Dissertations completed at the Institute for Philosophy since 2005


Ansten Klev
Categories and Logical Syntax
4 September 2014
Supervisor: prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm

The notions of category and type are here studied through the lens of logical syntax: Aristotle's as well as Kant's categories through the traditional form of proposition `S is P', and modern doctrines of type through the Fregean form of proposition `F(a)', function applied to argument. Topics covered include the conception of categories as highest genera; the parts of speech and their relation to categories; the attempt to derive categories from more fundamental notions; the notion of a range of significance; the notion of a type assignment; sortal concepts and the notions of identity and generality; and the distinction between formal and material categories.

Wang Qi
Boethius and the Importance of Basic Logic and Mathematics for Philosophy
6 March 2014
Supervisor: prof.dr. F.A.J. de Haas

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (480-525 A.D.) is regarded as a great thinker of the early Middle Ages. Indeed, Boethius is a man of immense erudition and his works touch upon many philosophical fields, including mathematics, logic and theology. In Boethius’ classification system, mathematics and theology belong to speculative philosophy, and logic is both a part of philosophy and an instrument of philosophy. However, scholars from different fields tend to focus only on the part of Boethius’ thoughts that relate to their own disciplines. The result is a lack of understanding Boethius as a whole. In my dissertation, I will reassess Boethius’ mathematics and logic, and their roles in philosophy, and on the basis of these, I will explore the connections between mathematics and logic in Boethius and their applications to theological or philosophical topics. However, I will not focus on the applications of al l his mathematical and logical knowledge but only on his basic ideas of arithmetic and music, and basic logic including knowledge of categories, theories of division and definition.

Wout Cornelissen
Politics between Philosophy and Polemics: Political Thinking and Thoughtful Politics in the Writing of Karl Popper, Leo Strauss, and Hannah Arendt
15 January 2014
Supervisor: prof.dr. P. Kleingeld

Political philosophy is not only a form of theory, but also a practice. If we wish to learn something about politics, therefore, we should focus not only on its propositional content, but also on its performative meaning. This dissertation offers a reconstruction of the propositional contents of the writings of Karl Popper, Leo Strauss, and Hannah Arendt while bringing these into discussion with their performative meanings, such as polemical forms of reasoning, analogical and metaphorical uses of language, and hidden assumptions that become manifest as soon as people start acting upon them. First, it is demonstrated that Popper prescribes a conception of politics that is modeled after science, while he performs a polemical conception of politics. Next, it is shown that Strauss is aware of the performative condition of philosophy, whereas his way of framing it in terms of the mutually hostile opposition between phi losophy and politics and his remedy of the art of writing amount to an unrealistic escape from it. Finally, it is argued that Arendt not only shows to be aware of the contingent character of human action, but also develops forms of political thinking that do justice to it.


Alfred van der Helm
A Token of Individuality : Questiones Libri Porphirii by Thomas Manlevelt
22 March 2012
Supervisor: prof.dr. E.P. Bos

This is a critical edition with introduction and indices of the Questiones libri Porphirii, a commentary on Porphyry’s Isagoge attributed to the fourteenth-century logician Thomas Manlevelt. Not much is known about Thomas Manlevelt, but his work is remarkable enough. Following in the footsteps of William of Ockham, Manlevelt stresses the individual nature of all things existing in the outside world. He radically challenges traditional medieval conceptions of the outside world. He applies Ockham’s Principle of Parsimony in an unscrupulous manner to do away with all entities not deemed necessary to preserve. In the end, Manlevelt even maintains that substance does not exist. The introduction to this edition sketches the historical and philosophical background of this logical-semantical text, in which individuality and the accidental play the key role. This edition contributes to our knowledge of the development of Ockhamism on the continent. Moreover, it confronts us with a hitherto hardly known thinker whose ideas may prove to be of more than just historical value.

Judith Dijs
Hervaeus Natalis, De secundis intentionibus, Distinctiones I&II : Critical Edition with Introduction and Indices
20 March 2012
Supervisors: prof.dr. E.P. Bos, prof.dr. F.A.J. de Haas

This critical edition covers the first two parts of De secundis intentionibus by Hervaeus Natalis (14th century). The introduction provides background information about the chronological and philosophical context of this work. At the beginning of the 14th century, the exact meaning and use of the intentio and the species intelligibilis formed an important theme in ontology, epistemology and logic. Compared to existing theories of, for instance, Thomas Aquinas, Hervaeus offers a new approach to the subject.


