Martin Carrier
Abteilung Philosophie
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Martin Carrier

Bild - Martin Carrier
Foto: Sandra Sánchez (Fotomobiel)


Universität Bielefeld
Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft,
Philosophie und Theologie
Abteilung Philosophie
Postfach 100131
33501 Bielefeld
Raum T8-212
05206-920971 (privat)
0521-106-64 41

Research Fields

I have worked on five fields in the philosophy of science.

  1. History of Early Modern Physical Theory
  2. Theory Change: Problems of Methodological Comparison and Confirmation Theory
  3. Conceptual Relations among Theoretical Systems:
    1. cognition, neuronal states, behavior
    2. incommensurability
    3. theory-laden tests
  4. Space-Time Philosophy
  5. Methodological Problems of Applied Research

Regarding the history of early modern physical theory, I have worked on important historical figures from Copernicus to Newton (including the history of Newtonian chemistry in the 18th century). This work was not intended to be purely historical but rather to include considerations of methodological standards that guide the development of scientific theory. Second, the same orientation, if with a different emphasis, characterizes my studies on theory change. My analyses of problems of confirmation and theory comparison are always anxious to take case-studies from the history of science into consideration. This research field includes studies on scientific realism that examine which aspects of a theory are confirmed confirmed by empirical evidence. In this connection, I advance the position of a ?realism of kinds,? that is a variant of structural realism. Third, one of topical foci of my work concerns the exploration of conceptual relations among theories. This work has ramified into three different areas, namely, the analysis of psychological and neuroscientific accounts, the suggestion of a consistent notion of semantic incommensurability, and the examination of options for testing theories by theory-laden evidence. The latter argument is explored in my book on the completeness of scientific theories which contains analyses of ways of testing space-time theory in a non-circular manner by using evidence provided by the very same theory to be tested. Fourth, this work on theory-laden tests was extended to questions of space-time philosophy. I hope to have achieved, in particular, a clearer notion of the conventionality of physical geometry. My present chief research field is the the methodology of applied research and the methodological changes imposed on science by the pressure of practice. Philosophy of science often focuses on the characteristics of fundamental research without taking into account that a large part of scientific research today is commissioned research, industrial research, or applied research, performed so as to accomplish short-term practical goals. In such instances, the aims of research do not grow out of the smooth development of a discipline but are shaped by non-scientific problems, and the relevant time-frames are narrow. Kinds of bias may emerge under such conditions that are lacking in basic research but merit closer philosophical scrutiny.

Curriculum Vitae

Born in 1955 Lüdenscheid
1975 to 1981 Study of physics, philosophy, and education at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Since 1984 married to Gabriele Carrier; two sons.
1984 Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Münster. Thesis on Lakatos? Methodology and the History of Chemistry in the 18th Century.
1984 to 1989 Lecturer in philosophy at the University of Konstanz
December 1989 Habilitation in philosophy at the University of Konstanz. Thesis on the Relation between Theory and Evidence in Space-Time Theories.
1989 to 1998 Akademischer Rat (tenured position) at the University of Konstanz
1994 to 1998 Full professor for philosophy (philosophy of science) at the University of Heidelberg.
Beginning April 1998 Full professor for philosophy (philosophy of science) at Bielefeld University.
March 2000 Appointment to the German Academy of Scientists Leopoldina
2002 to 2009 Member of the Board of Directors of the Bielefeld Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF)
2003 Appointment to the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz.
2008 Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize for 2008 bestowed by the DFG
Since 2008 Member of the University Council of Bielefeld University
Since 2010 Member of the "Academia Europaea/The Academy of Europe"
Since 2012 Member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science
Since 2014 Member of the "Académie européenne des sciences/European Academy of Sciences" (Brüssel)
March 2015 Blaise-Pascal Medal for Social Sciences and Humanitites for 2015, awarded by the European Academy of Sciences
July 2016 John-G.-Diefenbaker Award for 2016 of the Canada Council for the Arts


