Martin Carrier

Abteilung Philosophie
Universität Bielefeld > Fakultät > Philosophie > Personen > Martin Carrier

Martin Carrier




Bild - Martin Carrier








Universität Bielefeld
Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft,
Philosophie und Theologie
Abteilung Philosophie
Postfach 100131
33501 Bielefeld

Office: X A4 246
Phone office: +49-521-106-4596
Phone home: +49-5206-920971
Secretary Eike Inga Schilling: +49-521-106-6894
Fax: +49-521-106-156894



Curriculum Vitae




1955 Born in Lüdenscheid (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany)
1975 to 1981 Studies of physics, philosophy, and education at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
1981 State Examination for a Gymnasium Teaching Position.
1984 Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Münster. Thesis on Lakatos' Methodology and the History of Chemistry in the 18th Century.
Since 1984 Married to Gabriele Carrier, two sons
1984 to 1989 Lecturer in philosophy at the University of Konstanz
1989 Habilitation in philosophy at the University of Konstanz with Jürgen Mittelstraß. Thesis on the Relation between Theory and Evidence in Space-Time Theories.
1989 to 1994 Akademischer Rat (tenured position) at the University of Konstanz.
1994 to 1998 Full professor for philosophy at the University of Heidelberg.
Since 1998 Full professor for philosophy at Bielefeld University.
2002 - 2009 Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF)
Since 2008 Member of the University Council of Bielefeld University
2008 - 2018 Member of the Selection Committee for Prizes and Awards of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, Vice President 2012 - 2014, President 2014 - 2018.
2013 - 2019 Head of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science (I²SoS)
Since 2016 Head of Division for Social Sciences and Humanities of the European Academy of Sciences
Since 2017 Member of the permanent advisory council of the Center for Science Studies of the German National Academy Leopoldina



Grants and Honors




  • Werner-Heisenberg Medal of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation 2018
  • Full Member of the Académie internationale de philosophie des sciences, since 2018
  • John-G.-Diefenbaker Award of the Canada Council for the Arts 2016
  • Blaise-Pascal Medal for Social Sciences and Humanities of the European Academy of Sciences 2015
  • Member of the European Academy of Sciences, since 2014
  • One-year research grant of the “Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald,” 2014/15.
  • Member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science, since 2012 
  • Member of the “Academia Europaea/The Academy of Europe” since 2010
  • Leibniz Prize of theDeutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft(DFG) for 2008
  • One-year research grant of theDFG: “Science under the Pressure of Practice,” co-director of a ZiF resarch group on the same topic, 2006/07
  • Member of the Academy of Sciences and Literature Mainz, since 2003
  • Member of the German Academy of Scientists Leopoldina (National Academy), since 2000












  • Leopoldina - Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften
  • Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz
  • Academia Europaea - The Academy of Europe
  • Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaft
  • European Academy of Sciences
  • Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences











2016-2017                        Diefenbaker Award and One-year Research Fellowship at the University of Toronto
                                         awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
2014 – 2015                     One-year Senior Research Fellowship at the Krupp-Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald
                                         awarded by the Alfried-Krupp Foundation
2011 – 2012                     One-semester fellowship at the Institut d’études avancées Paris, France
2010 – 2011                     One-semester fellowship at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science
2012, 2014                       Five months research stay at the Department of Philosophy at the University of
2009                                 Research stay in the Fall semester at the Department of Philosophy, University of
2006 – 2007                     Co-director of a one-year ZiF Research Group on Science in the Context of
2006 – 2007                     One-year DFG Research Fellowship for a Project on Science in the Context of
1988                                One-semester research grant at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of




Active Research Grants 


  1. DFG research project “Research in the Context of Practice: Strategies for Making Application-OrientedScience Epistemically Sound andPractically Beneficial,” zwei Promotionsstellen, April 2019 – March 2022.
  2. Obstacles to Comparison in the Natural Sciences and Ways to Overcome them: The Example of Molecular Genetics. The project is part of SFB 1204Praktiken des Vergleichens (Practices of Comparison) (together Carsten Reinhardt), eine Mitarbeiterstelle, Jan 2017 – Dec 2020.
  3. Doctoral Training School „Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research“(GRK 2073/1) (together with Torsten Wilholt), 2015 – 2019.
  4. Responsible Research and Innovation (together with Rolf König), Project “Nucleus” in the framework of Horizon 2020. 1 ½ Mitarbeiterstellen, Sept. 2015 – April 2019.
  5. DFG funded project „Climate Engineering Impacts: Between Reliability and Liability” as part of the interdisciplinary CEIBRAL/CELARIT-Consortium, eine Mitarbeiterstelle, June 2013 – July 2019. 





Fields of Research




I have worked on the following 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
  6. Science and Values




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.




Fifth, I address the methodology of utility-driven research and the methodological changes im-posed on science by the pressure of practice. Philosophy of science often focuses on the character-istics 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 accom-plish 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 fun-damental research but merit closer philosophical scrutiny. The question is what the pressure of prac-tice does to scientific research.




Sixth, I explore the science-society interface and focus on the "value-ladenness of science," i.e., the impact of values on the pursuit of research endeavors and the acceptance of knowledge claims. I appeal to epistemic and non-epistemic values as analytical categories and seek to clarify standards of justification and model-building under the pressure of practice. I further address the credibility problem of parts of science in the social arena. Value commitments within the scientific community and its societal ambiance are used for characterizing different heuristic strategies and in spelling out the ambivalent role of pluralism in buttressing claims within the scientific community and without.