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University. He has served as assistant and associate professor at McGill University, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and visiting professor at the University of Padua, Italy.

His primary topic areas are logic, philosophy of language, metaphysics and epistemology, with special interest in definitions, truth, meaning and perception. He is author of “The Logic of Common Nouns” and co-author, with Pitt philosophy professor Nuel Belnap, of “The Revision Theory of Truth.”

Among his many honors are three National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships for University Teachers and a Teaching Excellence Recognition Award from Indiana University. He also was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Gupta received his B.S. from the University of London and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from Pitt.

This year’s 195 scholars, scientists, artists and civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders come from 24 states and 13 countries. AAAS’s current membership includes more than 170 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners.

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