Limited practical use
Hartmann has gained several insights from philosophy in recent years. According to him, many social sciences feel they are in crisis. Hartmann: "Indeed, so much is produced now that you can ask yourself whether our knowledge is really advancing or whether we are constantly reinventing the wheel. We also face many problems in the quality of publications, because it turns out that a lot of empirical research is not reproducible." All in all, Hartmann thinks there is a huge amount of empirical, social science research being produced, but with very limited practical use. "As a result, trust in science is also increasingly low. As in, 'it's also just an opinion'. I tried to find a cause for this through a philosophical analysis of the social sciences."
The role of beliefs and desires in human actions
Social sciences play a major social role in explaining and influencing human behaviour. But the big question is why it is difficult to make use of social science knowledge in our behaviour. Hartmann is critical on this point. According to him, the role that beliefs and desires play is largely ignored. He analyses the gap between social science theory and everyday practice by comparing different explanations of behaviour. Hartmann: "In our everyday explanations of our behaviour, we like to refer to thoughts, wishes, goals and desires, which make our behaviour human and personal. I argue in my thesis that these play a secondary role in the social sciences. To close the gap, we need to think radically differently about human behaviour and our explanation of it."
Interest in explaining behaviour
His PhD research in Philosophy has brought Hartmann a lot. "I think we need to realise that as human beings we are deeply interested in explaining behaviour to each other. Which means we should also pay attention to this in all our multidisciplinarity. A focus on this leads to better communication between different disciplines."
Interested in attending his graduation? Be welcome on Tuesday 21 November at 16.30 in the Aula of Radboud University, Comeniuslaan 2 in Nijmegen. The defence can also be followed via a livestream: www.ru.nl/aula/livestream.
About Frank Hartmann
Frank Hartmann (Rotterdam, 1966) has been Professor of Accounting at Radboud University since 2020. He obtained his PhD in Accounting from Maastricht University in 1997. From 1998, he was a professor at the University of Amsterdam and later Erasmus University. Frank is the (co)author of several scientific articles and textbooks in the field of accounting and control, in which he focuses on steering and influencing human behaviour. Frank sees the academic field of accounting not so much as the 'science of accounting', but as the science of behavioural accounting. In his second dissertation, which he will defend at Radboud University on 21 November, he provides a philosophical analysis of the meaning of behavioural accounting and of the limitations of the social sciences in explaining human behaviour. Frank is married (25 years) and has three children.