Projects

Below, you will find information about the projects that I am currently working on.

 

1. Jeroen de Ridder, Rene van Woudenberg, and I recently received a large research grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. Together with an interdisciplinary team of 15 researchers, we will investigate the epistemic responsibilities of the university in a three year project (September 2016 – August 2019). 

Here's more information about the project: The Epistemic Responsibilities of the University.

Any comments and suggestions, as well as ideas about joint work, are welcome!

The project is important because there is a choir of critical voices lamenting the current state of higher education. It has been argued that universities have betrayed their original mission and sold their souls to economic and political interests. Universities and their students are said to be underachieving, failing to deliver what can be expected of them. Recent years have witnessed various scandals involving fraudulent or otherwise irresponsible behavior on the part of academics, such as the social psychologist and ‘lying Dutchman’ Diederik Stapel. These criticisms and incidents undermine the proper authority and credibility of academia. This project will explore the fundamental knowledge-related values that underlie academic teaching and research and the responsibilities that flow from these values. Among these responsibilities are inculcating in students intellectual virtues, such as a love for the truth, the ability to make sensible, rational, wise, and balanced judgments about complex matters, teaching them how to carry out academic research, and kindling interest in the Big Questions, for instance how all the various fields of learning hang together. Moreover, universities have a responsibility to preserve and hand down the great traditions of history, literature, and art and they have all sorts of responsibilities with regard to research that imply, among other things, academic integrity.

2. I've just finished a book manuscript on the ethics of belief, entitled Responsible Belief: A Theory in Ethics and Epistemology (New York: Oxford University Press, November 2016). In this book I argue that we have no doxastic obligations, that is, no obligations to hold particular beliefs. This is because we lack the kind of control over our beliefs that is necessary for having such obligations. I argue that we are nevertheless responsible for our beliefs, because we can influence our beliefs by exercising control over factors that make a difference to what we believe, such as our evidence regarding certain propositions and our intellectual virtues and vices. I call obligations to exercise such influence 'intellectual obligations' and provide an account of what our intellectual obligations are, in particular our epistemic intellectual obligations. Also, I discuss several excuses for violating such obligations and for holding the ensuing beliefs and discuss the ramifications of that for an account of responsible belief.