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Profile: Maarten Boudry (University of Ghent)
  1. Taner Edis & Maarten Boudry (forthcoming). Beyond Physics? On the Prospects of Finding a Meaningful Oracle. Foundations of Science:1-20.
    Certain enterprises at the fringes of science, such as intelligent design creationism, claim to identify phenomena that go beyond not just our present physics but any possible physical explanation. Asking what it would take for such a claim to succeed, we introduce a version of physicalism that formulates the proposition that all available data sets are best explained by combinations of “chance and necessity”—algorithmic rules and randomness. Physicalism would then be violated by the existence of oracles that produce certain kinds (...)
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  2. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.) (forthcoming). The Philosophy of Pseudoscience. University of Chicago Press.
  3. Maarten Boudry & Michael Vlerick (2014). Natural Selection Does Care About Truth. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (1):65-77.
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  4. Filip Buekens & Maarten Boudry (2014). The Dark Side of the Loon. Explaining the Temptations of Obscurantism. Theoria 80 (2).
    After contrasting obscurantism with bullshit, we explore some ways in which obscurantism is typically justified by investigating a notorious test-case: defences of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Obscurantism abuses the reader's natural sense of curiosity and interpretive charity with the promise of deep and profound insights about a designated subject matter that is often vague or elusive. When the attempt to understand what the speaker means requires excessive hermeneutic efforts, interpreters are reluctant to halt their quest for meaning. We diagnose this as a (...)
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  5. Maarten Boudry (2013). Loki's Wager and Laudan's Error: On Genuine and Territorial Demarcation. In Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.), Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem. University of Chicago Press. 79--98.
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  6. Maarten Boudry (2013). The Hypothesis That Saves the Day: Ad Hoc Reasoning in Pseudoscience. Logique Et Analyse 223:245-258.
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  7. Maarten Boudry & Massimo Pigliucci (2013). The Mismeasure of Machine: Synthetic Biology and the Trouble with Engineering Metaphors. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (4):660-668.
    The scientific study of living organisms is permeated by machine and design metaphors. Genes are thought of as the ‘‘blueprint’’ of an organism, organisms are ‘‘reverse engineered’’ to discover their func- tionality, and living cells are compared to biochemical factories, complete with assembly lines, transport systems, messenger circuits, etc. Although the notion of design is indispensable to think about adapta- tions, and engineering analogies have considerable heuristic value (e.g., optimality assumptions), we argue they are limited in several important respects. In (...)
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  8. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (2013). Prove It! The Burden of Proof Game in Science Vs. Pseudoscience Disputes. Philosophia 42 (2):487-502.
    The concept of burden of proof is used in a wide range of discourses, from philosophy to law, science, skepticism, and even in everyday reasoning. This paper provides an analysis of the proper deployment of burden of proof, focusing in particular on skeptical discussions of pseudoscience and the paranormal, where burden of proof assignments are most poignant and relatively clear-cut. We argue that burden of proof is often misapplied or used as a mere rhetorical gambit, with little appreciation of the (...)
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  9. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.) (2013). Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem. University of Chicago Press.
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  10. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (2013). Why the Demarcation Problem Matters. In Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem.
    Ever since Socrates, philosophers have been in the business of asking ques- tions of the type “What is X?” The point has not always been to actually find out what X is, but rather to explore how we think about X, to bring up to the surface wrong ways of thinking about it, and hopefully in the process to achieve an increasingly better understanding of the matter at hand. In the early part of the twentieth century one of the most (...)
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  11. Maarten Boudry & Johan Braeckman (2012). How Convenient! The Epistemic Rationale of Self-Validating Belief Systems. Philosophical Psychology 25 (3):341-364.
    This paper offers an epistemological discussion of self-validating belief systems and the recurrence of ?epistemic defense mechanisms? and ?immunizing strategies? across widely different domains of knowledge. We challenge the idea that typical ?weird? belief systems are inherently fragile, and we argue that, instead, they exhibit a surprising degree of resilience in the face of adverse evidence and criticism. Borrowing from the psychological research on belief perseverance, rationalization and motivated reasoning, we argue that the human mind is particularly susceptible to belief (...)
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  12. Stefaan Blancke, Maarten Boudry & Johan Braeckman (2011). Simulation of Biological Evolution Under Attack, but Not Really: A Response to Meester. Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):113-118.
    The leading Intelligent Design theorist William Dembski (Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham MD, 2002) argued that the first No Free Lunch theorem, first formulated by Wolpert and Macready (IEEE Trans Evol Comput 1: 67–82, 1997), renders Darwinian evolution impossible. In response, Dembski’s critics pointed out that the theorem is irrelevant to biological evolution. Meester (Biol Phil 24: 461–472, 2009) agrees with this conclusion, but still thinks that the theorem does apply to simulations of evolutionary processes. According to Meester, the theorem shows (...)
