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Virtues and Vice in Mathematics


Mathematics is a human activity, and as for all human activities ethical considerations arise. However, so far the ethics of mathematics has remained an under-explored topic both among philosophers and mathematicians. Because mathematics is a collective epistemic endeavour injustices in its social structure, such as biased refereeing practices, impact its epistemic output. These injustices have not yet received sustained critical reflection, even though they are both socially relevant, since they impact the careers and hence lives of mathematicians, and epistemologically relevant, because they shape publicly available mathematical knowledge. VaViM will study the virtues and vices that manifest in such injustices and develop an interventionist philosophy which supports concrete recommendations, such as policy advice.

VaViM expands the theoretical frameworks provided by the virtue-theoretic literature to a study of cases of injustices in mathematical practices. This empirically informed philosophy will provide detailed investigations of how virtues (e.g. charity) and vices (e.g. egotism) manifest in mathematical knowledge-making. This will reveal points of connection between the ethics and epistemology of mathematical practices and open up a discursive field for philosophers and mathematicians to engage with the ethics of mathematics.

As a European centre of excellence in socially relevant philosophy the VU Amsterdam is the perfect host for VaViM. The shared philosophical interest in the sciences ensures the two-way transfer of knowledge between VaViM and its host and provides ample opportunity for collaboration. The VU’s expertise with public philosophy and its research networks provide excellent means for dissemination for VaViM’s findings on the societal challenges mathematicians are facing in Europe in a changing world. Through VaViM I will enrich the European Research Area as a pioneer of a socially and epistemologically relevant philosophy of mathematics.

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 175 572,48