Third-Party Funding

  1. DFG-Projekt "Wissenschaftliche Politikberatung: Epistemisch-institutionelle Charakteristika von Expertenkommissionen am Beispiel der deutschen Strahlenschutzkommission" (mit Wolfgang Krohn) Sachbeihilfe: 1 x TVL 13, 1.10.10 - 30.9.12.
  2. DFG-Projekt "Computersimulation: methodologische Charakteristika und Gründe ihrer Validität" Sachbeihilfe: 1 x TVL 13, 1.8.09-31.7.11.
  3. Deutsch-französische Frühjahrsschule zu Wissenschaft und Werten, École de printemps franco-allemande sur "science et valeurs" (mit Claude Debru), Deutsch-französische Hochschule, Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 20.-24. April 2009.
  4. Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Preis der DFG.
  5. Transcoop Project on "Science and Values" with James Robert Brown (U. of Toronto) and Kathleen Okruhlik (U. of Western Ontario), 2008-2010.
  6. Förderung eines deutsch-französischen Studiengangs "Wissenschaftsforschung/Études sur la science" durch die Deutsch-französische Hochschule (mit Claude Debru, ENS Paris). Support of a French-German Course Program on Science Studies by the French-German University (together with Claude Debu, ENS Paris). 1.10.07 - 30.9.10
  7. ZiF-Research Group "Science in the Context of Application" (with Alfred Nordmann, TU Darmstadt), 1.10.06 - 30.9.07.
  8. DFG-Projekt "Wirtschaftswissenschaften unter den Bedingungen der Anwendungsdominanz"/ "Economics as application dominated research". Sachbeihilfe: 2 x ½ BAT IIa, 1.10.06 - 30.9.08.
  9. DFG-Projekt "Ethische Dilemmata in der Arzneimittelforschung"/"Ethical dilemmas in medical drug research". Sachbeihilfe: 1 x BAT IIa, 1.4.06 - 31.3.09
  10. DFG-Projekt "Wissenschaft unter Anwendungsdruck: Angewandte Forschung unter dem Druck wirtschaftlicher Interessen, politischer Vorgaben und ethischer Verpflichtungen" Professurvertretung im Rahmen der "Förderinitiative Geisteswissenschaften" der DFG. 1.4.06 - 31.3.07.
  11. DFG-Projekt "Theorienstrukturen und Beurteilungsmaßstäbe unter Bedingungen der Anwendungsdominanz am Beispiel der Industrieforschung". Sachbeihilfe: 2 x BAT IIa, 1.8.02 - 31.7.05.
  12. Graduiertenkolleg "Auf dem Weg in die Wissensgesellschaft: Wissenschaft in Anwendungs- und Beratungskontexten" (mit Peter Weingart u.a.), 1.4.02 - 31.3.11.
  13. DFG-Projekt "Geschichte des Naturgesetzbegriffs" (mit Michael Hampe, Univ. Bamberg) Sachbeihilfe: 2 x ½ BAT IIa, 1.11.01 - 31.10.04.
  14. Forschergruppe "Auf dem Weg in die Wissensgesellschaft" (mit Peter Weingart u.a.) VW-Stiftung (Schlüsselthemen der Geisteswissenschaften), 1.7.01 - 30.6.04.
  15. Graduiertenkolleg "Genese, Struktur und Folgen von Wissenschaft und Technik" (mit Peter Weingart u.a.), 1.4.98 - 31.3.02.
  16. DFG-Projekt "Unterbestimmtheit wissenschaftlicher Theorien durch die Erfahrung" Sachbeihilfe: ½ BAT IIa, 1.12.96 - 30.11.98.


