Optimal Proofs

Logics occur in great diversity in mathematics, philosophy, computer science, and linguistics. Proof systems are syntactical descriptions of them, often with good computational properties. The aim of the project is to desrcibe the possible proof systems that a logic can have, and to determine the optimal ones among them, where optimality is determined by the way in which the logic is used.

Unifying Metaphysical Pluralism

Science is our collective effort at understanding the world we live in. Yet, remarkably, different sciences can seem to be worlds apart, each studying its own set of things and phenomena. But the world they thus study is single, not many. How can that be? It seems that we face a metaphysical choice. Either the diversity of sciences can be somehow brought back to one, physics being the likely candidate, with its promise of a ‘theory of everything’. Or we embrace the plurality and subscribe to a ‘disunity of things’. This project aims to reconcile the idea of unity that speaks for the former option with the idea of diversity that motivates the latter option, by understanding the diversity as the internal articulation of the unitary conception of reality.

  • Project Coordinator: Dr Jesse Mulder
  • Duration: 2017 - 2021
  • Funding: NWO/VENI
Comparative Analysis of Conspiracy Theories (COMPACT)

Conspiracy theories play an increasingly visible role in contemporary European culture and the public domain of politics. Notwithstanding moral debates about their effects on knowledge, democracy and mental health, there has been little systematic research on where they come from, how they work and what, if anything, should be done about them. The aim of this Action is to develop an interdisciplinary and international network to provide a comprehensive understanding of conspiracy theories in different European countries.

  • Project Coordinator: Prof Peter Knight (University of Manchester)
  • Project members at UU: Prof. Daniel Cohnitz
  • Duration: 2016 - 2020
  • Funding: COST
Logical and Methodological Analysis of Scientific Reasoning Processes (LMASRP)

The aim of LMASRP is to coordinate and stimulate research on two themes: 1) Logical analysis of scientific reasoning processes. 2) Methodological and epistemological analysis of scientific reasoning processes. Examples of specific topics that fit into the first theme are: logical analyses of paraconsistent reasoning, reasoning under uncertainty, defeasible reasoning, abduction, causal reasoning, induction, analogical reasoning, belief revision, reasoning about action and norms, erotetic reasoning (i.e. reasoning about questions), argumentation.

  • Project Coordinator: Prof. Eric Weber (Ghent University)
  • Project members at UU: Prof. Jan Broersen, Dr Allard Tamminga
  • Duration: 2016 - 2020
  • Funding: FWO
The Digital Turn in Epistemology

In this multi-disciplinary project, philosophers will join mathematics education researchers to study how the nature of mathematical knowledge changes through the use of digital tools, and what consequences this has for the epistemology of mathematics. The researchers will approach the junction of mathematics, math education and digital tools from a variety of perspectives. The project is part of Utrecht University’s efforts to encourage education innovation and to improve the quality of education.

  • Project members: Prof. F.A. Muller, Dr Arthur Bakker, Prof. Jan Broersen
  • Partners: Faculty of Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Noordhoff Publishers
  • Duration: 2016 - 2021
  • Funding: NWO Creative Industry
Responsible Intelligent Systems

As intelligent systems are increasingly integrated into our daily life, the division, assignment and checking of responsibilities between human and artificial agents become increasingly important. From robots in medicine, the military, to automated protection systems; we delegate more and more responsibility to intelligent devices. By delegating responsibilities to intelligent devices, we run the risk of losing track of our indirect legal and moral liabilities. The REINS project aims to address this problem by providing formal and computational frameworks that form the basis for computational systems that enable us to mitigate these risks.

The Power of Constructive Proofs

Reasoning can take many forms and arguments vary in force. Constructive arguments are powerful because they are based on a calculation; this means they are important for mathematics and computer science and play a role in the philosophy of mathematics and logic. This project aims to gain a better understanding of the structure of powerful proofs in order to clarify which constructive proofs allow a certain theory and which do not.