Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Realism and constructivism: exploring the philosophical depths of transport modelling

Supervisor:Dr Paul Timms

Whilst transport modelling has, for over 50 years, formed one of the key aspects of transport studies, remarkably little research has been carried out of the philosophical underpinnings of such modelling. Whilst it would appear that, de facto, transport modelling has abandoned its early positivist orientation, it is not at all clear what might have replaced it.

The student will have a high degree of freedom to devise a research project within the overall field of philosophy of transport modelling. However, the research should take into account the following points:

  1. Transport modelling involves aspects of social science as well as natural/engineering science.
  2. Models are used very widely and have (through planning processes) an impact in the real world. Better understanding of the philosophy underpinning transport models will likewise have an impact on the real world.
  3. There is arguably a current 'closing of the gap' between 'analytic' philosophy of science and 'continental' philosophy of science. It would be desirable if the research could use insights from both traditions.

It is likely that the student has read about philosophy of science (though not necessarily as part of a formal course).

Search site