Maria Kronfeldner works in the philosophy of the life sciences and the philosophy of the social sciences and has published widely in these areas. She has been awarded The Karl Popper Essay Prize of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science and 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, in particular philosophy of anthropology, social philosophy.
Area of competence: history of the life sciences, general philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of mind.
Research focus: anthropology, human nature, dehumanization, essentialism, causation, explanation, complexity, integration, unity and pluralism of scientific perspectives, science and values, 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 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.
In the last years, she worked on human nature between science, philosophy and politics. Her new book What's Left of Human Nature: A Post-essentialist, Pluralist and Interactive Account of a Contested Concept (2018, MIT Press) brings together several branches of her research, 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 The Epistemology of the In/Human. The project is a continuation of the project "Topics in the Human and Social Sciences" (ToPHSS), funded by the CEU Humanities initiative. So far it included an interdisciplinary and international conference on Dehumanization: New approaches to the politics of human nature (April 2016), a smaller philosophical Workshop on Dehumanization (Jan 2017), and further events. In 2020, we will have a Workshop on Dehumanization and Narrative Empathy in Literary Theory and Philosophy, co-organized with Andrea Timár, Senior Core Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at CEU, Budapest. In cooperation with the artist Lukas Einsele and the Group Kultur einer Digitalstadt e.V, we will also realize the philosophical-artistic project Hiding Faces, studying and visualizing togehter the cultural, social and philosophical meanings of faces, in order to understand how contemporary technological and social challenges affect our ways of being human.
Service for the community: She has recently been elected as new steering committee member of the European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA). She served as a council member of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) from 2013-17, initiated and directed the German Network for Philosophy of the Life Sciences from 2011-2014. She has also served in recent years on a variety of program committees for international conferences.
At the CEU she is a member of the Social Mind Center, the Science Studies Research Group, directs the Philosophy Research and Publish Lab (launched in Fall 2015), co-directs the Science-Studies Lab. She is also a member of CEU's Psychological Research Ethics Board.
NEW! (as part of the Epistemology of the In/Human Project)
- We will edit the Routledge Handbook on Dehumanization, featuring 25 articles from leading experts on dehumanization, from a diversity of social science and humanities disciplines.
- We offer Two Fully Funded Interdisiciplinary PhD Fellowships in the thematic area "Understanding Humanity". See here. (Call now closed).
Recent conferences and workshops organized:
- Workshop (in planning) on Thick concepts, co-organized with Catherine Herfeld (Zürich)
- Workshop on Dehumanization and Narrative Empathy in Literary Theory and Philosophy, co-organized with Andrea Timár (Senior Core Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at CEU), Budapest, postponed to Jun 15, 2021)
- Workshop Who's afraid of Values? Value-fact entanglements in scientific research (Budapest, 09 Jul, 2018)
- Workshop Science Studies in Budapest 2 (Budapest, 05 Jun, 2018)
- Symposium: "Human nature and dehumanization," as part of the conference "Norm und Natur", Kongress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Philosophie (Berlin, 24-27 Sep 17)
- Workshop on Dehumanization (Budapest, 31 Jan, 2017)
- Conference "Dehumanization: New Approaches to the Politics of Human Nature" (Budapest, 6-8 Apr, 2016).
Recent book: "What's Left of Human Nature" now available from MIT Press. See:
- The synopsis, the cover, a preview, and a ebook-version (for CEU members).
- A podcast-interview on the "New Books in Philosophy" series.
- Reviews: International Studies in Philosophy of Science (reviewed by Andrew Buskell), Notre Dame Review of Books (reviewed by P. Honenberger); British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (reviewed by S. Downes); Social Epistemology Review (reviewed by R. Sassower).
Selected recent draft papers, talks, media appearance and other news (for older news from AY 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 scroll down to File attachements and see the Archive):
- Paper The Paradox of Dehumanization Resolved (draft, to be submitted), presented at CEU's Philosophy Departmental Colloquium, 28 Apr 2020.
- Paper Psychological Essentialism and Dehumanization, forthcoming as part of the Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization, edited by Maria Kronfeldner; to be presented at the international conference on Dehumanization: New Philosophical Perspectives, Helsinki, Sep 24-25.
