Refereed publications in philosophy (since 2004)

Foto: Arjan Reef

Foto: Rinus Baayens


Department of Philosophy

University of Twente
Postbox 217
7500 AE Enschede

Telephone: +31-53-4892659


Mieke Boon (1961) is a full professor Philosophy of Science in Practice in the Philosophy Department at the University of Twente. This department focusses on the Philosophy of Technology. Boon has a firm background in scientific research in the engineering sciences. In 1987, she received a MSc degree (cum laude) in Chemical Engineering at Twente University of Technology. In 1996, she received a PhD degree (cum laude) in Biotechnology at Technical University Delft. Between 1988 and 1995, she studied philosophy at Leiden University with special interest in history of philosophy, ethics, and philosophy of science. Between 1996 and 2000 she coordinated a multi-disciplinary research project on technologies in bacterial sulphur removal at TUDelft. From 1997 until 2003 she was the chairman of the Animal Use and Care Committee of the Free University of Amsterdam (VU-DEC). At the Philosophy Department of the University of Twente, she teaches “Ethics and Technology”, “Professional Ethics”, “Philosophy of Science”, “Philosophy of Technology”. Between 2003-2008, she has been working with a research grant from the Dutch National Science Foundation (NWO-VIDI beurs in het kader van de Vernieuwingsimpuls van NWO, 2003-2008) on developing a philosophy of engineering sciences. In 2004, she initiated the Female Faculty Network Twente (FFNT), which she chaired until 2006. She is co-chair of the MESA+ research potential SEPA-NST (Societal, Ethical and Philosophical Aspects of NanoScience and Technology) In 2006, she initiated the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP), of which she is a board member.


My research project entitled “Using science in technology: towards a philosophy of the engineering sciences” aims at a philosophy of engineering sciences that provides a more adequate understanding of the role of science in technology. Its purpose is to contribute to the development of a not yet elaborated field within the philosophy of science and technology.

The focus concerns scientific research of complex systems in which interrelated physical, chemical and biological processes occur, such as biochemical and biomedical technologies. The proper technological design of these advanced technologies calls for scientifically informed approaches. This requires a better understanding of how scientific knowledge is produced that is applicable to these systems. In philosophy of technology, this type of knowledge production has been neglected, probably because up till now focus has been on the design of artefacts and not on industrial processes. A central focus of this work is how scientists in the ‘laboratory sciences’ develop scientific theories, laws and models, instruments and experiments, in particular, on how their reasoning in these practices can be better understood. Several of the themes are: empiricism, phenomena, scientific laws, models, scientific instruments, scientific explanations and understanding, and the construction of models.


Einstein, Bohr and Mach were not only great physicists; they also raised philosophical issues relevant to science. These were about proper scientific methodology, the physical interpretation of theories, and how we have access to the world behind the phenomena. Today, these questions are still important, and also new questions need to be asked. How can we assess the quality of scientific research? Can we specify methodological approaches in the engineering sciences? How are scientific research and technological innovation related? Why is it so difficult to work multi- or inter-disciplinary. How are societal values to be embedded in scientific research? My scientific research has taken a new philosophical approach towards these questions (the approach of philosophy of science in practice), with emphasis on how science is actually done. Of particular interest are methods for constructing models, for the use of instruments, and for merging causal-mechanistic and mathematical approaches in scientific research. Philosophy of science workshops that aim to address these questions, have been organized for PhD students and their supervisors within the Twente Research Institute for Nanotechnology, MESA+. In these three-weekly workshops, we discuss philosophical themes relevant for scientific research, and scientific work of these PhD students.

Access to PDF’s of articles through Repository of the University of Twente.



