Contributing to Self-Reflection in Science

What is a scientific theory? What does reasoning look like within a theory? How can we identify whether reasoning is correct? How can we obtain more information from evidence and reasoning than appears at first glance? Do our theories have fundamental limitations? Does such a thing as scientific truth actually exist? These are the kinds of questions research into theoretical philosophy addresses.

Thinking about such questions can lead science towards a greater understanding of itself. In addition, this research also delivers results that can actually be used in linguistics, mathematics or computer science. A good example of this kind of beneficial result is the development of stages of reasoning that may not deliver new potential conclusions but can serve to make reasoning within a given theory significantly faster.

Does such a thing as scientific truth actually exist?

The research in Theoretical Philosophy is foundational research: research into the interpretation of scientific theories and the correctness of different forms of of reasoning. This is part of Utrecht University’s research focus History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities.

More specifically, the research in Theoretical Philosophy focuses on the following themes:

  • the comparison of theories
  • truth
  • evidential theory
  • permissible rules
  • constructivism
  • the development of a foundational theory, based on the notion of relationship