Presentation and history
The Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science is part of the Department of Philosophy and Moral Science of Ghent University (UGent). It was founded in 1993 by Diderik Batens, who was then professor of logic and philosophy of science. Among the first members were Joke Meheus (then a pre-doctoral fellow of the FWO, the Research Foundation – Flanders) and Erik Weber (at that time a post-doctoral fellow of the FWO). In 1997 Erik Weber became professor in philosophy of science. In 2003 Joke Meheus became research professor, with logic as area of specialisation. The size of the centre grew gradually from 4 in 1993 to to approximately 25 now. Diderik Batens retired in 2010. The centre is now directed by Erik Weber, Joke Meheus and Maarten Van Dyck. The latter started to work at the Centre in 2001 and became professor in history and philosophy of science in 2009.
Non-classical logics for defeasible reasoning processes
The logic research in the centre focuses on defeasible reasoning processes (reasoning processes in which a conclusion formulated at a certain stage may be withdrawn in view of new information or more insight in already available information). Adaptive logics, a specific subtype of non-classical logics, were developed at the centre as a unified framework for studying defeasible reasoning. We do research at the object-level (developing new systems) and at the meta-level (proving meta-theoretic results, studying relations between logical systems, …).
Formal Analysis of Human Reasoning
Because of its strong focus on defeasible reasoning, our logic research is directly relevant for (and is inspired by) the study of scientific reasoning processes. This creates a link with the centre’s research in philosophy of science research (see below). Examples of types of defeasible reasoning that occur frequently in the sciences are: abduction, inductive generalisation, causal reasoning and reasoning by analogy. A second important domain of application for our logical research is practical and moral reasoning: reasoning about actions, intentions, norms, values, … In our formal analysis of human reasoning processes we us the above-mentioned (qualitative) non-classical logics, but also quantitative formal methods (e.g. Bayesian methods).
Philosophy of Scientific Practice
With “scientific practice” we mean: reasoning pattern en behavioural patterns that occurs frequently in scientific research. Important topics are causality and scientific explanation. In this research line (contrary to the previous one) scientific reasoning processes are studies from an epistemological and philosophy of science perspective.
Social epistemology studies the collective, social aspects of scientific research and other knowledge producing practices. Peer review and consensus formation are important topics with respect to the social organization of science. Outside the realm of science, there is e.g. our research into the functioning and efficiency of truth commissions.
Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (&HPS)
&HPS refers to research in which history of science and philosophy of science are integrated. This integrated research aims at a better understanding of the development of science, but is also relevant for contemporary issues in philosophy of science. For instance, if we investigate the epistemological and metaphysical concepts and assumptions of scientists in the past, this gives us better insight into what these scientists were doing and why they were doing it. These insights can be confronted with contemporary science and thus made relevant for contemporary debates in the philosophy of science.