Philosophy of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Methodology courses and philosophy of science

Course information

ECTS: 2.5 
Number of sessions: 4
Hours per session: 3
Course fee:

  • free for PhD candidates of the Graduate School
  • €525,- for non-members
  • consult our enrolment policy for more information


Telephone: +31 (0)10 4082607 (Graduate School)

In the academic year 2020-2021 this course will take place online.

Session 1
September 28 (Monday) 2020

Session 2
October 5 (Monday) 2020

Session 3
October 29 (Thursday) 2020

Session 4
November 5 (Thursday) 2020

Aims and working method

This course offers an advanced view on the Philosophy of Social Sciences and the Humanities. Perspectives and developments from various fields and disciplines are covered using a framework that integrates historic, systematic, and thematic dimensions. 

Methodological, theoretical, and philosophical questions are discussed in their mutual interrelatedness; participants are encouraged to present issues from within their own fields, and discuss them in an interdisciplinary manner.

The course will consist of four four-hour sessions and will didactically based on two principles:

  • a layered structure: we work from the more general towards the more concrete. However, cases and experiences can and should be discussed on all levels of generality or specificity!
  • as a consequence, for all sessions participants will be challenged to provide cases and examples from their own field or experience.

Participants will be informed well in advance by email on how to prepare for the sessions.

Learning objectives

After course completion participants:

  • know when and why reflection on methodological, theoretical, and philosophical questions is useful and necessary;
  • have insight in the historical and systematical background of methodological and theoretical approaches;
  • are able to reflect on the relation between humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and;
  • understand the most important philosophical perspectives on social sciences and the humanities from the last two centuries.

Session descriptions

Session 1: Humanities and social sciences: affinities & discrepancies

  • The main questions in this session will be: what constitutes/ unites/separates the humanities (‘Geisteswissenschaften’) and the social sciences? How do these relate to: philosophy, and ‘philosophy of arts and sciences’?
  • Next to a general introduction to these issues, we will have short introductions by the participants on their own research, and some preliminary reflections on this subject.

Session 2: A philosophical take on arts & sciences

  • In this session the full research projects of the participants will be read and discussed. Issues of methodology and philosophy will be identified, diagnosed, and evaluated. Some key philosophical authors will be identified and discussed.

Session 3: Participants prepare and discuss specific methodological questions regarding the research project of one of the other participants.

  • Participants formulate theses (supported by argumentation) and send these around in advance. They also indicate methodological/philosophical issues they would like to have discussed, by the instructor, and/or the other participants.

Session 4: Reflections on research practice

  • We discuss one or more texts from relevant authors in the field of humanities and/or social sciences, based on reasoned requests brought forward in the previous session by the participants.

About the instructor

Gijs van Oenen is Associate Professor in Practical Philosophy at the Erasmus School of Philosophy (ESPhil) of Erasmus University Rotterdam. He received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 1994, with a dissertation on legal philosophy.

His research focuses on political theory, rule of law, 'gedogen' (forebearance), multiculturalism, architecture, (art and) public space and interpassivity. Van Oenen plays an active role in academic as well as in public political, social and philosophical debates.