PhD Position in Philosophy at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Project ‘Changing Tools: An In-Depth Study of the Development of Isaac Newton’s Scientific Methodology’

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Job Type: Fellowship

Application Deadline: September 30, 2019


The research project ‘Changing Tools: An In-Depth Study of the Development of Isaac Newton’s Scientific Methodology, and its Impact and Significance’ will run at the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The research project is funded by the Special Research Fund of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. We are hiring a doctoral student who will conduct his or her doctoral research under the supervision of the PI of this project, Prof. dr. Steffen Ducheyne. This research project seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the mathematical physics and scientific methodology of Isaac Newton. It intends to contribute to the history of scientific methodology, and hence to a better historical understanding of the development of our scientific methods which are major accomplishments of our scientific culture, and to a better understanding of how mathematics establishes and secures knowledge claims in physics.

This project centres around three important goals:

  1. to trace the development of Newton’s scientific methodology from his early optical work in the 1670s to the publication of the third edition of the Principia in 1726;
  2. to explore the impact of Newton’s scientific methodology on eighteenth-century physics; and
  3. to explicate what we can learn from Newton’s work about the ability of mathematics to establish and secure knowledge claims in physics.

The PhD student to be hired will work on 1. and 3. A longer version of the project is available upon request.

Job Profile and Requirements:

  • The candidate has a strong interest in the history of science and philosophy of science and is able to combine both approaches in his or her doctoral research. Although no prior knowledge of seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century physics is required, such knowledge will be considered as a plus.
  • The candidate will publish in international journals, present his or her research at international conferences, become an active member of the Centre for Logic and Philosophy Science, and assist e.g. in the organization of workshops and conferences.
  • The candidate has an MA degree.
  • The candidate is able to independently read and translate Latin and has excellent oral and written communication skills in English.
  • The candidate is an enthusiastic team player and is self-propelling.
  • The candidate is willing to travel abroad.
  • The candidate’s doctoral research leads to a PhD dissertation which is to be completed in a 4- to 4,5-year period.
  • Female candidates are especially encouraged to apply.

Applications: Applications are welcomed in English. Please send:

  1. a cover letter describing your interest in and suitability for this PhD studentship;
  2. a full curriculum vitae (including a copy of your MA diploma, the topic of your MA dissertation, and the official list containing your MA grades);
  3. a letter of recommendation; and
  4. a representative writing sample (such as an extract from your MA dissertation, a paper that you have written, etc.) to steffen.ducheyne@vub.be before Monday 30 September 2019.

Short-listed candidates will be interviewed (if necessary, via Skype).

Posted: June 28, 2019