- Paper Wie der Mitmensch zum Gegenmenschen wird (on the limits of empathy and how to extend them, in German), presented at the Conference of the Club of Vienna "Empathie als evolutionary Leistung und ihre Bedeutung für die Bewältigung globaler Krisen", Nov 18, 2019, Vienna (see Video below).
- Paper On Academic Freedom as a Prerequisite for Scientific Creativity (under revision), presented at the 2019 British Society of Aesthetics Connection Conference "Creativity Across the Arts and Sciences", Bristol, 16-17 Apr, 2019.
- Paper Digging the Channels of Inheritance (draft), submitted as part of a special issue on foundations of cultural evolution.
- Paper Going Public: Expertise and Professional Responsibility in Philosophy (draft, with Alexander Reutlinger), presented at Workshop "Die gesellschaftliche Rolle der Philosophie", Erlangen, 01-02 Nov, 2018; to be presented at IVC Conference "The Vienna Circle: Its History and Importance Today", Vienna, 22-24 Oct, 2020.
- Paper Two Reasons Why the Purist Approach to Science Fails (draft) presented at the Conference of the German Society for Analytic Philosophy (GAP), Cologne, 17-20 Sep, 2018.
- Best practice guidelines on Controversial Academic Invitations: Some Best Practises (draft).
- Invited Response on Ausgrenzung oder Diskurs? Fragen des Umgangs mit extremen Positionen (Exclusion or discussion? How to react to extremist positions), published at Information Philosophie.
- Interview on Can We Get Rid of Dehumanization? In the Hungarian weekly Élet és Irodalom (vol. LXIII/30), Jul 26, 2019. Interviewer: László Köszeghy.
- Keynote at ELTE's "Human Enigma" Group Conference on Dehumanization, 07-08 Jan 2019, Budapest.
- Blog post on CEU "A University Goes Into Exile", American Philosophical Association (APA) Blog, 03 Jan 2019.
- Keynote "Explanatory Looping Effects", at the European Network for Philosophy of the Social Sciences (ENPOSS) Meeting 2018, 30 Aug - 01 Sep, 2018. (Relates to one chapter of the new book "What's Left of Human Nature" (see above).
- Paper "Divide and Conquer: The Authority of Nature and Why We Disagree about Human Nature" now published.
Videos and Podcasts
- Talk and panel discussion: Das Eigene und das Fremde: Ein Einblick in die Multi-Disziplinarität der CEU. Wiener Vorlesungen - Positionen einer Stadt, May 14, 2020.
- Presentation: Wie der Mitmensch zum Gegenmensch wird. Club of Vienna Conference "Empathie als evolutionary Leistung und ihre Bedeutung für die Bewältigung globaler Krisen" (Link to audio-file).
- Podcast: How we are Human, a discussion of 2017 ToPHSS course lecturer and participants, directed and compiled by Magdalena Smieszek. (Link to audio-file).
- Presentation: Limits of Explaining Creativity, as part of the 2017 Creative Cognition Summer University Course, CEU. (Link to audio-file)
- 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).
- Keynote lecture "The right to ignore: An epistemic defense of the nature/culture divide" at the Meeting of the Nordic Network for Philosophy of Science, Helsinki, Apr 23-24, 2015. (Link to video). (The final paper related to the talk is forthc, as part of the "Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy", ed. by R. Joyce).
- Discussion with Marshall Sahlins on "The Western Illusion of Human Nature", Chicago, Jan 2014. (Link to video)
- Radio Interview (BR) on memes: Is this real life?, Munich, Apr 2013.
- TV Discussion Scobel (3SAT): Evolution und Fortschritt, (on cultural evolution), Mainz, Oct 2009.
PhD Student advising
- Matthew Baxendale (CEU, supervisor, 2014-2018)
- 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, 2015-2019)
- Rebecca Mertens (Bielefeld, supervisor, 2011-15)
- Elena Popa (CEU, member of dissertation committee, 2016)
- Katsiaryna Suryna (CEU, supervisor, 2016-2019)
- Mentor for Arbeiterkind e.V.
- Faculty member of the CEU's Chapter in the student project Minorities and Philosophy (MAP).
- Mentor for the Society for Women in Philosophy Germany e.V. (till 2019)