Maarten Boudry

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Maarten Boudry
Maarten Boudry.jpg
Born (1984-08-15) 15 August 1984 (age 34)
Moorslede, Belgium
Residence Ghent, Belgium
Nationality Flemish, Belgian
Other names Robert A. Maundy
Alma mater Ghent University
School Scientific skepticism
Main interests
Epistemology, skepticism, pseudoscience
Website

Maarten Boudry

Maarten Boudry (born 15 August 1984) is a Flemish philosopher and skeptic. He has been a researcher and teaching member of the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences at Ghent University since 2006.[1] To date, he has published over 30 articles in various philosophy of science journals.[2]

Academic background[edit]

Boudry began his studies in philosophy at Ghent University in 2002, where he graduated cum laude in 2006. Between 2007 and 2011, he conducted research at Ghent University (Logic, History and Philosophy of Science), funded by a research grant from the Flemish foundation Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO). After obtaining his PhD, he became a postdoctoral fellow at Ghent University, again with the financial support of the FWO. In 2013, he was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Vienna for six months, where he worked on irrationality from an evolutionary and epistemological perspective. Boudry has undertaken many foreign study visits. Additionally, he is a frequent speaker at international conferences and gives guest lectures at academic institutions.

Boudry is a member of a number of scientifically-oriented organizations: the Flemish skeptical organization SKEPP,[3] the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion,[4] the Center for Inquiry[5] and the Imperfect Cognition research network of the Epistemic Innocence Project.[6] He is also one of the founders of Het Denkgelag,[7] which organizes skeptical conferences in Flanders.

Sokal affair[edit]

In 2011, Boudry pulled a Sokal-style hoax. Boudry wanted to put Christian philosophers to the test by writing a meaningless abstract, full of theological jargon, with the title "The Paradoxes of Darwinian Disorder. Towards an Ontological Reaffirmation of Order and Transcendence".[8] The abstract contained sentences such as, "In the Darwinian perspective, order is not immanent in reality, but it is a self-affirming aspect of reality in so far as it is experienced by situated subjects."[9] Under the anagram-pseudonym Robert A. Maundy from the fictitious College of the Holy Cross in Reno, Nevada, Boudry submitted the abstract to the organizers of the Christian philosophical conference "The Future of Creation Order" at the VU University Amsterdam and the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, which both accepted it without any reservations.[8][10] The hoax, which Boudry revealed in mid-2012 on Facebook but became more widely known only after the American scientist Jerry Coyne blogged about it,[10][11] received attention in a number of Dutch Protestant newspapers such as Reformatorisch Dagblad, Trouw, and Nederlands Dagblad.[12][13][14][15]

When asked in an interview with the Dutch popular philosophy magazine Filosofie Magazine about the reason for the hoax, Boudry said the following:

This was primarily a satirical prank for me, an exercise in grammatically correct nonsense, filled with hollow phrases and theological jargon. In that sense I seem to have succeeded, because the text was credible enough for two theology and philosophy of religion conferences: namely the conference at VU, and the 'What is life' conference, organized by the Centre of Theology and Philosophy of Nottingham University.[10]

No one had discovered that "Robert A. Maundy" and the "College of the Holy Cross" did not exist. Gerrit Glas, president of the conference at the time, found the text to be odd and said they had hesitated for a long time, but ultimately decided to give "Maundy" the benefit of the doubt.[12] Glas admitted that he should have been more critical[9] and defended himself by saying that "it is not uncommon for texts on process theology, negative theology, and postmodernism to be inscrutable".[12][12][16] Philosopher of religion Taede A. Smedes at the Radboud University Nijmegen considered Boudry's action to be unworthy of an academic, but also found it astonishing that the conference organizers had accepted the text: "Anyone who makes the simple effort to understand the first sentences of Boudry/Maundry's [sic] abstract (if that is even possible), will immediately notice that it is incomprehensible nonsense."[15]

Skepticism[edit]

Boudry moderating a debate between Pigliucci, Dennett and Krauss (Het Denkgelag 2013).

Maarten Boudry is mainly known for his skepticism and critical attitude toward pseudoscience. As a philosopher of science, one of his main interests is the study of pseudoscience in all its forms and expressions. He studies the fallibility of human reasoning that might underlie pseudoscience and irrationality. Boudry characterizes pseudoscience as "an imitation of real science". In his MA thesis, entitled De naakte Keizers van de Psychoanalyse (The Naked Emperors of Psychoanalysis), he explains why he classifies psychoanalysis as a pseudoscience and which immunizing strategies this school of thought has developed over the years to withstand criticism. Together with philosopher Johan Braeckman he wrote the book De ongelovige Thomas heeft een punt (Doubting Thomas has a point), in which they offer arguments against parascience and pseudoscience, blind faith, wishful thinking, astrology, irrationality, psychokinesis, and dowsing, as they consider these ideas to be grounded in logical fallacies. The title refers to the attitude of Thomas the Apostle, who was initially skeptical when he was told that Jesus had been resurrected. In an interview, Boudry said:

