Professor Emeritus Ilkka Niiniluoto (b. 1946) has had a prestigious career in the Finnish scientific and academic community. As a philosopher, he is the author of a number of works on the nature of science and scientific reasoning. During his extensive career he has also had a forceful and versatile role in society and public debate, actively engaging in university reforms and discussions, for instance. A perfect example of this is his anthology Dynaaminen sivistysyliopisto: sata puhetta ja kirjoitusta vuosilta 1987–2010, which introduces the reader to three decades of Niiniluoto’s speeches and writings on science policy and universities in Finland. Niiniluoto’s unswerving analytical approach, even when it comes to difficult issues, has made him a very esteemed figure in science and research.
As a philosopher of science, Niiniluoto has focused on issues such as the progress of scientific knowledge: If two theories explain the same phenomenon differently, how can we judge which theory is more accurate? This concept of truth approximation, put forward by Niiniluoto in his 1987 book Truthlikeness, is of great importance to the philosophy of science. Niiniluoto has also highlighted the significance of scientific realism in his 1999 book Critical Scientific Realism, another notable and highly cited publication. His publication record includes 200 original journal articles and numerous authored or edited books.
Niiniluoto has held several academic positions at the University of Helsinki, such as Associate Professor of Mathematics (1973–1977), Professor of Theoretical Philosophy (1977–2014), Vice-Rector (1998–2003), Rector (2003–2008) and Chancellor (2008–2013). He was President of the Philosophical Society of Finland from 1975 to 2015 and Chairman of the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies from 2000 to 2014. He is a member of numerous Finnish and international scientific societies and has held many important positions of trust both in Finland and abroad during his long career.