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  • Newsletter 01-2017 Philosophy of Science in Europe

Philosophy of Science in Europe: The Netherlands

The Netherlands

Questionnaire filled in by Mieke Boon


Mieke Boon is a professor of Philosophy of Science in Practice in the Philosophy Department at the University of Twente.


(a) How many (full) professors of philosophy are there in your country (approx.) and how many are philosophers of science?


The Netherlands has approximately 110 full professors of philosophy, and 35 associate professors. We have approximately 17 professors in philosophy of science, and 2 associate professors.


(b) How would you characterize philosophy of science in your country? For example, is it mainly general or specific (philosophy of physics, psychology, economics etc.)?


The Netherlands has quite an inclusive approach in philosophy of science (in the sense of Radder 2015). We have 13 state funded universities, which all have a philosophy department. Most of philosophy departments have several faculty that focus on philosophy of science, doing general philosophy of science and usually also having one or another specific research orientation, often related to the character of their university: Groningen (RUG) on probability theory and scientific method in physics and psychology; Utrecht (UU) on physics and on history and philosophy of science and the humanities; Amsterdam (VU) on philosophy of the cognitive sciences and psychology; Amsterdam (UvA) on philosophy of the humanities; Leiden (RUL) on philosophy of historiography of science; Tilburg (TU) on statistics; Nijmegen (RUN) on philosophy of cognition and language; Rotterdam (EUR) on philosophy of economics; Maastricht (UM) on philosophy of cognitive sciences. The four so-called technical universities, Delft (TUD), Twente (UT), Eindhoven (TUE), and Wageningen (LUW) in their philosophy of science focus on philosophy of technology, design, and the engineering sciences.


(c) What are the possibilities and chances in your country for external funding in philosophy of science?


In the last decade or so, the Netherlands has experienced significant changes in research funding. In the past, faculty in philosophy could spend approximately half of their time on research and the other half on teaching, but currently, in order to have research time, funds need to be earned in a competitive manner. It is not easy to get funding for philosophy of science research (both research by faculty, PhD students and post-doc positions). Mainly, we apply at the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO), which is very competitive. Usually, humanities and social sciences are assessed together, which doesn’t help. Some groups manage to attract EU funds as well.


(d) Is there in your country a society for philosophers of science and if so, what are its activities?


We have a national research school for philosophy, called OZSW, which is divided in three sections: Ethical and Practical Philosophy, History of Philosophy, and Theoretical Philosophy, which host the philosophy of science. Each section has a board in which a representative (tenured staff) of each university takes part. The OZSW and its sections organize study groups, workshops, summer / winter schools, and an annual joined conference. Additionally, we have a specific philosophy of science association (in Dutch), NVWF, which organizes conferences for academic philosophers of science as well as the general audience interested in philosophy of science.

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