Epistemology and the Regress Problem: A Probabilistic Approach (Free Competition 2012-2016)
In epistemology the regress problem traditionally takes on the form of an epistemic chain: a belief in a proposition may be epistemically justified by a belief in another proposition, which is epistemically justified by a belief in still another proposition, and so on, ad infinitum. Since the chain does not have a final link from which the justification springs, it seems that there can be no justification at all.
A new approach to the regress problem is known as infinitism, which implies that there is nothing wrong with an infinite epistemic chain. Like many of their contemporaries, and against epistemological tradition, infinitists are sympathetic to the view that justification is to be understood in terms of probabilistic support. However, up till now no infinitist has realized the far-reaching consequences of this view for the regress problem.
The proposed program intends to remove this shortcoming. It aims to develop a thoroughly probabilistic form of infinitism, which is more robust and more encompassing than the current versions, and which offers a new way to tackle the old regress problem.
The Roots of Deduction (VIDI 2011-2016)
(Catarina Dutilh Novaes)
In a deductive argument, the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises with no recourse to external information. As simple as this may sound, there are a number of philosophical puzzles and open questions related to the concept of deduction. When do we, human agents, reason deductively, if at all? What is the pay-off of reasoning deductively? Where does the idea of ‘following of necessity’ come from? The project will investigate these and related issues by means of an integrative approach, relying on logic, philosophy, empirical data from psychology, and cognitive science, and the history of logic and mathematics, to unravel the roots of deduction. Project website Roots of Deduction
What are the chances? An explication of single-case probability (VIDI 2011-2016)
This research project targets the concept of chances: numbers between 0 and 1 that can be assigned to events and that do not express a shaky personal opinion, but rather an objective characteristic of the events themselves. In the project we investigate how chances relate to the, often deterministic, mechanisms underlying the events, thereby contributing to debates over the reference class problem, randomness, and reductionism. Next to this, the research will help to improve the statistical methods by which we can determine chances, specifically in the area of model selection and causal modelling using Bayesian networks.
Formal Epistemology: Foundations and Applications (Odysseus 2007-2010; Endowed Chair RUG 2010-2015)
The Formal Epistemology Project (FEP) arrives in Groningen under the direction of Igor Douven. Based in the Department of Theoretical Philosophy, FEP is an interdisciplinary research project dedicated to investigating the foundations and applications of formal epistemology. FEP combines methodological and research expertise from philosophy, logic, probability theory, psychology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. For an overview of FEP's aims, scope, and events, please visit the Formal Epistemology Project's website
Logics for intelligent interaction: expressivity and succinctness (VIDI 2009-2015)
One of the prominent themes in logic today is intelligent interaction, which occurs in any social situation. There is a multitude of logical theories in this area to such an extent that for one and the same subject, there is more than one approach. There is a great need to establish whether alternative approaches actually provide fundamentally different perspectives, or whether the differences are merely superficial. By focusing on the expressivity and succinctness of these logics, possible differences in their underlying conceptual frameworks are revealed, thus advancing our understanding of these conceptual frameworks and thereby of intelligent interaction itself.
Reasoning about quantum interaction: Logical modelling and verification of multi-agent quantum protocols
This project is multidisciplinary within GW (Humanities and Logic in particular), EW (the division for Physical Sciences, referring in particular to Theoretical Computer Science) and N (Physics, referring to Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Information). It designs logical systems for reasoning about the flow of classical and quantum information. This project relates to modelling and verification tasks in theoretical computer science as well as to fundamental research on the logical foundations of quantum mechanics.
