Philosophy of Science

Abteilung Philosophie
Universität Bielefeld > Fakultät > Philosophie > Forschung > Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of Science

Philosophy of science is one of the department's main areas of research and teaching. At present, seven faculty members and eleven PhD students work in this field. Philosophy of science at Bielefeld University has two core areas. On the one hand, we share an interest in questions concerning the relations between science and society, science and values, and science in the context of application. On the other hand, we engage in the practices of the life sciences (e.g., biology, neuroscience, medicine, and psychology) and address various methodological, conceptual and metaphysical questions. In both core areas our research is characterized by a practice-oriented, interdisciplinary approach.

At Bielefeld University, philosophy of science stands in a tradition of a long-established focus in science studies; it is part of the Institute for interdisciplinary Studies of Science (I²SoS), which includes history of science, economics of science, and social studies of science. The I2SoS hosts several research projects, amongst them the DFG-funded Doctoral School "Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research" (together with the University of Hannover; GRK 2073), a DFG-funded research project on research in the context of application, a DFG-funded research project on methodological questions of climate research, and an EU-funded project on responsible research and innovation. Philosophy of science is also part of two DFG-funded CRCs, one on "A Novel synthesis of Individualization across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution" (SFB-TRR 212), the other one on "Praktiken des Vergleichens" (SFB 1288).

Philosophy of science can be studied as part of the BA and MA philosophy program offered by the department, as part of a philosophy of science minor in others programs, and within the MA program History, Economics, and Philosophy of Science (HEPS) offered together with the Departments of History and Economics. HEPS includes an international track taught in English.


Staff and key research areas


Professor Dr. Martin Carrier addresses the relationship between science and society. This includes methodological changes in response to the pressure of practice that science needs to face. What distinguishes fundamental research from application-oriented research in methodological respect? What makes research socially responsible or practically fruitful? He attempts to capture the relevant features in terms of the interrelations of different kinds of values (epistemic, economic, social etc.).

Dr. Philipp Haueis is an assistant professor working at the intersection of philosophy of neuroscience, general philosophy of science and philosophy of language. He is particularly interested in the structure of concepts in ongoing research practice, exploratory experiments, central concepts found across the life sciences (e.g. "function" and "hierarchy"), and the relation between neuroscience and society.

Dr. Fabian Hundertmark is a postdoctoral researcher working in philosophy of mind and philosophy of biology. His primary interest is the naturalization of various phenomena such as representational contents and biological functions.

Dr. Saana Jukola is a postdoctoral researchers working in philosophy of medicine and philosophy of health sciences. Her current projects deals with the epistemic and non-epistemic foundations of nutrition science and nutrition advice. She is particularly interested in how ideals concerning good evidence influence health policy and discussions on what constitutes healthy eating.

Professor Dr. Marie I. Kaiser works in the philosophy of biology, the general philosophy of science, and the metaphysics of science. In particular, her research focuses on the concept of reductive explanation in biology, mechanisms, part-whole relations, causal modeling, complex systems, biological individuality, the concept of an ecological niche, biological dispositions, and the methodology of philosophy of science.

Dr. Rebecca Mertens is a postdoctoral researcher in history and philosophy of science. She focuses on the role of analogies, models, and forms of comparison in the history of molecular genetics and is a member of the collaborative research program "Practices of Comparison".

Dr. Alexander Steinberg works as an assistant professor on topics at the intersection of the philosophy of logic and language, metaphysics, and the philosophy of science. He is especially interested in the theory of grounding and cognate notions and its applications to specific problems in theoretical philosophy. Within this framework he currently focusses on questions about the nature, semantics, and epistemology of theoretical entities of philosophy, such as properties, propositions, and possible worlds.


PhD students

Minea Gartzlaff works on topics in general philosophy of science and science and society. The topic of her thesis is science in the context of application, using case studies to identify research strategies that are both practically beneficial and epistemically sound.

Anna E. Höhl works in general philosophy of science. In her thesis, she is concerned with the notion of scientific understanding and its relation to other concepts like knowledge, explanation or models, by also taking epistemology and scientific practice into account.

Milla Lifke works in philosophy of physics. Her thesis focuses on philosophical aspects of contemporary theories in high energy physics, in particular on the methodology of string theory.

Ping Lin works in history and philosophy of science. His thesis is concerned with the issue of incommensurability and theory dynamics, combining historical case studies, Kuhnian, pre- and post-Kuhnian approaches to philosophy of science, and scientific practice.

Dijana Magdinski works in general philosophy of science. The focus of her research are epistemological and ethical issues arising from the debates about the functional role of the priority rule in producing scientific novelty and its apparent detrimental impact on scientific integrity and progress.

Basel Myhub is currently working on identifying successful (scientific) research heuristics within a DFG funded project on the heuristics of applied research. His broader research interests include history and philosophy of medicine, scientific pluralism, and philosophy of chemistry.

