Université catholique de Louvain
Ethical and philosophical stakes of sciences in societies
In the last decades, the space occupied by science in our society has profoundly changed. The neutrality of science, epistemological and social, has been called into question. Integrated to research development, science is now sometimes considered as a simple element of a particular economic system. Such a position calls for a critical analysis. The complexity of t sciences and societies relations implies epistemological studies that aim to better specify the originality of science as a knowledge system. In addition, each particular technology interferes with social mechanisms according to modes that call for an ethical evaluation.
Since most ESST students that will come at the UCL are not trained as philosophers, we have planned a formation based on two tools.
All theses will be co-supervised by the Prof. Bernard Feltz, by the Prof. Alexandre Guay or by the Prof. Peter Verdée. No student will have only one supervisor. No student will have only one supervisor.
Frequently and depending on the particular subject thesis, another co-supervisor will be added. Our final list of co-supervisors will be available soon.In order to give the best quality of supervision, no more than 3-4 students will be allowed in this specialization.
Some examples of thesis topics
These suggestions are only here to give a general idea of what it is possible to do. The definitive subject will be the result of exchanges between the student and the supervisors.
Scientific expertise, the relations between sciences and ideologies, the authority of science, the neutrality of science, intellectual propriety, biotechnologies and the status of life forms, ecology and sustainable development.
Examples of specific topics that could be explored from a philosophical point of view:
GMO, nanotechnologies, the mad cow disease, energy policy, electromagnetic wave and health
To come to the UCL does not presuppose speaking French. The graduate seminar and the supervision of students are performed in English.
Description of the research centre
Founded in 1958 by Prof. Jean Ladrière, the Center for Philosophy of Science and Societies (CEFISES) of the Higher Institute of Philosophy epistemological and social questions raised by today science. Interdisciplinary studies are central: philosophical analysis benefits from the scientific matters it considers. That is why most of the center members have dual training in philosophy and science.
Thanks to its close connection to scientific disciplines (physics, biology, cognitive or social sciences, economics…), the CEFISES examines, by means of analytic methods, general topics as well as issues specific to individual scientific disciplines. The fundamental question is the cognitive value of models, their link to reality and to different underlying conceptions of human and nature. Science is one of the most important features of modernity. It is central in the evolution of contemporary societies, at the national as well as the international level. The interdisciplinary Center for Philosophy of Science and Societies (CEFISES) aims at analyzing scientific activity in its various aspects and studying the new connections between natural and social sciences and philosophy which are emerging.
1) The first objective is to define the characteristics of (formal and empirical) various explanatory strategies, which are used in natural and social sciences in their search of truth. It means that the logics of explanation are studied in order to underline the relevance and limits of their cognitive purpose. The anthropology and metaphysics which are involved when a discipline tries to understand its object are taken into account too.
2) The second objective is to analyse the various interactions between science and societies, so as to check whether they fit democratic life. These interactions are especially studied in the impact of technology on the social working and ethics. Scientific and technological progress changes our way of living, representations and systems of values. This analysis leads to several proposals for a knowledge society which could serve humankind.
Main areas of research:
Philosophy of social sciences:
Governance theory and epistemology of social sciences
Governance for sustainable development and new forms of collective action
Science, Technology, Ethics, and Societies:
The expert’s function about technological progress
The concept of sustainable development, its connection with the international economic dynamics, the precautionary principle, and the situation of developing countries.
The study of relation between science and religion
Université catholique de Louvain’s facts and figures
UCL is a large, international community:
UCL is responsible for the education of nearly one out of two French-speaking academics in Belgium and proposes courses in all possible disciplines:
Research, performed in close collaboration with the private and public sector and international institutions, is one of UCL’s main activities:
Information and contact details for accommodation
Help to find accomodation as an international student can be found at this link.
UCL representative in the ESST network
Prof. Alexandre Guay; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org