Victor Gijsbers
Explanation and Determination
28 September 2011 (cum laude)
Supervisors: prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm and dr. J.W. McAllister

The author proposes a new theory of explanation that combines ideas about interventions, deduction, and contrastive explanation. The thesis also contains a refutation of unificationist theories; a series of arguments against inference to the best explanation; discussions of contrastive explanation and the role of indeterminism in explanation; and an analysis of the role of laws and causality in understanding.


Leon de Bruin
Mind in Practice : A Pragmatic and Interdisciplinary Account of Intersubjectivity
29 September 2010 (cum laude)
Supervisor: prof.dr. G.Glas

This book is about what happens when two people meet. Its main aim is to present an account of intersubjectivity. Most contemporary explanations of intersubjectivity fall into two main categories: theory theory and simulation theory. This book seeks to undermine the picture of intersubjectivity taken for granted by these accounts, and instead shows what social sense-making looks like from a pragmatic point of view. It proposes that intersubjectivity is enabled through a large range of second-person practices: (i) embodied practices allow us to employ various innate or early developing capacities that constitute a base-line for social understanding, (ii) embedded practices enable us to understand others within a broader social and pragmatic context, and (iii) narrative practices provide us with stories about self and other in order to further fine-tune and sophisticate our intersubjective interactions.

Zsolt Novák
A Priori Truth in the Natural World : A Non-referentialist Response to Benacerraf's Dilemma
23 June 2010 (cum laude)
Supervisors: prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm and dr. J.W. McAllister

The main question that I address in my thesis is how we can best conceive the contrast between a priori and empirical truths. My response is realist and naturalist in character: I suggest that the essential feature of a priori truths is that they consist in the obtaining of some realistically understood conditions in the domain of representations within human heads, rather than in the obtaining of those conditions that they typically purport to be about. This representationist constual cannot be reconciled with the received referentialist understanding of truth. Accordingly, my thesis can be seen as a case against standard referentialism about truth. After a detailed exposition and appropriate generalisation of Benacerraf’s dilemma about mathematical truth, I argue for two major claims. First, I demonstrate that among the most striking characteristics of our paradigm a priori beliefs about causally inert entities there are some, which cannot be suitably explained from a referentialist perspective, so that perspective must be wrong. Second, I argue that if we adopt an alternative, use-theoretic notion of truth, then the suggested representationist construal of apriority can meet all major explanatory adequacy conditions, and thus qualifies as a viable characterisation of the subject.

Omid Tofighian

Myth and Philosophy on Stage in Platonic Dialogues
19 January 2010
Supervisor: prof.dr. F.A.J. de Haas 

This thesis consists of two components: first, I question and reposition the most dominant academic perspectives pertaining to the relationship between myth and philosophy; second, I analyze Plato’s use of myth to demonstrate my reevaluation of the issue by formulating and testing my own interdisciplinary methodology which I term ‘mutual scaffolding’. I will investigate the dynamic interaction between myth and philosophy in six dialogues and argue that the interaction is based on a unity of the forms of discourse rather than division. In other words, instead of defining the communication between myth and philosophy in terms of opposition I argue that in specific cases, particularly in my selection of Platonic dialogues, the two forms of discourse participate in an interdependent unity.


Jaap van der Stel
Psychopathologie - grondslagen, determinanten, mechanismen
24 April 2009
Supervisor: prof.dr. G.Glas

available in Dutch


Marije Martijn
Proclus on Nature. Philosophy of Nature and its Methods in Proclus' Commentary on Plato's Timaeus
3 April 2008 (cum laude)
Supervisor: prof.dr. F.A.J. de Haas 

One of the hardest questions to answer for a (Neo)platonist is to what extent and how the changing and unreliable world of sense perception can itself be an object of scientific knowledge. My dissertation is a study of the answer given to that question by the Neoplatonist Proclus (Athens, 411-485) in his Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus. I present a new explanation of Proclus’ concept of nature and show that philosophy of nature consists of several related subdisciplines matching the ontological stratification of nature. Moreover, I demonstrate that for Proclus philosophy of nature is a science, albeit a hypothetical one, which takes geometry as its methodological paradigm. I also offer an explanation of Proclus’ view of what is later called the mathematization of physics, i.e. the role of the substance of mathematics, as opposed to its method, in explaining the natural world. Finally, I discuss Proclus’ views of the discourse of philosophy of nature and its iconic character.


