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, philosophical 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, in print, 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 Topics in the Philosophy of the Humanities and Social Sciences (ToPHSS), with a focus on the boundary work between disciplines and the political relevance of core anthropological concepts, in particular the human, person and individual and the nature-culture divide. The critical comparison of ontological and epistemological assumptions in the natural and social sciences is part of this orientation. This project included 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). The project shall be continued under the label The Epistemology of the In/Human. (More on that soon ...)
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 and is CEU-embassador for the Society for Women in Philosophy Germany e.V. At the CEU she is a member of the Science Studies Research Group, directs the Philosophy Research and Publish Lab (launched in Fall 2015), and is faculty member of the CEU's Chapter in the student project Minorities and Philosophy (MAP).
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, media appearance and other news (for older news from 2015-16, scroll down to File attachements and see the Archive):
- The book on human nature is in print with MIT Press (spring/summer 2018). See here for a synopsis.
- Paper on Explaining Creativity, now published. See preview of published version or postprint.
- Talk on the Purist Approach to Science at Theoretical Philosophy Forum at ELTE, Budapest, 28 Feb 18.
- Talk: Ist die Nature-Kultur-Unterscheidung noch zu retten? Conference of the Research Group „The Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans“ (ROCEEH), Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, Heidelberg, 24 Nov 17.
- Panel discussion on Citizen Science, Research Data, Access to Knowledge, and Beyond, as part of the Open Science Event, CEU, Budapest, Nov 22.
- Talk on causal reasoning, Philosophy Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, 07 Nov 17. (Paper will also be presented at the launching-event of our new Science Studies Lab, Nov 16 17).
- Presentation on Gender inequality, underdetermination and assumptions about giftedness and creativity in philosophy and other fields, at Faculty Seminar on "Scaling gender research: Understanding inequalities from millions of observations to in-depth fieldwork", Budapest, 07 Nov 17.
- Symposium: Human nature and dehumanization, Conference "Norm und Natur", Kongress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Philosophie, Berlin, 24-27 Sep 17.
- Panel discussion: Bedrohtes Denken? (on political challenges of academic freedom), as part of the Kongress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Philosophie, Berlin, 24-27 Sep 17. See forthcoming comment on the discussion (co-authored with Alexander Reutlinger).
- Talk: Time to stop talking about human nature?, as part of the Symposium "Human diversity in scientific practice", 2017 Meeting of the European Philosophy of Science Assocation, Exeter, 05-09 Sep 17.
- Interview on dehumanization, as part of the Relativism and Racism Blog Series, Emergence of Relativism Blog, ERC Group, Vienna.
- Panel discussion: "Crises of political communication: misleading public speech and how to deal with it", as part of the World Press Freedom Day at CEU, 03 May 17.
- On stage at the Munich March for Science, 22 Apr 17.
- 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: "How to distinguish channels of inheritance", Konrad Lorenz Institute, 15 Mar 17, Vienna.
- Talk: "Defending the nature-culture divide" as part of "The Human Mind Project", 2 Mar 17, London.
- Interview: "Darwinian creativity, memetics and other issues ...", 3:AM Magazine, 14 Jan 17.
Videos and Podcasts
- 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-)
- 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-)