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Projects financed with external funding

Creative Abductive Inference and Its Role for IM: Contingent Necessity, Possibility and Explanations

Project members: Gerhard Schurz (PI), Christian J. Feldbacher-Escamilla (Postdoc), Maria Sekatskaya (Postdoc)

Abstract: In this project, the reach of the abductive methodology in metaphysics is tested along the lines of the concepts of nomological necessity and possibility that play a role in almost all domains of metaphysical explanations. We investigate whether and to what extent these notions or variants of them (e.g., lawlikeness versus fundamental lawhood, physical versus metaphysical necessity) can themselves be justified by abductive inferences meeting the rationality criteria for scientific abduction, unification and independent testability, in order to yield a notion of necessity that fits the practice of natural science. Particular attention is given to the role of independent evidence for nomological possibility based on assumptions about freedom. Finally, we will systematically investigate the different kinds of explanation employed in the abductive inferences in Inductive Metaphysics.

Metaphysics of Evolution: Justification and Ontology of Generalized Evolution Theory

Project members: Gerhard Schurz (PI), Karim Baraghith (Postdoc)

Abstract: In generalized evolution (GE) theory, the three core principles of the theory of evolution − reproduction, variation and selection − are detached from their biological basis, abstracted and extended to other domains, in particular to the domain of culture in the broad sense (including language, law, science and technology). This project investigates the abductive justifiability and ontological assumptions of GE theory and in particular of cultural evolution (CE) theory, which is the most important subfield of GE theory. The research agenda of this project consist of the following work packages: We will investigate the extent to which CE theory can be abductively justified as the best explanation of long-term developments in human culture. Given that CE theory has an abductive justification, the metaphysical notion of generalized evolution can be justified by a second level abduction. We will also investigate the unifying dynamical principles and ontological assumptions of GE theory and their predictive content.

Acquired information structures or 'memes' are crucial for CE theory. The elaboration of their ontology is the third main task of the project. It is based on the leading idea that 'memes' can be identified with neuronal structures in the (human) brain. A further important pair of ontological notions, both for GE theory and CE theory, is that of population and of (quasi-)species. While the biological concept of a population based on interbreeding is too narrow and unsuitable for CE theory, several generalized notions of population have been developed in biological evolution (BE) theory. Their applicability to CE theory will be investigated in the final part of the project.

Creative Abductive Inference and Its Role for Inductive Metaphysics

Project A2 of the DFG research group 2495 "Inductive Metaphysics"
Aims of the project: We explore creative abductive inference and inference to the best explanation as methods of Inductive Metaphysics. For this purpose, conceptual and methodological issues are clarified and the role of an abductive methodology within metaphysics is investigated.
Funding body and project life span: DFG research group 2495, 04/2017 - 03/2023
Research assistants: Dr. Siegfried Jaag, Mag. Christian Feldbacher-Escamilla

Statistical Causation, Intervention, and Freedom

Project B5 of the DFG research group 2495 "Inductive Metaphysics"
Aims of the project: Project B5 intends to answer questions and develop solutions to problems concerning human action and freedom in an empirically informed way instead of relying only on intuitions and conceptual analysis.
Funding body and project life span: DFG research group 2495, 04/2017 - 03/2020
Research assistants: Dr. Maria Sekatskaya, Dr. Alexander Gebharter (former research assistant)