The Institute of Philosophy at KU Leuven invites applications for a four-year PhD position in logical geometry and philosophy of logic. The position is part of the ERC Starting Grant ‘STARTDIALOG: Towards a Systematic Theory of Aristotelian Diagrams in Logical Geometry’, led by prof. dr. Lorenz Demey. This project is embedded inside the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science (CLPS), which focuses on logic and philosophy of science, and also does research on (formal) epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. Furthermore, the STARTDIALOG project also maintains close ties with the KU Leuven Institutes Leuven.AI and LECTIO, which do research on resp. artificial intelligence and intellectual history in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Website unit
Aristotelian diagrams, such as the square of opposition, have been widely used throughout the history of philosophy and logic. Nowadays, they also have several applications in other disciplines that are concerned with logical reasoning, such as psychology, linguistics and computer science. The overarching goal of the STARTDIALOG project is to develop a unified theory of Aristotelian diagrams. In this PhD position, you will be responsible for carrying out an important and philosophically relevant part of the project, viz., to address the fundamental question why Aristotelian diagrams are used so frequently in the first place. Furthermore, you will also carry out selected case studies on philosophically relevant applications of Aristotelian diagrams. A representative but non-exhaustive list of potential research topics looks like this:
- Historically speaking, Aristotelian diagrams were primarily conceived as pedagogical devices. However, this account no longer provides a full and adequate explanation for the widespread use of Aristotelian diagrams in contemporary research. Can we develop other, more plausible explanations? One guiding hypothesis is that Aristotelian diagrams serve as powerful heuristic devices, which help to draw unexpected parallels between seemingly unrelated research contexts.
- From a more ’empirical’ or ‘practice-driven’ perspective, one might ask which motivations are given by actual users of Aristotelian diagrams, for their use of these diagrams. These users include both historical and contemporary authors, and investigating this will involve a mix of various methods (e.g. close reading of historical texts, interviews with contemporary logicians and other scientists, etc.).
- What are the similarities and dissimilarities between (i) the use of Aristotelian diagrams in logic and (ii) the use of other kinds of diagrams in other scientific disciplines. Typical examples for this kind of comparative research might include the use of Feynman diagrams in contemporary physics, or the use of commutative diagrams in algebra.
- At first sight, the areas of epistemic logic and deontic logic have much in common. Both areas have antecedents in medieval philosophy, both developed into full-fledged areas of formal logic in the 1950s, both are predominantly studied within the overarching framework of modal logic/Kripke semantics, etc. Despite all these similarities, Aristotelian diagrams are used very extensively in deontic logic, but much more rarely in epistemic logic. Is this a mere historical contingency, or can we come up with a more systematic and insightful explanation for this difference?
In addition to conducting independent and collaborative research on these (and similar) topics, the successful applicant will also be expected to actively participate in the common activities of the STARTDIALOG project, including meetings, seminars, reading groups, workshops, etc.
- You have obtained (or will very soon obtain) an outstanding MA, MSc or Research MA degree in a relevant domain (e.g. philosophy, logic, philosophy of science).
- You have some familiarity with the fundamental debates of philosophy of logic and philosophy of science (e.g. the use of diagrams in physics). If your master’s thesis was focused on a topic in this area, that is a very strong plus. In other cases, you are willing to gain the required familiarity during the first few months of the position.
- You have outstanding formal and analytical skills.
- You have outstanding reading and writing skills in English. Reading skills in other languages (e.g. French, German and especially Latin) are a plus, because of the close reading of historical texts that might become a crucial part of the PhD project.
- You are willing to work in an interdisciplinary and collaborative research environment, and to work and publish predominantly on the topic of STARTDIALOG project.
We offer a full-time PhD position for four years (subject to positive intermediate evaluations after one year and after two years), situated in the stimulating scientific environment of an ERC grant at one of Europe’s leading research universities. We offer an attractive wage and a budget for research expenses (including small equipment, travel and accommodation costs, the organization of events).
The successful candidate will be expected to spend 100% of their work time on research activities for the STARTDIALOG project.
The starting date is currently set at 1 October 2022, but this is negotiable.
For more information please contact prof. dr. Lorenz Demey via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon request, he will send you a (much) more detailed description of the STARTDIALOG project.
Applications should include a cover letter, a detailed CV, a writing sample (e.g., an excerpt of the master’s thesis or a term paper, between 10 and 20 pages) and a one-page research statement, outlining your research priorities and emphases within the general context of the STARTDIALOG project.You can apply for this job no later than August 23, 2022 via the online application toolKU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.