Maria Kronfeldner works in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences and the Philosophy of the Social Sciences. She has published widely in this area, and has been awarded for some of her publications (The Karl Popper Essay Prize of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science; The Philosophical Quarterly International Essay Prize). From 2010-2014 she was Junior Professor at Bielefeld University. Earlier she held several fellowships, among them at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin; at the Fishbein Center for History of Science and Medicine of the University of Chicago; at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh; and at the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science of the University of Sydney. She earned her PhD at the University of Regensburg in 2006.
Area of specialisation: philosophy of the life sciences, philosophy of the social sciences.
Area of competence: history of the life sciences, general philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of mind.
Research focus: anthropology, biomedical sciences, evolutionary biology.
Profile: During her graduate time, she focused on philosophy of mind, pragmatism, and environmental ethics. Combining her interest in philosophy of mind with her artistic activities (theatre, video, photography), she started to do research on philosophy of creativity. Since novelty is not only occurring in human minds, but also in nature, her research on the concept of creativity led her to the history and philosophy of the life sciences (HPLS). She has analysed Darwinian approaches to creativity and cultural evolution as well as the history of the concept of culture and cultural inheritance.
Currently, her main project is a book on the concept of human nature with the working title: Divide and Conquer - Human nature between science, philosophy and politics. The book aims to bring together several branches of her research on issues such as essentialism, causation, explanation, normalcy, reductionism, complexity, integration and unity of sciences, as well as science and values. A new project has recently been launched under the label Topics in the Philosophy of the Humanities and Social Sciences (ToPHSS). Among other things, this project includes an interdisciplinary and international conference on "Dehumanization: New approaches to the politics of human nature" (April 2016) and a smaller philosophical Workshop on Dehumanization (Jan 2017).
Service for the community: She is currently council member of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB), has initiated and directed the German Network for Philosophy of the Life Sciences from 2011-2014 and is CEU-embassador for the Society for Women in Philosophy Germany e.V. At the CEU she is part of the Science Studies Program, directs the Philosophy Research and Publish Lab (launched in Fall 2015).
Recent conferences and workshops organized:
- Workshop on Dehumanization (Budapest, 31 Jan, 2017)
- Conference "Dehumanization: New Approaches to the Politics of Human Nature" (Budapest, 6-8 Apr, 2016).
Selected recent draft papers, talks and media appearance:
- Panel discussion on the film "The Experimenter" on Stanley Milgram and his experiments on obedience, as part of the Vienna Brain Awareness Week, 15 Mar 17.
- Talk on "How to distinguish channels of inheritance", Konrad Lorenz Institute, 15 Mar 17, Vienna.
- Talk on "Defending the nature-culture divide" as part of "The Human Mind Project", 2 Mar 17, London.
- Interview at "3:AM Magazine" on Darwinian creativity, memetics and other issues of Maria's work.
- Talk: Reden über die menschliche Natur - Nutzen oder Gefahr? Club of Vienna e.V., Vienna, 06 Oct 16. (Link to video).
- Talk: Explanatory looping effects. Colloquium in Philosophy, Logic and Philosophy of Science, Munic Center for Mathematical Philosophy, 06 Jul 16.
- Talk: The nature/culture divide in the postgenomic era. Lecture series Biology of Genomes, Center for Advanced Studies der LMU, 13 Jun 16, München
- Talk on eliminating the concept of human nature at the Colloquium of the Graduate College "Sciences in Context" at the University of Vienna, May 04, 2016. (If interested in the draft paper, please contact me to request a copy of the draft.)
- Presentation: Leaps into the dark: Freedom as spontaneity, as part of the university-wide faculty seminar on "Open Societies and Free Minds: Hannah Arendt and the Idea of Open Society", Mar 18, 2016. (Link to video).
- Talk on eliminating the concept of human nature, GWP Conference, Duesseldorf, Mar 10, 2016.
- Talk on the authority of 'nature', CRASSH Conference "Why we disagree about human nature", Cambridge, Dec 11, 2015.
- Talks on ontological arguments for distinguishing nature and culture in evolutionary contexts, at CEU (Budapest), University of Vienna and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (ZiF) in Bielefeld, Oct 2015. (If interested in the draft paper, please contact me to request a copy of the draft.)
- Presentation on dehumanization of refugees and the duty to know as part of the Philosophy panel discussing the refugee crisis, and how to help in Hungary, Sep 22, 2015.
- Session on dehumanization, Meeting of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology, Montreal, Jul 07, 2015, including talk on the Politics of human nature. See paper.
- Talk: Naturgemäß ausgegrenzt: Die normative Kraft des Begriff der menschlichen Natur, 10. Congress of the Austrian Society for Philosophy "Being Human – Foundation, Imperative or Platitude?", Innsbruck, Jun 04-06, 2015. See paper.
- Talk: The genealogical concept of human nature, LabEx-"Who am I"-Workshop "Articulating Nature and Nurture: Inheritance, Heredity and Transmission of Identity", Paris, May 5-6, 2015. (Parts from the book manuscript on "Divide and Conquer: Human nature between Science, Philosophy and Politics". If interested, drop me a line).
- Keynote lecture: The right to ignore: An epistemic defense of the nature/culture divide, Meeting of the Nordic Network for Philosophy of Science, Helsinki, Apr 23-24, 2015. There is a video of the talk. (The talk presented parts from the book manuscript on "Divide and Conquer: Human nature between Science, Philosophy and Politics". If interested, drop me a line).
- Discussion with Marshall Sahlins on "The Western Illusion of Human Nature", Chicago, Jan 2014. (Link to video)
- Radio Interview (BR): Is this real life? (on memes), Munich, Apr 2013.
- TV Discussion Scobel (3SAT): Evolution und Fortschritt, (on cultural evolution), Mainz, Oct 2009.
PhD Student advising
- Matthew Baxendale (CEU, supervisor, 2014-)
- Dan Brooks (Bielefeld, associate supervisor, 2010-14)
- Münir Cem Kayaligil (CEU, member of dissertation committee, 2016)
- Stephan Kopsieker (Bielefeld, associate supervisor, 2011-16)
- Michele Luchetti (CEU, supervisor, 2015-)
- Rebecca Mertens (Bielefeld, supervisor, 2011-15)
- Elena Popa (CEU, member of dissertation committee, 2016)
- Katsiaryna Suryna (CEU, supervisor, 2016-)