Mieke Boon is a full professor Philosophy of Science in Practice in the Philosophy Department at the University of Twente. This department focusses on the Philosophy of Technology. Boon has a firm background in scientific research in the engineering sciences. In 1987, she received a MSc degree (cum laude) in Chemical Engineering at Twente University of Technology (UT). In 1996, she received a PhD degree (cum laude) in Biotechnology at Technical University Delft (TUD). Between 1988 and 1995, she studied Philosophy at Leiden University (RUL) with special interest in history of philosophy, ethics, and philosophy of science. Between 1996 and 2000 she coordinated a multi-disciplinary research project (NWO-STW) on technologies in bacterial sulfur removal at TUDelft.
She was involved in establishing the Kivi Afdeling Filosofie en Techniek (1988), where she chaired a working group in Ethics and Technology (1988-1992). From 1997 until 2003 she chaired the Animal Use and Care Committee of the Free University of Amsterdam (VU-DEC). In 2004, she initiated the Female Faculty Network Twente (FFNT), which she chaired until 2006. In 2006, she initiated the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP), of which she was a board member until 2016. Since 2015 she is member of the European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA) steering committee, and chair of the Section Theoretical Philosophy of National Dutch Research School in Philosophy (OZSW).
She is a core teacher in the master program Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society (PSTS) and in the bachelor program of the ATLAS University College Twente. She also delivers philosophy service-teaching in other educational programs at the UT, teaching “Ethics and Technology”, “Professional Ethics”, “Philosophy of Science”, “Philosophy of Technology.”
Between 2003-2008, she has been working on a personal research grant from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO-VIDI beurs in het kader van de Vernieuwingsimpuls) on developing a Philosophy of Science for the Engineering Sciences. Between 2012-2017 she worked on a personal research grant (NWO-Vici/Aspasi), The Context of Construction – Philosophy of Science and the Engineering Sciences. Currently, she is involved in a research project on teaching interdisciplinary engineering education (IEE) of the 4TU Centre for Engineering Education (CEE), and in an NRO project (EXChange) investigating transfer from honors to regular educational programs.
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.
UT Research Information System
Einstein, Bohr and Mach were not only great physicists; they also raised philosophical issues relevant to science. These were about proper scientific methodology, the physical interpretation of theories, and how we have access to the world behind the phenomena. Today, these questions are still important, and also new questions need to be asked. How can we assess the quality of scientific research? Can we specify methodological approaches in the engineering sciences? How are scientific research and technological innovation related? Why is it so difficult to work multi- or inter-disciplinary. How are societal values to be embedded in scientific research? My scientific research has taken a new philosophical approach towards these questions (the approach of philosophy of science in practice), with emphasis on how science is actually done. Of particular interest are methods for constructing models, for the use of instruments, and for merging causal-mechanistic and mathematical approaches in scientific research. Philosophy of science workshops that aim to address these questions, have been organized for PhD students and their supervisors within the Twente Research Institute for Nanotechnology, MESA+. In these three-weekly workshops, we discuss philosophical themes relevant for scientific research, and scientific work of these PhD students.