Philosophers Win $1.3 Million Grant to Study Epistemic Progress in the University


A trio of philosophers at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have won €1.2 million (approximately $1.3 million) grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation to study how universities can best enable epistemic progress in the humanities.

The three-year project is led by René van Woudenberg, Jeroen de Ridder, and Rik Peels. They write:

The project does two things. First, it develops institutional policies and procedures for universities that facilitate epistemic progress. Specifically, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs, as we call them) for research integrity will be designed as well as training and support programs for mentors and supervisors. Second, it aims to contribute directly to epistemicp rogress in the humanities by carrying out replications of two cornerstone studies, by clarifying the nature of a prominent type of humanities explanations, namely non-causal explanations, by clarifying the relations between the sciences and the humanities, by writing a textbook on the philosophy of the humanities defending the possibility of progress in the humanities, and by articulating what progress in theology can amount to.

René van Woudenberg, Jeroen de Ridder, and Rik Peels

The project arose in response to academia being “shaken by reports about questionable research practices” and concerns about “the epistemic value and respectability of the humanities” in the university. 

The funding will support research and writing, lectures, conferences, seminars, summer schools, a PhD student, and three post-doctoral researchers. More details here.


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