Mieke Boon

prof.dr.ir.

  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated based on no. of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1992 …2021

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Research interests

Current (interrelated) research interests are:

1) Philosophy of science for the engineering sciences

Is our picture of science adequate to understand the role of science and scientific research in (complex) design and problem-solving contexts? This research started in 2003 and aims to deconstruct the general picture of science and to come up with an alternative, in order to provide new conceptual frameworks that can help us to critically reflect on these research practices. This philosophical alternative has largely been developed in previous Vidi and Vici/Aspasia projects. Currently, it continues by addressing partly new topics such as:

- Ethics and epistemology of AI / Big Data / Machine Learning Technology in applications such as personalized medicine, scientific research and the training of human experts.

- Man and Machine - the role of human expertise in a digital society, which covers a number of topics such as hybrid intelligence, human dignity, and understanding AI systems.

- Epistemology and Methodology of scientific research in (engineering) design and problem-solving contexts. The focus is on the epistemological role of scientific models and modeling.

- Epistemology of human research strategies (i.e. epistemic strategies), which includes the roles of creativity, imagination, understanding, reflection and constructive thinking about ill-structured problems.

- Epistemology of interdisciplinary collaborations in design and problem-solving contexts.

Epistemological responsibility in scientific research aimed at design and problem-solving contexts.

 

2) Science and engineering education:

Universities expect that philosophy will contribute to the development of academic skills such as critical thinking in students. However, this usually proves to be quite a challenge. At the same time, education policy and academic education programs foresee that academic skills training must become increasingly important, firstly because these skills are crucial to tackling complex, interdisciplinary (societal) problems, and secondly because society is changing rapidly so that the knowledge learned is quickly outdated, which requires professionals to have the ability to learn new things all the time. The research into 'Science and engineering education' is, therefore, looking for ways to translate the philosophical insights that have emerged from research in the 'philosophy of science for engineering sciences' into 'service teaching' for academic engineering programs. This combined educational research and development takes place in interdisciplinary collaborations with educational researches and teachers. The emphasis is on questions such as:

- What are the academic skills that must be trained in academic engineering education?

- How can these academic skills be trained, and do we actually achieve what we aim for?

- How can philosophy of science teaching support the development of these skills?

- Is the way in which we usually teach science (for example, fundamental courses such as Newtonian mechanics, thermodynamics, etc.) appropriate for learning to use science for actually doing scientific research in design and problem-solving contexts?

- Can alternative pictures of science shed new light on these issues?

 

Past research interests:

My research project entitled “Using science in technology: towards a philosophy of the engineering sciences” aims at a philosophy of engineering sciences that provides a more adequate understanding of the role of science in technology. Its purpose is to contribute to the development of a not yet elaborated field within the philosophy of science and technology.

The focus concerns scientific research of complex systems in which interrelated physical, chemical and biological processes occur, such as biochemical and biomedical technologies. The proper technological design of these advanced technologies calls for scientifically informed approaches. This requires a better understanding of how scientific knowledge is produced that is applicable to these systems. In philosophy of technology, this type of knowledge production has been neglected, probably because up till now focus has been on the design of artefacts and not on industrial processes. A central focus of this work is how scientists in the ‘laboratory sciences’ develop scientific theories, laws and models, instruments and experiments, in particular, on how their reasoning in these practices can be better understood. Several of the themes are: empiricism, phenomena, scientific laws, models, scientific instruments, scientific explanations and understanding, and the construction of models.

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