Mariska Leunissen
Explanation and Teleology in Aristotle's Philosophy of Nature
26 June 2007 (cum laude)
Supervisor: prof.dr. F.A.J. de Haas

This dissertation explores Aristotle’s use of teleology as a principle of explanation, especially as it is used in the natural treatises. Its main purposes are, first, to determine the function, structure, and explanatory power of teleological explanations in four of Aristotle’s natural treatises, that is, in Physica (book II), De Anima, De Partibus Animalium (including the practice in books II-IV), and De Caelo (book II). Its second purpose is to confront these findings about Aristotle’s practice in the natural treatises with the theoretical picture of the structure of teleological explanations gained from Aristotle’s theory of scientific demonstration. For this purpose a new interpretation of Analytica Posteriora II.11 is presented. This study thereby contributes to recent scholarship on the relation between Aristotle’s philosophy of science and his philosophy of nature, while at the same time adding to our knowledge of Aristotle’s notion of teleology in terms of its explanatory merits and limits.

Helge Rückert
Dialogues as a Dynamic Framework for Logic
26 June 2007
Supervisor: prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm

Dialogical logic is a game-theoretical approach to logic. Logic is studied with the help of certain games, which can be thought of as idealized argumentations. Two players, the Proponent, who puts forward the initial thesis and tries to defend it, and the Opponent, who tries to attack the Proponent’s thesis, alternately utter argumentative moves according to certain rules. For a long time the dialogical approach had been worked out only for classical and intuitionistic logic. The seven papers of this dissertation show that this narrowness was uncalled for. The initial paper presents an overview and serves as an introduction to the other papers. Those papers are related by one central theme. As each of them presents dialogical formulations of a different non-classical logic, they show that dialogical logic constitutes a powerful and flexible general framework for the development and study of various logical formalisms and combinations thereof. As such it is especially attractive to logical pluralists that reject the idea of “the single correct logic”. The collection contains treatments of free logic, modal logic, relevance logic, connexive logic, linear logic, and multi-valued logic.


Catarina Dutilh Novaes
Formalizations après la lettre. Studies in Medieval Logic and Semantics
17 January 2006 (cum laude)
Supervisors: prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm and prof.dr. E.P Bos

This thesis is on the history and philosophy of logic and semantics. Logic can be described as the ‘science of reasoning’, as it deals primarily with correct patterns of reasoning. However, logic as a discipline has undergone dramatic changes in the last two centuries: while for ancient and medieval philosophers it belonged essentially to the realm of language studies, it has currently become a sub-branch of mathematics. This thesis attempts to establish a dialogue between the modern and the medieval traditions in logic, by means of ‘translations’ of the medieval logical theories into the modern framework of symbolic logic, i.e. formalizations. One of its conclusions is that, when properly understood within their own framework, the interest of medieval logical theories for modern investigations go beyond mere historical interest, but that a thorough conceptual analysis of such theories must be undertaken in order to avoid conceptual misprojections. While such translations of medieval into modern logic have been attempted before, the approach presented here is innovative in that attention is paid to the similarities as well as to the dissimilarities between the two traditions, and to what can be learned from the medieval masters for modern investigations in logic and semantics.


Haedewych van Kampen
Heideggers "Dasein" en de mechanica van de levende natuur
20 April 2005
Supervisor: prof.dr. Th.C.W Oudemans

Vincent Blok
Rondom de vloedlijn. Filosofie en kunst in het machinale tijdperk: een confrontatie tussen Heidegger en Jünger
20 April 2005
Supervisor: prof.dr. Th.C.W Oudemans

Last Modified: 15-10-2014