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Philosophy of Science and Technology

The research group Philosophy of Science and Technology is directed by Prof. dr H. Radder. Its primary research area is the philosophy of science and technology. Combining science and technology accounts for the many significant connections between these two areas. In addition, the group includes research in neighbouring disciplines, such as history of science, science and technology studies, cognitive sciences, philosophy of mind, social philosophy, and ethics. The projects cover a broad range of ‘sciences’ (in the European sense of that term), including physical sciences, biology, neurosciences, psychiatry, psychology, social sciences, historiography, and religious studies; the study of technology includes information technology, biotechnology and medical technology.
Being knowledgeable about the practices of science and technology is a crucial requisite for doing philosophical research on science and technology. The individual projects focus on the following aspects of scientific and technological practices: experiment and observation and their relation to concepts and theories; material, conceptual and theoretical models in various sciences; intertheoretical relations between psychology and neurosciences; functional explanations in biology, psychology and technology; the practice of ‘understanding’ in a variety of sciences; the role of free will in psychiatric practices; the presuppositions of scholars (in the humanities and, in particular, religious studies); factual and normative dimensions of socio-technical systems; the commodification of academic research.
On the basis of such studies of the practice of science and technology, the individual projects investigate several more general and more theoretical philosophical themes and problems. These include: experimentation and (ontological) realism; scientific understanding and its relation to explanation; the epistemic and/or pragmatic significance of values and skills; epistemological reductionism and explanatory pluralism; connections between emotion, cognition and morality; free will and mental disorders; the relation between particular and universal knowledge claims; methodological issues in the humanities; external influences and the question of ‘good science’; how to integrate empirical, theoretical and normative dimensions of technology; ‘disclosive systems thinking’ and contemporary philosophy of technology.

Methods, results and trainees

The methods and approaches used are primarily systematic analyses of philosophical problems regarding science and technology. To flesh out and ‘test’ the philosophical claims and arguments, the results of historical, social, cognitive and normative studies of science and technology are explicitly taken into account.
Research results are primarily published in high-quality, peer-reviewed media (not just journals but also books). Furthermore, writing for a broader audience, either in The Netherlands or abroad, is seen to be significant as well. Finally, much effort is spent on further dissemination of the research results, through national and international cooperation with other researchers, through the organization of workshops, symposia and conferences, and through participation in other academic meetings in The Netherlands and abroad.
The education of the research trainees is organized primarily through the international workshop programme of the Dutch-Flemish ‘Network for Philosophy of Science and Technology’. This Network includes philosophers of science and technology from 16 Flemish and Dutch universities. Where appropriate, research trainees also participate in specific courses of other research schools.

Individual research projects

The research group Philosophy of Science and Technology includes the following projects (senior projects with associated doctoral dissertation projects):

(7) Material, conceptual and normative dimensions of science and technology (prof. dr Hans Radder; 2005-2006: 0,3 fte; 2007: 0,4 fte; as of 1-1-2008: 0,5 fte)
(7a) Scientific experimentation and its philosophical significance (dissertation project drs Nikki Smaniotto; 0,7 fte; until 1-9-2006)
(7b) A philosophical investigation of the theory and practice of patenting in the life sciences (dissertation project drs Delene Engelbrecht, MA; 0,7 fte; as of 1-1-2007 through 31-12-2011)
(7c) Niels Bohr’s complementarity (dissertation project Makoto Katsumori, MSc; p.m.)
(7d) Computer simulation in science and politics (dissertation project dr Arthur Petersen; p.m.)
(8) Understanding and values in science (dr Henk W. de Regt; until 28-2-2006: 0,7 fte; 1-3-2006 until 1-1-2007: 0,4 fte; as of 1-1-2007: 0,32 fte)
(8a) Understanding scientific understanding in psychology (dissertation project drs Kai Eigner; 0,7 fte; until 1-4-2007)
(8b) Understanding in the life sciences (dissertation project dr Sabina Leonelli, MSc.; 0,9 fte; until 1-5-2006)
(9) Reduction: psychology and the neurosciences (dr Huib Looren de Jong; 0,3 fte)
(10) Free will and mental disorder (postdoc project dr Gerben Meynen; 0,5 fte; as of 1-5-2007 through 30-4-2011)
(11) Foundations and methods of religious studies (dr Edwin Koster; 0,3 fte)
(12) Disclosing our technological society: the need for an integrative philosophy of technology (dr Sytse Strijbos; 0,4 fte; until 1-4-2006)

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