Philosophy as an exact science

Arianne Betti 

Philosophy and computer science make a perfect combination. It's good that they do, because philosopher of language Arianna Betti would like nothing better than to explore all the philosophical texts from the last two millennia in terms of the context and history of their underlying ideas.

Working in cafés and on the move – “Electric sockets in aircraft are unbelievably useful!” – Arianna Betti finds connections between her philosophy and other areas of knowledge, including languages, history, library sciences and no less important, computer science. She in no way reflects the stereotypical image of the academic in the ivory tower that philosophy might suggest. “The fact that I connect my research with absolutely everything is typical of me. I think it's great. Philosophy is not a subject that should isolate”, she says. The prestigious Starting Grant from the European Research Council that she was awarded four years ago has really helped in her research. “You can use this kind of funding to set up your own research line. The freedom that offers helps to make you creative.”

Nowadays, funding bodies place a lot of emphasis on the relevance of scholarship to society. Betti succeeds in attracting major grants. Does this mean that her research is of major importance to society? “Yes”, says Betti. “It may not be possible to apply philosophy directly, but you need people who can think effectively at a higher level of abstraction. That abstraction helps society to evolve. Rich societies can afford to fund this kind of research.”

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University Research Chair
Arianna Betti is one of the five excellent scientists to be appointed as full professor on University Research Chair as of January 1, 2013. The first five URC professors are Arianna Betti, Davide Iannuzzi, Albert Menkveld, Erwin Peterman and Wim van Westrenen. Rector Magnificus Lex Bouter announced their names on October 19 during the Dies Natalis of VU University: "We have high expectations of these scientists."



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