Philosophy professor Brown named 2020 Speaker Research Award winner

Recognized as one of the world’s most influential contributors to paraconsistent (inconsistency-tolerant) logic, Dr. Bryson Brown has been named the winner of the 2020 University of Lethbridge Speaker Research Award.

Dr. Bryson Brown is regarded as a key contributor to an area of logic called paraconsistent logic.

Brown, professor and Chair in the Department of Philosophy, is regarded as a key contributor to an area of logic called paraconsistent logic, which allows non-trivial reasoning from inconsistent premises; he has also made influential contributions to the application of such logics in the history and philosophy of science.

His contributions to research are manyfold, displaying breadth across areas including philosophy of ecology, the theory of evolution and early (“old”) quantum theory. Brown is a co-author or co-editor of six volumes of scholarly papers and has published 53 research papers in refereed journals and scholarly anthologies — an impressive record for a humanities professor publishing in journals that accept less than 10 per cent of submissions.  Brown’s research has also garnered the attention and support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as he has received five Regular Research Grants over the course of his career, an exceptional accomplishment in the humanities.

Born in Niagara Falls, Ont., Brown earned his BA in Philosophy at Trent University before studying at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned an MA and PhD in philosophy. His first academic appointment was at Rice University in Houston, Tex., followed by two years as a research assistant and teacher at Dalhousie University before joining the University of Lethbridge, in 1986.  At the U of L, he has taught courses in history and philosophy of science, logic, metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language.

Brown has a passion for philosophy of science, including the roles of science in understanding our world and as a critical tool for survival in today’s world.  A teacher of his, Wilfrid Sellars, described the aim of philosophy as “to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term”; Brown hopes that his work has contributed and will continue to contribute to that project.

Understanding our world is essential to coping with critical issues today, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown’s work on paraconsistent logics has explored how logicians and scientists have coped with the inconsistencies that paradoxes and the natural world sometimes seem to impose on us, and developed new ways to carry on constructively.

Brown is being presented with the Speaker Research Award as part of this week’s 2020 Fall Convocation online celebrations.