Former Funded Projects

DHPB: Digital History and Philosophy of Biology (FNRS MIS)

The fields of philosophy and history of science, which study the nature, character, and generation of scientific knowledge, often confront a serious difficulty. For the last hundred years, the sciences have produced an immense quantity of journal literature, making comprehensive study of this content exceptionally difficult.

This challenge is normally met by significantly increasing the depth of our study, selecting either contemporary conceptual issues or historical actors and reconstructing their contours in detail. This is vitally important work, and has brought us deeper understanding of Darwin’s development of evolutionary theory, as well as the conceptual and causal structure of evolutionary theory, to choose only two examples.

But these are not the only approaches to which we may turn. The development of the digital humanities has provided us with the ability to extract answers to traditional humanistic research questions from thousands, even millions of pages of text. This “distant reading"complements our traditional close-reading techniques by dramatically improving our breadth, scope, and statistical power.

In recent years, the promoter has developed a tool for analyzing large sets of journal articles, and obtained a large corpus of articles spanning the entire history of the evolutionary sciences. This grant funds the next step: building momentum behind a research group developing this established work to revolutionize the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology. The grant would construct this research team, fund its publication and presentation efforts, and raise its visibility and impact by inviting multiple external researchers and running one international conference. By the conclusion of the grant, this team would be well positioned to attract further PhD students and post-doctoral fellows, as well as compete for large national and international grants. Read more about the project here!

This project was covered in a magazine article by