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. Click on the arrows to explore the different research topics that our team works on!
How do scientists explain biological phenomena such as protein folding? When can they reduce macrolevel properties to the molecular machinery underlying them? What is the relation between biological units (e.g. cells) as a whole and their parts (e.g. mitochondria)?
How many areas does the brain have? An answer to this question turns not only on anatomical data, but also on our concept of a "brain area". This famous map of the human cortex by Korbinian Brodmann depicts 43 areas.
Recent work in behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology suggest that biological individuals like this long-tailed broadbill live in their own, individual niche. But what is the precise meaning of the concept of an "individualized ecological niche"? And what kinds of things are individualized niches in the world?
What mental representations do frogs and toads use to catch their food? How are these representations related to the evolution of their perceptual systems? And what does that tell us about the function of mental representations in humans?
How should we use scientific insights to tackle broader social issues? For example: how should we use climate science to distribute the risks of global climate change in a just manner? How should we deal with uncertainty in climate models when devising climate policy decisions? Which means do we have for assessing this uncertainty and limiting its impact?
What is good evidence for models in nutrition science? And how are models of nutrition intertwined with views about health in society at large?
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.
The Institute for Interdisciplinary studies of science (I²SoS) holds a weekly colloquium, in which 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 weekly Team meeting of the philosophers of the life sciences (PhilBio Meeting). In the reading group Classics and Gems, graduate students and anyone else interested discuss high-profile classics and lesser known gems from post-positivist philosophy of science (monthly meetings Tuesdays 2-4p, please contact Rose Trappes for details). Additionally, the department hosts talks of invited speakers and a research seminar (Philosophischer Club).
Philosophy of science in Bielefeld has an international orientation. Our team regularly offers classes, colloquia and conferences in English and with participation of international scholars.
Students can participate in exchange programs with leading institutions, such as the University of Notre Dame, Georgia State University, University of Bologna, Paris-Sorbonne University.
Bielefeld also participates in the EPSA program offering visiting fellowships for
junior philosophers working in Central and Eastern Europe.
For graduate students can be part of the European Ph.D.-Network in Theoretical Philosophy, which aims at promoting the scientific quality and the internationalization of doctoral education (members: universities of Bergen, Bielefeld, Bologna, Bucharest, Helsinki, and Uppsala).
The I²SoS hosts several research projects, amongst them the DFG-funded Doctoral School "Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research" , two DFG-funded research projects on research in the context of application, and 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 Collaboraltive Research Centres (CRCs), one on "A Novel synthesis of Individualization across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution" the other one on "Practices of Comparing".
DFG research project “Complex Biological Dispositions: A Case Study in the Metaphysics of Biological Practice”; project in the research group FOR 2495 “Inductive Metaphysics” (2020-2023)
ZiF Cooperation group "Governance, Incentives, and the Quality of Knowledge" (2019-2021)
DFG research project "The Ontological Status of Individualised Niches"; project in the CRC-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 CRC 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)
ZiF Cooperation group "Breaking Confines: Interdisciplinary Model-Building for a Complex World" (2018-2020)
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)
ZiF Cooperation group "Mathematics as a Tool" (2012-2015)
ZiF Research group "Science in the Context of Application" (2006-2007)
Dr. Aleksander Ostapiuk (U. Wroclaw), November 2019
Prof. Milos Arsenijevic (University of Belgrade), October – December 2019
Dr. Milos Vuletic (University of Belgrade), October – December 2019
Prof. Justin Biddle (Georgia Institute of Technology), May – July 2015
Prof. Zaiqing Fang (Chinese Academy of Sciences), June – July 2016, October – December 2018