  • Boon, Mieke (2015) How to bring Philosophy Back into Science – Epistemological Constructivism as a viable Picture of Science? Keynote at 15th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, 3-8 August, Helsinki, Finland.
  • Boon, Mieke (2015) Does Similarity between Model and World explain how Models are used? NO. In: Symposium Similarities Reconsidered: How Achievements of Similarity Licence Inferential and Constructive moves in Research Practice. Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP). Fifth Biennial Conference, 24-28 June 2015, Aarhus, Denmark.
  • Boon, Mieke. Teaching Interdisciplinarity – An Epistemology for Interdisciplinary Research and Problem-solving. In: Conference: Teaching Philosophy of Science to Scientists. 23 June 2015, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Boon, M. (2013) Measurements and experiments in the Engineering Sciences. In: The backstages of experiments, Paris.
  • Boon, M. (2013) Scientific Concepts in the Engineering Sciences: Epistemic Tools for Creating and Intervening with Phenomena. In: conference of the NVWF, Philosophy of Science in a Forest II, Leusden.
  • Boon, Mieke (2013) The Measurement of Properties in the Engineering Sciences. In: Dimensions of Measurement, International conference, Bielefeld, 14-16 March 2013, 14-03-2013 - 16-03-2013, Bielefeld.
  • Boon, Mieke (2013) (De-) Idealization as an Epistemic Strategy in Experimental Practices. In: Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP) Fourth Biennial Conference, Toronto, 26-29 June 2013, 26-06-2013 - 29-06-2013, Toronto.
  • Boon, Mieke (2013) Learning Research – History and Philosophy of Science for the Engineering Sciences. In: Teaching Philosophy of Science to Scientists: Challenges and Opportunities, Annual conference GWP, Hannover, 12-03-2013, Hannover.
  • Boon, Mieke (2013) Scientific Knowledge as Epistemic Tool. In: 1st Annual OZSW Conference in Philosophy, 16-11-2013 - 16-11-2013, Rotterdam.
  • February 16-20th, 2012. Conference paper: Learning Research - History and Philosophy of Science for the Engineering Sciences. Contribution to the workshop Making Better Scientists: Philosophy of Science in Practice at the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting, 16-20 February, Vancouver, Canada.
  • June 20-22nd, 2011. Conference paper: ‘Same Conditions—Same Effects’ as a regulative principle in experimental practices. Paper presented at Third biennial conference SPSP 2011, Exeter, UK.
  • July 19-26nd, 2011. Conference paper: Why do we need phenomena? What we can learn from the engineering sciences. Paper presented at 14th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, CLMPS 2011, Nancy, France.
  • August 19-21st, 2011. Conference paper: CaEiT2011: Scientist meets philosophy: We need explanation, but not all explanation is causal. Paper presented at CaEit2011: Causality and Explanation in the Sciences, Gent, Belgium.
  • October 5-8th, 2011. Conference paper: Creating and optimizing technological functions in the engineering sciences: do we need use-plans? In the Symposium: Technical Functions and Artefacts in Philosophy. At EPSA2011, Athens, Greece.



