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  • Newsletter 02-2015 Philosophy of Science in Europe

Philosophy of Science in Europe: Portugal & Denmark

PORTUGAL

Questionnaire filled in by António Zilhão


António Zilhão is Associate Professor with Habilitation for Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of Lisbon, Portugal.


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


In Portugal, there are thirty-six permanent positions in philosophy (eighteen full professorships and eighteen associate professorships). The number of full professors working in philosophy of science is zero. The number of associate professors working in philosophy of science is one (University of Lisbon). 


(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 only other institution in the country dedicated to philosophy of science is the Centre for Philosophy of Science (University of Lisbon). Most of its senior members are either teachers of different natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, medicine) with philosophical interests or philosophers with an interest in the history of scientifically informed philosophy (e.g., Leibniz). The philosophical work of the former is predominantly focused on the philosophy of the science they teach or on ethical issues it gives rise to (e.g., bioethics); the philosophical work of the latter is predominantly focused on historical and hermeneutic matters. Within the centre, there is also a small group doing work on logic, methodology, general philosophy of science and theory of reasoning. Outside of both the centre and the philosophy department, but still within the University of Lisbon (at its department of mathematics), there is a full professor for mathematical logic with strong interests in the philosophy of mathematics. At the engineering school of the New University of Lisbon, there is a research centre for computation and artificial intelligence that hires international philosophers of science with an interest in Artificial Intelligence for a temporary position.  


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


Research in Philosophy in Portugal is, in general, funded by the state owned Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). FCT’s last research assessment placed the Centre for Philosophy of Science (University of Lisbon) in the top three philosophy research centres of the country. Given the fact that the amount of funding that centres receive is dependent on their place in the ranking, this should be good news for the near future of the centre. In spite of the country’s poverty of expertise in the domain, two Portuguese institutions – the Gulbenkian Foundation and FCT itself – award a very substantial joint international prize (75000 €) in Philosophy of Science – the Fernando Gil Prize. The jury is mainly international; there are a few Portuguese members of the jury, whose connection to philosophy of science is however nonexistent. Since its inception, in 2010, the prize was awarded three times (2010, 2011 and 2013) to philosophers of science from the Czech Republic, Italy and the United Kingdom.


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


There is no Portuguese society for philosophy of science.


DENMARK

Questionnaire filled in by Julie Zahle


Julie Zahle is Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication (Section Philosophy) of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Research Fellow at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences (TINT), University of Helsinki, Finland.


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

 

One way to answer the question is by simply offering a head count of the full professors and the associate professors who are employed, on a permanent basis, in the departments or sections of philosophy at Danish Universities. Proceeding in this manner, there are about twelve full professors and fifty-two associate professors. Among these nineteen mention philosophy of science as an area of research or have done research on the topic. Just leaving it at that, however, would be misleading: there are also philosophers who have permanent full or associate professorships in departments other than philosophy, and some of these have philosophy of science as an area of research. Those who have philosophy of science as an area of research add up to at least ten, but the number is probably higher. Finally, there are full and associate professors in other departments who would not describe themselves as philosophers but who do research on philosophy of science topics. It is difficult to estimate the size of this group.

 

(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.)


Most philosophers of science state that they focus on one discipline, say, physics or sociology. Alternatively, they describe themselves as focusing on groups of sciences like the humanities or the natural sciences.

 

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


The Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities (FKK) supports, among other things, research within philosophy, including philosophy of science.


Moreover, there are two major private foundations that support philosophy of science projects and philosophy projects more generally. These are the Carlsberg Foundation and the Velux Foundation.

 

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


In 2013, the Danish Network in Philosophy of Science was formed. Its main focus is the philosophy of the natural sciences. The network organizes annual meetings and seminars. There are seventy-seven members of the network.


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