NWO Vidi Grant for formal ethicist dr. Frederik van de Putte

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded an NWO Vidi grant to Frederik Van De Putte. The NWO Vidi grant of up to 800.000 euros is awarded to excellent researchers who, after obtaining their doctorate, have conducted research successfully for a number of years. This grant enables Frederik van de Putte to conduct his research for the coming five years.

According to Erasmus School of Philosophy Dean Hub Zwart: “given the fact that the NWO Vidi selection procedures are highly competitive, this is a great performance. Moreover, it shows that te schools’ research themes are convincing and robust. It is an important encouragement for our school.” 

Short summary of Frederik van de Putte’s NWO Vidi research project

From a country’s decision to leave the EU, to jury convictions in criminal trials, to friends figuring out where to have dinner: collective decisions are everywhere. But when are they truly democratic? ENCODE: Explicating Norms for Collective Deliberation aims to provide new insights on collective decision-making.

According to a prominent view, democracy requires more than the aggregation of opinions. Citizens should engage in a discussion, justify and mutually adjust their positions, and eventually arrive at a consensus or meta-agreement on the decision problem at hand, before they vote. Such collective deliberation should moreover satisfy principles such as rationality, equality, and truthfulness, in order to count as democratic. This deliberative ideal is widely endorsed and even cited as a solution to the current crisis of Western democracies. However, there is no unified, mathematical model of deliberation that allows us to clarify exactly what deliberative democrats want and to check the joint compatibility of the various principles they endorse. This stands in contrast with our understanding of opinion aggregation, which has made great progress due to the presence of mathematical models in social choice theory.

The ENCODE project will fill this gap, by developing a formal framework of collective deliberation in which its components and dynamics are characterized with mathematical precision. Although its methods are rooted in analytic philosophy, ENCODE has great relevance for the general theory and practice of collective decision-making.

Earlier recognition

The NWO Vidi grant follows earlier recognition for Frederik van de Putte’s research. In 2018 he was awarded a H2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship and he has obtained multiple FWO Flanders research grants throughout the years. Frederik van de Putte is also an Associate Editor for the philosophical journal Erkenntnis as of 2018.