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  13. Maarten Boudry (2011). Exploring the Hinterland of Science. Metascience 20 (1):173-176.
  14. Maarten Boudry & Johan Braeckman (2011). Immunizing Strategies and Epistemic Defense Mechanisms. Philosophia 39 (1):145-161.
    An immunizing strategy is an argument brought forward in support of a belief system, though independent from that belief system, which makes it more or less invulnerable to rational argumentation and/or empirical evidence. By contrast, an epistemic defense mechanism is defined as a structural feature of a belief system which has the same effect of deflecting arguments and evidence. We discuss the remarkable recurrence of certain patterns of immunizing strategies and defense mechanisms in pseudoscience and other belief systems. Five different (...)
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  15. Maarten Boudry & Filip Buekens (2011). The Epistemic Predicament of a Pseudoscience: Social Constructivism Confronts Freudian Psychoanalysis. Theoria 77 (2):159-179.
    Social constructivist approaches to science have often been dismissed as inaccurate accounts of scientific knowledge. In this article, we take the claims of robust social constructivism (SC) seriously and attempt to find a theory which does instantiate the epistemic predicament as described by SC. We argue that Freudian psychoanalysis, in virtue of some of its well-known epistemic complications and conceptual confusions, provides a perfect illustration of what SC claims is actually going on in science. In other words, the features SC (...)
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  16. Maarten Boudry, Helen De Cruz, Stefaan Blancke & Johan De Smedt (2011). Het 'Universele Zuur' van de Evolutionaire Psychologie? Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 73 (2):287-305.
    In a previous issue of Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, Filip Buekens argues that evolutionary psychology (EP), or some interpretations thereof, have a corrosive impact on our ‘manifest self-image’. Buekens wants to defend and protect the global adequacy of this manifest self-image in the face of what he calls evolutionary revisionism. Although we largely agree with Buekens’ central argument, we criticize his analysis on several accounts, making some constructive proposals to strengthen his case. First, Buekens’ argument fails to target EP, because his (...)
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  17. Maarten Boudry & Bert Leuridan (2011). Where the Design Argument Goes Wrong: Auxiliary Assumptions and Unification. Philosophy of Science 78 (4):558-578.
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  18. Helen de Cruz, Maarten Boudry, Johan de Smedt & Stefaan Blancke (2011). Evolutionary Approaches to Epistemic Justification. Dialectica 65 (4):517-535.
    What are the consequences of evolutionary theory for the epistemic standing of our beliefs? Evolutionary considerations can be used to either justify or debunk a variety of beliefs. This paper argues that evolutionary approaches to human cognition must at least allow for approximately reliable cognitive capacities. Approaches that portray human cognition as so deeply biased and deficient that no knowledge is possible are internally incoherent and self-defeating. As evolutionary theory offers the current best hope for a naturalistic epistemology, evolutionary approaches (...)
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  19. Christian Ferencz-Flatz, Maarten Boudry, Helen de Cruz, Johan Smedt, Zwarte Doos Ban Pandora, Katrien Schaubroeck, Jens de Vleminck, Ignace Verhack, Nicolas de Warren & Steven Spileers (2011). Das Beispiel bei Husserl. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 73 (2):261.
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  20. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (2011). Why Machine-Information Metaphors Are Bad for Science and Science Education. Science and Education 20 (453):471.
    Genes are often described by biologists using metaphors derived from computa- tional science: they are thought of as carriers of information, as being the equivalent of ‘‘blueprints’’ for the construction of organisms. Likewise, cells are often characterized as ‘‘factories’’ and organisms themselves become analogous to machines. Accordingly, when the human genome project was initially announced, the promise was that we would soon know how a human being is made, just as we know how to make airplanes and buildings. Impor- tantly, (...)
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  21. Maarten Boudry (2010). Exploring the Hinterland of Science: Massimo Pigliucci: Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2010, 332pp, $20.00 PB. [REVIEW] Metascience 20 (1):173-176.
    Book review of "Massimo Pigliucci: Nonsense on stilts: How to tell science from bunk. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2010".
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  22. Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke & Johan Braeckman (2010). How Not to Attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical Misconceptions About Methodological Naturalism. [REVIEW] Foundations of Science 15 (3):227-244.
    In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According to one popular conception, MN is a self-imposed or intrinsic limitation of science, which means that science is simply not equipped to deal with claims of the supernatural (...)
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