RFP: Science Beyond Scientism
October 17, 2013 — 8:44

Author: Jeroen de Ridder  Category: News  Tags: , , ,   Comments: 0

The Abraham Kuyper Center for Science and Religion under the direction of René van Woudenberg welcomes proposals to investigate scientism and its manifestations in research into free will, moral belief formation and moral character, rational decision-making, and religious belief. The research project Science beyond Scientism is embedded in the research of the Theoretical Philosophy section of the Department of Philosophy at VU University Amsterdam. VU University Amsterdam is an accredited research university with excellent library and other research facilities.
Project description
Scientism is the view that science, and science alone, can give us knowledge, tell us what exists, and answer our moral, existential, and religious questions. Scientism is rampant in contemporary intellectual culture: it is assumed and endorsed in- and outside academia by influential scientists and philosophers writing about evolutionary theory, genetics, brain science, psychology, and philosophy. From there, scientism also wields influence on various social and professional practices, such as medicine, law, education, religion, and child rearing. We think scientism is not only false, but also harmful. False, because there are other sources of knowledge besides science. Harmful, because it undermines notions that are central to human self-understanding and flourishing, and to various social and professional practices; notions such as free will, rational decision-making, moral character, and religious belief.

A representative but non-exhaustive list of questions that are addressed in this project includes:

  • How is scientism best characterized and what arguments can be given against or in favor of it?
  • How does scientism manifest itself in empirical research on free will, morality, rationality, and religious belief?
  • What is the impact of scientism on science and society? E.g., how does it affect the practice of science and professional contexts, such as the legal and medical practice?
  • What is the relation between scientific knowledge and other things that have traditionally been seen as sources of knowledge, such as common sense, introspection, rational intuition, moral intuition, etc.? What is an appropriate epistemological framework to understand this relation?
  • What is the relation between knowledge and understanding and/or wisdom? What are the epistemic virtues manifested in science and do they differ from those in other cognitive and intellectual pursuits?

The complete project description can be found online: www.abrahamkuypercenter.vu.nl/projectdescription
Applicants may request up to 35,000 euros for projects not to exceed one year in duration and to be conducted in a period somewhere between January 2014 and December 2015.
By the date of appointment, candidates must have received the degree of Ph.D. (or equivalent).
Applications should be emailed to m.zeldenrijk@vu.nl with the following attachments:

  • CV
  • A writing sample (5000 words maximum). Excerpts from a larger piece are acceptable.
  • A proposal (1000 words max) outlining the research to be undertaken while a research fellow on the project.
  • A cover letter which indicates how the research to be conducted coheres with the project as a whole.
  • The names of two academic referees.

Application deadline: December 15, 2013. Applications will be evaluated by the project’s core team members. The final selection round will include an interview. Applicants selected for an interview will be informed no later than January 31, 2014 by e-mail. Applicants residing outside The Netherlands will be interviewed via telephone / Skype. Please note that the grants are awarded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation and that grant awardees will not be formally employed by VU University Amsterdam.
For additional information please contact:
Prof. Dr. R. van Woudenberg
phone +31 20 5986678
e-mail: R.van.Woudenberg@vu.nl

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