[...] [it] is also interesting for philosophers to take a closer look at pseudoscience, because it also teaches us something about the difference between good science and pseudoscience, and thus indirectly about how science works as well.[7]

In publications and debates, Boudry also criticizes religion, intelligent design, and theology. In 2014, during the Dutch Nationale Religiedebat (National Religion Debate), philosophers Maarten Boudry and Herman Philipse (both of whom are atheists) debated Stefan Paas and Rik Peels on the question of whether belief in a god is reasonable and what the impact of nonbelief on morality is.[17] Boudry also debated Christian philosopher Emanuel Rutten during the Denkcafé debate "Does God Exist?" in December 2012, where he said the following:

Of course we can't exclude the existence of God. But you can say the same about the Loch Ness Monster. We could also introduce another all-knowing being: the Unicorn, an intelligent ungulate. That animal knows everything, also that God doesn't exist. Or maybe God is the victim of an evil demon. He may know that he himself exists, but there could be a demon who tricked him into thinking he's the creator of heaven and earth.[18]

Awards[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

Cover of Philosophy of Pseudoscience.

Maarten Boudry has published a considerable number of articles in both peer-reviewed philosophical journals and in public print media (newspapers and magazines). Some of his conference presentations are publicly available as well.[24]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "dr. Maarten Boudry". Website UGent. Ghent University. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "People: Maarten Boudry". Ghent University Academic Bibliography. Universiteit Gent. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Frederic Vansteenkiste (27 March 2009). ""Iedereen heeft zijn logica"; Maarten Boudry (24) stelt zich als filosoof kritisch op tegenover het paranormale". Krant van West-Vlaanderen (in Dutch). 
  4. ^ "Member Publications". Website SSSR. Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Maarten Boudry. "Curriculum Vitae". Website Maarten Boudry. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Boudry, Maarten". Epistemic Innocence. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Jozef Van Giel (9 November 2014). "Maarten Boudry over Freud en De Naakte Keizers van de Psychoanalyse". Kritisch Denken. Russells Theepot. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "The Future of Creation Order" (PDF). Program book Christian Philosophy Conference 2011. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Robin de Wever (2 October 2012). "VU in verlegenheid: theologisch betoog blijkt gebazel". Trouw (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Maarten Meester (4 October 2012). "VU voor schut met namaakartikel". Filosofie.nl (in Dutch). Filosofie Magazine. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Coyne, Jerry. "A Sokal-style hoax by an anti-religious philosopher « Why Evolution Is True". Why Evolution Is True. Retrieved September 15, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Filosofen herkenden onzin niet". Trouw. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "VU door grap Belgische filosoof in verlegenheid". Reformatorisch Dagblad (in Dutch). 2 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Een schelmenstreek in theologisch jargon". Trouw. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Aaldert van Soest (2 October 2012). "Christelijke filosofen aanvaarden onzintekst". Nederlands Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Christelijke filosofen in de maling genomen". Nederlands Dagblad (in Dutch). 2 October 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  17. ^ KlaasJan Baas (30 January 2014). "Nationaal Religiedebat: Dansen om de hete brij" (in Dutch). Evangelische Omroep. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  18. ^ "Video Denkcafé: Bestaat God?". Congres- & debatcentrum Arminius. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "SKEPP looft thesisprijs uit van € 1.000". Website SKEPP (in Dutch). SKEPP. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  20. ^ Stijn Debrouwere (30 April 2007). "SKEPPticus Maarten Boudry over psychoanalyse". Schamper (452). Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "Maarten Boudry en Johan Braeckman schreven Liberales-boek 2011". Website Liberales (in Dutch). Liberales. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  22. ^ "Shortlist Socrates Wisselbeker 2012 bekend". Filosofie.nl (in Dutch). Filosofie Magazine. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "Onderscheiding Wetenschapscommunicatie voor Francis wyffels en 7 andere UGent-ers". Website UGent (in Dutch). Universiteit Gent. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  24. ^ "Maarten Boudry". ugent.be. 
  25. ^ "Irreducible Incoherence and Intelligent Design – a look into the conceptual toolbox of a pseudoscience - Maarten Boudry". google.com. 
  26. ^ "How not to attack Intelligent Design Creationism: Philosophical misconceptions about Methodological Naturalism - Maarten Boudry". google.com. 
  27. ^ "In Mysterious Ways: On petitionary prayer and subtle forms of supernatural causation - Maarten Boudry". google.com. 
  28. ^ "Immunizing Strategies & Epistemic Defense Mechanisms - Maarten Boudry". google.com. 
  29. ^ "Where the design argument goes wrong: Auxiliary assumptions and unification - Maarten Boudry". google.com. 
  30. ^ "How Convenient! The Epistemic Rationale of Self-validating Belief Systems - Maarten Boudry". google.com. 

External links[edit]