Recasting cognition as layered agency: developing a dynamical, situated and embodied view ( VIDI 2002-2007)
(Fred Keijzer, Marc van Duijn, Daan Franken)
This project aims to develop the idea that the heart of cognition consists of agency rather than of inner reasoning, the usual view in the cognitive sciences. Agency is the capacity of a physically embodied agent to act in a real physical, and sometimes social, environment. In this view, cognition becomes much wider applicable than previously thought and includes all neurally modulated perception-action couplings, whether they are performed by jellyfish or humans. The huge differences between such widely diverging agents are not accounted for by presuming a general dichotomy between automatic, reflex-like behavior and cognitively guided behavior. Increasingly complex, and eventually human cognition is viewed as a result of adding specific, action-related layers of neural modulation on top of existing perception-action capabilities (e.g. Brooks, 1999). Recasting cognition as layered agency is a promising way to develop a coherent conceptual foundation for the cognitive sciences that: (a) builds on the increasing awareness within the cognitive sciences of the central importance of dynamical, bodily and situational factors for cognition, (b) accommodates many otherwise counterintuitive empirical findings within the cognitive sciences, and (c) sets the concept of cognition firmly in a biological and neural context. The proposed project consists of three subprojects. The subproject of the applicant targets the general conceptual changes that accompany this shifting the cognitive core from thinking to agency. Two Ph.D. projects investigate the repercussions of this shift for two widely used concepts: reflexes and perception. Reflexes are traditionally seen as automatic behaviors that are not mediated by cognition at all. Perception is traditionally seen as the translation of stimuli into a cognitively accessible format. Both interpretations are now challenged by empirical research that suggests that an agency-based conceptual rediscription of these concepts is both welcome and feasible.
Interventions and Conceptual Change (VENI 2006-2009)
(Jan Willem Romeijn)
In this research project I investigate concept formation in science using the logical and mathematical means associated with analytic philosophy of science. My aim is to extend the reach of rational reconstructions of scientific knowledge, thereby complementing more historical and sociological views on scientific knowledge. I focus on a specific theme that is strongly connected to conceptual change: experimental intervention. Concept formation typically occurs when scientists are building up a causal model of the world, and such causal modelling is usually done in tandem with experimentation.
The central pillar of the research is the construction of formal models of experimental intervention, causal modelling, and conceptual change. My main instrument is probability theory, more in particular the graphical representations of probability distributions known as Bayesian networks. In artificial intelligence and psychological modelling these networks are employed with great success, and on the formal side of philosophy their use enjoys a growing popularity. Their application to the themes of this project looks particularly promising. The networks are naturally interpreted as the causal models of experimental scientists, while interventions and conceptual changes can be understood as specific operations on, and changes in these networks. The dynamics of causal modelling will reveal the interplay between these operations and network changes.
Next to developing these models, I will explore a parallel between cognitive development in children and conceptual change in science. Psychological models of cognitive development will be used to inform epistemological models of conceptual change. On a more philosophical level I argue that, like the cognitive development of a child depends on its bodily interactions with an environment, the conceptual development of scientific theory hinges on the material interaction in experiment.
Developing dynamic epistemic logic guided by old paradoxes and new techniques (VENI 2005-2008)
Information pervades so many aspects of our daily lives that the current age has been dubbed "the information age". There are many scientific theories about information. In the last decade dynamic epistemic logic has developed as one of the main formal systems that are used to analyse the dynamics of information. These recent developments have mostly taken place within computer science and artificial intelligence. Philosophers have yet to benefit from these developments in order to solve some well-known problems in philosophical logic. The overall aim of the project is to further develop dynamic epistemic logic and to let it join forces with other scientific theories about information in order to gain insight in information and its dynamics. The proposed research will focus on the following key objectives:
- Develop philosophically sound semantics for dynamic epistemic predicate logic.
- Evaluate these semantics by applying the logic to the hooded man paradox and the lottery paradox.
- Combine belief revision further with dynamic epistemic logic.
- Further develop probabilistic dynamic epistemic logic in order to develop a more general dynamic epistemic logic and to provide a theory of more complicated updates for probability theory.
- Combine logics of agency and dynamic epistemic logic, in order to develop a notion of
- agency within dynamic epistemic logic, and a notion of action within logics of agency
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