Services to the Community


Organization of Conferences

  1. ESF-ZiF-Bielefeld Conference on the Politicization of Science (with Peter Weingart), ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 25.-29.5. 2009.
  2. Deutsch-französische Frühjahrsschule zu Wissenschaft und Werten, École de printemps franco-allemande sur "science et valeurs" (mit Claude Debru), ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 20.-24.4.2009.
  3. "Science and Values", Transcoop Workshop Bielefeld University, 8.7.-9.7.2008
  4. "Science in the Context of Application," (with Alfred Nordmann and Johannes Lenhard) (Final Conference of the ZiF research group "Science in the Context of Application") ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 27.-29.9.2007.
  5. "Methodological Change, Conceptual Transformation, Cultural Reorientation," (with Alfred Nordmann and Johannes Lenhard) (Opening Conference of the ZiF research group "Science in the Context of Application"). ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 26.-28.10.2006.
  6. "Die Intellektuellen auf dem Weg in die Wissensgesellschaft: Kulturelle Typisierungen und disziplinäre Standardisierungen" (mit Bettina Heintz und Johannes Roggenhofer) ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 19.-21.1.2006.
  7. "First Notre-Dame Bielefeld Interdisciplinary Conference on Science and Values," (with Don Howard and Peter Weingart) ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 9.-12.7.2003.
  8. Member of the organization committee of GAP.4 "Argument und Analyse", Bielefeld, 26.-29.9.2000, und GAP.5 "Philosophie und/als Wissenschaft", Bielefeld, 23.-26.9.2003.
  9. "World and Knowledge," (with Johannes Roggenhofer, Günter Küppers and Philippe Blanchard), ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 18.-20.6.2001
  10. "Science at the End of the Century: The Limits of Science," (with Gerald Massey) University of Pittsburgh, 3.-7.10.1997.
  11. "Quantenphilosophie: Internationales Kolloquium zu den philosophischen Problemen der Quantentheorie", Univ. Heidelberg, 9.11.1996.
  12. "Philosophy and the Sciences of the Mind" (with Peter Machamer) University of Konstanz, 17.-20.5.1995.


Organization of Lecture Series

  1. Bielefeld Pentecoste Lectures 2008: Elliott Sober, "Evolution Without Metaphysics?," "Probabilistic Epistemology," Univ. Bielefeld, 14.-16.5.2008
  2. Bielefeld Pentecoste Lectures 2005: Nancy Cartwright, "Causality. Metaphysics and Methods," Univ. Bielefeld, 18.-20.5.2005.
  3. Bielefeld Pentecoste Lecture 2001: Philip Kitcher: "The Evolution of Human Altruism," "Science, Truth, and Democracy," Univ. Bielefeld, 30.5.-1.6.2001.


Workshops on my Research or Lecture Series

  1. Leibniz-Vorlesungen 2009: "Wissenschaft unter Praxisdruck: Erkenntnisanspruch, Glaubwürdigkeit, gesellschaftlicher Nutzen", Leibniz-Universität Hannover, 15.-17.6.2009
  2. "Incommensurability between Scientific Theories," Journée de recherche on "Semantic Incommensurability and Empirical Comparability: The Case of Lorentz and Einstein," Université Nancy 2, 11.3.2003.
  3. "Theory-ladenness and Empirical Test" Lecture Series on "Confirmation of Theories and Theory-Ladenness of Data: on the Reciprocal Dependence Between Theory and Evidence," Università degli studi di Firenze, 29.-31.3.2000.


Ph.D. Theses Supervised


current supervisions


Committee Work

  1. Co-Chair of the Program Committee for "HOPOS 2010" at Budapest, Hungary.
  2. Mitglied des Preisträgerauswahlausschusses der Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung. Member of the Selection Committee for Prizes and Awards of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation. Since 2008.
  3. Mitglied der Akkreditierungskommission für das Studiengangsbündel Philosophie, Soziologie, Geschichte, Sportwissenschaft an der Univ. Konstanz, 15.-17.1.2007.
  4. President of the Evaluation Committee for the Department of the Social Sciences and Humanities (D-GESS) at the ETH Zurich, 20.-24.11.2006.
  5. Member of the Program Committee of the Vienna International Summer University (borne by the University of Vienna and the Institute Vienna Circle), 2000 - 2008
  6. Treasurer of the Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie, 2000 - 2003.
  7. Associate Editor of International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1996-2001.
  8. Associate Editor of Enzyklopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie, Stuttgart: Metzler. Since 1994.


Extended Research Stays

September to December 1988
Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
August to December 2009
Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
October 2010 to January 2011
Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science Berlin