  • Boon M., Meeder T.A., Heijnen J.J., Luyben K.Ch.A.M. 1992. Influence of oxygen adsorption on the dynamic kLa measurement in three-phase slurry reactors. Biotechnol.Bioeng. 40 (9) p. 1097-1106.
  • Hooijmans C.M., Stoop M.L., Boon M. , Luyben K.C.A.M. 1992. Comparison of two experimental methods for the determination of Michaelis Menten kinetics of an immobilized enzyme. Biotechnol.Bioeng. 40 (1) p. 16-24.
  • Boon M., Heijnen J.J. 1993. Mechanisms and rate limiting steps in bioleaching of sphalerite, chalcopyrite and pyrite with Thiobacillus ferrooxidans. Biohydrometallurgical Technologies Vol I, A.E.Torma, J.E.Wey and V.L.Lakshmanan (Eds.). The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, Warrendale , PA (1993). Proc. Int. Biohydrometallurgy Symposium, Jackson, Wyoming, USA , (August 1993), p. 217-236.
  • Boon M., Heijnen J.J., Hansford G.S. 1994. Recent developments in modelling bio-oxidation kinetics, Part I: Measurement methods. Minerals Bioprocessing II, Proceedings of Engineering Foundation Conference, Salt Lake City (July 1994), D.S.Holmes and R.W.Smith (Eds.) The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, 1995. p. 41-63
  • Boon M, Hansford G.S., Heijnen J.J. 1994. Recent developments in modelling bio-oxidation kinetics, Part II: Kinetic modelling of the bio-oxidation of sulphide minerals in terms of the critical sub-processes involved. Minerals Bioprocessing II, Proceedings of Engineering Foundation Conference, Salt Lake City (July 1994), D.S.Holmes and R.W.Smith (Eds.) The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, 1995. p. 63-82
  • Boon M., Hansford G.S., Heijnen J.J. 1995. The role of bacterial ferrous iron oxidation in the bio-oxidation of pyrite. In: Biohydrometallurgical Processing, Vol I, Proceedings of International Biohydrometallurgy Symposium, Vina del Mar , Chile (November 1995). T. Vargas , C.A. Jerez , J.V. Wiertz and H. Toledo (Eds.), University of Chile , Santiago , 153-163.
  • Boon M. 1996. Theoretical and experimental methods in the modelling of bio-oxidation kinetics of sulphide minerals. PhD thesis October 1996 TUDelft, The Netherlands ISBN 90-9009825-9, 453 p.
  • Boon M., Heijnen J.J., Hansford G.S. 1998. The mechanism and kinetics of bioleaching sulphide minerals. Min. Pro. Ext. Met. Rev. 19 p. 107-115.
  • Boon M., Luyben K.Ch.A.M., Heijnen J.J. 1998. The use of on-line off-gas analyses and stoichiometry in the bio-oxidation kinetics of sulphide minerals. Hydrometallurgy 48 (2) p. 1-26.
  • Boon M., Heijnen J.J. 1998. Chemical oxidation kinetics of pyrite in bioleaching processes, Hydrometallurgy 48 (1) p. 27-41.
  • Boon M., Snijder M., Hansford G.S., Heijnen J.J. 1998. The oxidation kinetics of zinc sulphide with Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, Hydrometallurgy 48 (2) p. 171-186.
  • Boon M., J.J. Heijnen 1998. Gas-liquid mass transfer phenomena in bio-oxidation experiments of sulphide minerals: A critical review of literature data. Hydrometallurgy 48 (2) p. 187-204.
  • Scherpenzeel D.A. van, Boon M. , Ras C., Hansford G.S., Heijnen J.J. 1998. Kinetics of ferrous iron oxidation by Leptospirillum Bacteria in continuous cultures, Biotechnol. Prog. 14 p. 425-433.
  • Boon M., Meeder T.A., Thöne C., Ras C., Heijnen J.J. 1999. The ferrous iron oxidation kinetics of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans in continuous cultures. Appl. Microb. Biotechnol. 51 (6) p. 820-826.
  • Boon M., Ras C., Heijnen J.J. 1999. The ferrous iron oxidation kinetics of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans in batch cultures. Appl. Microb. Biotechnol. 51 (6) p. 813-819.
  • Boon M., Brasser H.J., Hansford G.S., Heijnen J.J. 1999. Comparison of the oxidation kinetics of different pyrites in the presence of Thiobacillus ferrooxidans or Leptospirillum ferrooxidans. Hydrometallurgy 53 (1) p. 57-72
  • Boon M. 2000. Bioleaching of sulfide minerals. Chapter 5 in: Environmental technologies to treat sulfur pollution, principles and Engineering P. Lens, Hulshoff Pol L. (eds.), IAWQ Publ., London
  • Boon M. 2001. The mechanism of ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ bacterial oxidation of sulphide minerals. Hydrometallurgy 62 (1) p 67-70.
  • Boon M., Heijnen J.J., 2001. Solid liquid mass transfer limitation of ferrous iron in the chemical oxidation of FeS2 at high redox potentials. Hydrometallurgy 62 (1) p. 57-66.  