Anja Pichl works in philosophy of biology and and practical philosophy. Her PhD focuses on limits of biological knowledge in the case of stem cell research, combining philosophy of science debates on limits of reductionism with a Kantian perspective and with an exploration of the role clinical goals play in shaping and limiting stem cell research.

Rui F. de Souza Só Maia works in philosophy of economics. He tries to understand the interplay between formal methods and informal narratives in model-based reasoning.

Rose Trappes works in philosophy of biology. The focus of her thesis is biological individuality, combining perspectives from analytic philosophy, continental philosophy and scientific practice.

H. Roeland Visser works in philosophy of economics. He investigates the use of economic forecasts in policy decisions, linking the history of economic thought with current debates in philosophy of science.

Li-An Yu works on values and science. In his thesis, he articulates and elaborates an axiological framework for understanding and characterizing policy-driven scientific research and science-based policymaking in light of history of science and environmental history.


Visiting Scholars

Prof. Milos Arsenijevic (University of Belgrade), Oct. -Dec. 2019

Prof. Justin Biddle (Georgia Institute of Technology), May -July 2015

Prof. Zaiqing Fang (Chinese Academy of Sciences), June -July 2016, Oct. -Dec. 2018

Dr. Milos Vuletic (University of Belgrade), Oct. -Dec. 2019


Science studies at Bielefeld University

Philosophy of Science at Bielefeld University is a key research area in science studies and engages in interdisciplinary cooperation with other disciplines. Traditionally, there are strong connections and collaborations with the history of science, sociology of science, and, more recently, economics of science.

Science studies at Bielefeld have a long tradition, going back to one of the university's key research areas (Universitätsschwerpunkt USP Wissenschaftsforschung), and including the former Institute of Science and Technoloy Studies IWT (Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung) focusing on sociology, philosophy, and history of science. The Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) - Germany's oldest centre of advanced studies - hosted several research groups, cooperation groups and workshops on science studies, among others the research group "Science in the Context of Application" (2006-2007), the cooperation group "Mathematics as a Tool" (2012-2015), and the cooperation group "Breaking Confines: Interdisciplinary Model-Building for a Complex World" (2018-2020)


The I²SoS

The Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of Science (I²SoS) provides an interdisciplinary platform for joint research in history, philosophy, economics of science and social studies of science. It fosters collaboration among the disciplines engaged in science studies and hosts a weekly research colloquium, interdisciplinary projects as well as the journal Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy.


Research seminars and reading groups

At the weekly I²SoS colloquium, papers are given by invited speakers and local researchers from across the philosophy, history, economics and sociology of science. The members of the Doctoral School meet several times during the semester for the GRK colloquium; there is the Brown Bag reading group in which we discuss our work in progress and a biweekly Team meeting of the philosophers of the life sciences. Additionally, the department hosts talks of invited speakers and a research seminar (Philosophischer Club).


Research projects

Present projects
DFG research project "Research in the Context of Practice: Strategies for Making Application-Oriented Science Epistemically Sound and Practically Beneficial" (2019-2022).

DFG research project "The Ontological Status of Individualised Niches"; project in the SFB-TRR 212 "A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution" (2018-2021)

DFG research project "Obstacles to Comparison in the Natural Sciences and Ways to Overcome them: The Example of Molecular Genetics"; project in the SFB 1204 "Praktiken des Vergleichens (Practices of Comparison)" (2017-2020)

DFG Doctoral School (Graduiertenkolleg 2073) "Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research" ; together with the University Hannover (since 2015)

Past projects
DFG research project "Climate Engineering In Between Reliability and Liability (CEIBRAL)", part of SPP 1689 (2013-2016); continued as "Climate Engineering Liability and Reliability: An Integrated Treatment (CELARIT)" (2016-2019)

"Responsible Research and Innovation", a project funded within the Nucleus consortium (New Understanding of Communication, Learning and Engagement in Universities and scientific institutions) within Horizon 2020 (2015-2019)

Dilthey Fellowship "Science and Values", funded by Volkswagen Stiftung (2009-2016)


International exchange

There are established exchange programs for students with internationally leading research institutions, such as the University of Notre Dame, Georgia State University, the University of Bologna, and Paris-Sorbonne University.

The department participates in the program of the EPSA (European Philosophy of Science Association) that offers visiting fellowships for junior philosophers working in Central and Eastern Europe.

The department is a member of the European Ph.D.-Network in Theoretical Philosophy, a joint scholarly program aimed at promoting the scientific quality and the internationalization of doctoral education, as well as providing doctoral students enhanced career possibilities. The participants of this network are the universities of Bergen, Bielefeld, Bologna, Bucharest, Helsinki, and Uppsala.




Verantwortlich für die Pflege der Seite: Philipp Haueis