• © Universität Bielefeld

Prof. Dr. Martin Carrier

Professor für Wissenschaftsphilosophie

© Universität Bielefeld

Abteilung Philosophie
Universität Bielefeld
Postfach 100131
33501 Bielefeld

Sekretariat: Eike Inga Schilling
Tel: +49 (0) 521 106-6894
Fax: +49-521-106-156894
Mail: eike_inga.schilling@uni-bielefeld.de

Prof. Dr. Martin Carrier


+49 521 106-4596
Gebäude X A4-246


  • 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

Awards 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


Institutional Positions

  • Since 2017      Member of the permanent advisory council of the Center for Science Studies of the German National Academy Leopoldina
  • Since 2016      Head of Division for Social Sciences and Humanities of the European Academy of  Sciences
  • 2013 – 2019    Head of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science (I2SoS) 
  • 2008 – 2018    Member of the Selection Committee for Prizes and Awards of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, Vice-President 2012 – 2014, President 2014 – 2018.
  • Since 2008      Member of the University Council of Bielefeld University
  • 2002 – 2009    Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF)


  • 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 Berlin
  • 2012, 2014    Five months research stay at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Haifa
  • 2009              Research stay in the Fall semester at the Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
  • 2006 – 2007  Co-director of a one-year ZiF Research Group on Science in the Context of Application
  • 2006 – 2007  One-year DFG Research Fellowship for a Project on Science in the Context of Application
  • 1988              One-semester research grant at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

Active Research Grants

  • DFG research project “Research in the Context of Practice: Strategies for Making Application-Oriented Science Epistemically Sound and Practically Beneficial,” zwei Promotionsstellen, April 2019 – March 2022.
  • 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.
  • Breaking Confines: Interdisciplinary Model-Building for a Complex World, M. Carrier, A. Gölzhäuser (ZiF Kooperationsgruppe, 2019-2021).
  • Doctoral Training School „Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research“(GRK 2073/1) (together with Torsten Wilholt), 2015 – 2024.

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:
    • cognition, neuronal states, behavior
    • incommensurability
    • 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.


Invited Lecture Series

  • Integrity and Responsibility in Science: Navigating through Conflicting Social and Epistemic Demands, Annual Meeting of the European Academy of Sciences, with Alain Tressaud and Rodrigo Martins, ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 18.-20.10.2018.
  • Anreiz, Kosten und Erkenntnisqualität: Wissenschaftsökonomie im Spannungsfeld von Ressourcenknappheit und epistemischer Ambition, mit Rolf König, ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 16.-18.11.2017.
  • Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI): Coming to Grips with a Contentious Concept, with Rolf König and Peter Weingart, ZiF, Univ. Bielefeld, 30.3.-1.4.2017
  • Vienna International Summer University 2012: Applied Science: Historical, Epistemological, and Institutional Characteristics, Universität Wien, 2.7. – 13.7.2012 (with Rose-Mary Sargent & Peter Weingart).
  • Leibniz-Lectures, University of Hannover, Germany (in German): "Science under the Pressure of Practice: Epistemic Commitment, Credibility, Social Benefit," July 15-17, 2009 (see also below).
  • Workshop on my work: "Incommensurability between Scientific Theories," Journée de recherche on my work, Université de Nancy, France, March 11, 2003
  • Lecture Series, Università degli studi di Firenze, Italy, "Theory-ladenness and Empirical Test," March 29 -31, 2000.



Edited Books


Ph.D. Theses Supervised

  • Andreas Hüttemann, Idealisierungen und das Ziel der Physik (1996)
  • James L. Cook, Recursive Fitness (1997)
  • Jutta Rockmann, Wissenschaftlicher Realismus und Unterbestimmtheit (1999)
  • Jesse Kraai, Rheticus? Heliocentric Providence. A study concerning the astrology/astronomy of the sixteenth century (2001)
  • Patrick Finzer, Verstehen komplexer Systeme. Reduktionen in Biologie und Biomedizin (2002)  
  • Matthias Adam, Theoriebeladenheit und Objektivität. Zur Rolle von Beobachtungen in den Naturwissenschaften (2002
  • Torsten Wilholt, Zahl und Wirklichkeit: Eine philosophische Untersuchung über die Anwendbarkeit der Mathematik (2002)
  • Alexander Mäder, Falsche Überzeugungen verstehen: Begriffliche und methodische Überlegungen zur Erforschung der alltagspsychologischen Praxis (2003)
  • Michael Stöltzner, Vienna Indeterminism. Causality, Realism and the Two Strands of Boltzmann's Legacy (1896-1936) (2003)
  • Christian Schütte, Gesetze am Himmel. Die Astronomie der Frühen Neuzeit als Wegbereiterin moderner Naturwissenschaft (2006)
  • Cornelis Menke, Zum methodologischen Wert von Vorhersagen neuartiger Phänomene (2007)
  • Soazig Le Bihan, Understanding Quantum Phenomena (2008) (Cotutelle avec U. Nancy 2)
  • Sandro Gaycken, Technisches Wissen – Philosophische Untersuchungen (2008)
  • Tobias Knobloch, Quasi-Experimente. Zum Erkenntniswert von Gedankenexperimenten und Computersimulationen (2009)
  • Anna Leuschner, Die Glaubwürdigkeit der Wissenschaft (2011)
  • Anke Büter, Pluralismus statt Wertfreiheit: Soziale Erkenntnistheorie und das Beispiel der Frauengesundheitsforschung (2012)
  • Adele Gerdes, Die Selbstorganisation dynamischer Systeme. Whiteheads Beitrag zur Philosophie des Geistes (2013)
  • Fabian Lausen, Tragweite und Grenzen eines heuristischen Reduktionismus (2013)
  • David Willmes, Zur Legitimität ethischer und sozialer Werte in der Wissenschaft (2013)
  • Daniel Stephen Brooks, The Concept of Levels of Organization in Biology (2014)
  • Stephan Kopsieker, Modularität und Plastizität in biologischen Systemen. Eine mechanistische Perspektive (2016)


  • Andreas Hüttemann
  • Torsten Wilholt
  • Johannes Lenhard
  • Cornelis Menke