  • Chairman of the working group Ethiek en Techniek afdeling Filosofie KIvI: a two-weekly study group on ethics and technology. 1989-1993
  • Chairman of the Animal Use and Care Committee at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU-DEC). 1997-2003
  • Board member of the Redactie commissie (editorial board) Studium Generale TUDelft . 1998- 2000
  • Board member of the national committee alternatives for animal experiments (Programma commissie alternatieven voor dierproeven, ZON/MW), which advices about animal experiments and assesses research proposals concerning alternatives for animal experiments submitted at ZON/MW. December 2001-2006
  • Chairman of Female Faculty Network Twente (FFNT). UTwente. 2005 – 2006
  • Board member of the Ambassadors network “instroom en doorstroom van vrouwen aan de UT, UTwente. Since 2006
  • Board member of Stichting Faculty Club Universiteit Twente. Since 2006.


  • Dutch National Science Foundation. NWO Vernieuwingsimpuls. Vidi project 2003-2008 A philosophy for the engineering sciences”
  • 1998: TUD Essayprijs Ethiek en Techniek.for Chapter 8 of PhD thesis: Philosophical images in applied scientific research.
  • 2009: Science Communication Prize. Faculty of Behavioural Studies, University of Twente.
  • 2011. NWO Aspasia award.


  • Visiting scholar. Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University, United Kingdom. January-March 2006 (two month):
  • Research fellow. The Interdisciplinary project “Science in the Context of Application: Structuring the Research Process” (Professor Martin Carrier, Alfred Nordman, et al), University of Bielefeld, ZIF, Zentrum fur Interdisziplinare Forshung. Bielefeld (Germany). 2006-2007.
  • Visiting scholar. School for Policy Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia, USA. February-March 2009 (two month):
  • Visiting scholar. Humanities Department at California Institute of Technology, California, USA. September-October 2009 (two month).
  • Associate member of PratiScienS group. Laboratoire d'Histoire des Sciences et de Philosophie Archives Henri Poincaré, University of Nancy, France Since January 2008.
  • Guest professor. Department of Science Studies, Aarhus University Denmark. 2010 (4 month).
  • Visiting scholar. Paris Université Diderot. History and Philosophy of Science dept. 2014 (1 month).


  • PSTS (Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society) Technolab (MSc).
  • PSTS: Philosophy of Science in Practice (MSc).
  • Philosophy of Engineering: Science and Ethics (MSc) (161604)
  • Beroepsverantwoordelijkheid van de ingenieur (BA) (161606)
  • Honours Programm University of Twente (BA): Wetenschap in Praktijk (124902)
  • KNAW Excellence Class EWI (MSc): History and philosophy of Science
  • ATLAS University College. University of Twente. Core team member. Research and Interdisciplinarity.

Supervised MSc Theses (PSTS)

  • Pauline Fransen 2002. Koude drukte. Een analyse van het klimaatdebat aan de hand van The Skeptical Environmentalist van Bjørn Lomborg. WWTS, Faculteit Gedragswetenschappen, Universiteit Twente.
  • Manon Kok, June 2007. Causale verklaringen in Kwantummechanische Experimenten. WWTS, Faculteit Gedragswetenschappen, Universiteit Twente.
  • Edgar Schwandt, December 2007. Strategy of Experimentation in Application-driven Research. WWTS, Faculteit Gedragswetenschappen, Universiteit Twente.
  • Moes Wagenaar, Augustus 2008. Simulatie in de Filosofie. WWTS, Faculteit Gedragswetenschappen, Universiteit Twente.
  • Lizanne van Ommeren, Mei 2011. Phenomena in Engineering Science. PSTS, Faculteit Gedragswetenschappen, Universiteit Twente.
  • Sophie van Baalen, August 2014. The Epistemology of Clinical Decision-Making. PSTS, Faculteit BMS, Universiteit Twente.