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Philosophy of Multidisciplinary Research


February 28 2024: Online start-up at 13.15-15
March 13-15 2024 on site in Lund

Registration deadline: December 31, 2023

Venue: LUX building at Helgonavägen 3, 22362 Lund

Teaching methods: Lectures and seminars

Examination: A written paper summarising the literature. The paper should be six pages in a two column format. You will receive a template for the paper prior to the course together with further instructions.

Paper deadline:
The examination paper should be submitted to ingar.brinck@fil.lu.se no later than ??.

Course coordinator: Ingar Brinck, Lund University

Course description

The course will introduce the philosophical tools for conducting interdisciplinary research in the humanities and social sciences about AI and autonomous systems.

The course has two parts. Part 1 presents a few central distinctions in the philosophy of science, social sciences, and humanities while discussing fundamental issues about truth, knowledge, reality, and the aim of scientific research, and provides the basic conceptual tools for conducting interdisciplinary research. Part 2 offers an introduction to interdisciplinarity and reviews ontological, conceptual, and methodological problems commonly associated with pluralism including strategies for handling them.

The theoretical material is applied to the research on AI and autonomous systems in the humanities and social sciences, and the social and cultural perspectives on AI and AS are highlighted. Philosophical skills will be trained in oral and written exercises during the course, in discussion time during lectures, and in the written assignment (see below).


Examination: Individual written assignment. You will be asked to apply insights from the course to your own research project. Further information about the assignment will be given during the course.


Learning outcomes

  • demonstrate knowledge about the varieties of interdisciplinarity and understanding of the philosophical issues at stake in interdisciplinary research,
  • discuss key concepts within the philosophy of science incl. the social sciences and humanities and their relevance for conducting scientific research,
  • critically examine fundamental theoretical assumptions in interdisciplinary research in the social sciences and humanities and their impact on the outcome of the research,
  • describe the relevance of philosophical key concepts for their dissertation work,
  • identify fundamental philosophical issues and problems of relevance for their dissertation work and explain how these might be approached.

Reading List

(may be subject to minor changes)

n.b. in three parts (Pts 1-3)

The literature is available through your university libraries. Additionally, web-links will be distributed separately for texts marked with an asterisk (*). If you have difficulties finding the texts, please contact the teacher well in advance of the course start.

You will find instructions for self-study of the texts in preparation for the course in the document Reading Instrux Self Study. The document will be uploaded 2 months in advance of the course start.

Please note that the list of Optional Readings is not yet complete. A few articles will be added when the term has started. You are not required to read the entries under Optional Readings ahead of the course (i.e., the days in Lund).

Texts for exercises and study groups

The teaching exercises will be based in the texts in the reading list. To facilitate participation in any teaching activities, be certain to have all texts on the Reading List available (e.g., on your hard drive or on-line) during class when in Lund (including the Optional Readings).

Part 1. Philosophy of the social sciences and humanities: Disciplinary resarch

*Rosenberg, Alexander. 2008. Philosophy of Social Science. 3rd ed. Routledge. Excerpts:

-“-. What is the philosophy of social science? pp. 3-28.

-“-. Reasons and causes, pp. 36-38.

-“-. Rules and causes. Social construction of society, pp. 107-115.

*Little, Daniel. 1990. Varieties of Social Explanation. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Science. Boulder: Westview. Excerpts:

-“- . Introduction, pp. 1-9.

-“- . Interpretation theory, pp. 67-87.

-“- . Beyond positivism: Methodological pluralism 1-19 20p

*Little, D. Scientific Method. November 1995. Anthropology Newsletter, 1-5.

*Popper, K. 1959. Ch.1: A survey of some fundamental problems. In: The Logic of Scientific Discovery, pp. 3-34.

*Gadamer, G. 1960. The intentional circle. Excerpts from Truth and Method, pp. 1-10.

Grant, A. & Osanloo, C. 2014. Understanding, Selecting, and Integrating a Theoretical Framework in Dissertation Research. Administrative Issues Journal, 12-25. DOI: 10.5929/2014.4.2.9 13p.


Haslanger, S. 1995. Ontology and social construction. Philosophical topics, 23 (2), 95-125.

*Rosenberg, A. 2008. Additional excerpt: Social science and the enduring problems of philosophy, pp. 241-252.


Part 2. Interdisciplinary reseacrg (IDR)


Boon, M., Van Baalen, S. 2019. Epistemology for interdisciplinary research – shifting philosophical paradigms of science. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 9, 16. 1-28.


O’Rourke, M., Crowley, S., Gonnerman, C. 2016. On the nature of cross-disciplinary integration: A philosophical framework. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C. 56, 62-70.


Thorén, H., Persson, J. 2013. The Philosophy of Interdisciplinarity: Sustainability Science and Problem-Feeding. Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 44, 337–355.




Boon, M., van Baalen, S., Groenier, M. 2019. Interdisciplinary expertise in medical practice: Challenges of using and producing knowledge in complex problem-solving, Medical Teacher, 41:6, 668-677. DOI: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1544417

Brister, E. 2016. Disciplinary capture and epistemological obstacles to interdisciplinary research: Lessons from central African conservation disputes. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 5, 82- 91. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.11.001

Hantrais, L. 2014. Methodological pluralism in international comparative research, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 17:2, 133-145. DOI: 10.1080/13645579.2014.892656


Choi BC, Pak AW. 2006. Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness. Clinical and investigative medicine, 29(6):351-64.

Pedersen, D. 2016. Integrating social sciences and humanities in interdisciplinary research. Palgrave Communications 2, 16036. 1-7p. https://doi.org/10.1057/palcomms.2016.36


Kuutti K, Bannon LJ. 2014. The turn to practice in HCI: Towards a research agenda. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI ’14. Association for Computing Machinery. Eds. Jones M, Palanque P, Schmidt A, Grossman T, pp. 3543-3552.


Ostrowski, A.K., Breazeal, C., & Park, H.W. 2020. Design research in HRI: Roboticists, design features, and users as co-designers. IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication 2021. Workshop on Designerly HRI Knowledge.


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