Ilkka Niiniluoto
Humanist of the day

Ilkka Niiniluoto

Ilkka Niiniluoto has been active in the University of Helsinki for half a century. The student of mathematics was so enthused with theoretical philosophy that he gained the chair in the subject by the age of 31. Niiniluoto is known to be an astute philosopher of science, one who has defended a scientific view of the world and the idea of the university as a force for good.

Ilkka Niiniluoto

Ilkka Maunu Olavi Niiniluoto
Born March 12, 1946, Helsinki.

Master of Arts (Applied Mathematics), 1968, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1971, and Doctor of Philosophy (Theoretical Philosophy), University of Helsinki, 1974

Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 1977–2014
Chancellor, University of Helsinki, 20082013
Rector, University of Helsinki, 20032008
Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Helsinki, 19731977

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Research interests: philosophy of science, philosophical logic, theory of knowledge, cultural philosophy, history of philosophy

Main works: Is Science Progressive? (1984), Truthlikeness (1987) and Critical Scientific Realism (1999). In addition to two hundred academic articles and edited works, a dozen Finnish-language textbooks and essay collections, including Tiede, filosofia ja maailmankatsomus (‘Knowledge, philosophy and world-view’, 1984), Maailma, minä ja kulttuuri (‘The world, me and culture’, 1990), Järki, arvot ja välineet (‘Reason, values and means’, 1994) and Totuuden rakastaminen (‘Loving truth’, 2003).

Awards and special achievements
University of Helsinki’s award for public information, 1986
Chydenius Prize, 1990
Prometheus Prize, 2004
Honorary Doctorate, Helsinki School of Art and Design, 2007

Written by Ilkka Niiniluoto (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by John Calton

I came to the University to study mathematics, but my family background, actively rooted in the humanities, drew me to philosophy. My particular interest during my studies was on probability theory and logic.

I embarked on my doctoral thesis as part of Professor Jaakko Hintikka’s group, where I adopted the…

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University life has a wonderful rhythm: punctuating the daily toil of study, teaching and research are the mentally refreshing and elevating celebrations. I have happy memories of these from my own time as a student as a member of the South Finland student ‘nation’ and the philosophy students’ organization Dilemma…

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After retiring at the beginning of April 2014, I have continued my research and teaching as an active professor emeritus. My latest work Hyvän elämän filosofiaa (‘The philosophy of the good life’) is in press and will be published by the Society for Finnish Literature in the autumn of 2015…

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