Maria Kronfeldner

MA Director

Contact information

Vienna, Quellenstrasse 51

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: human nature, dehumanization, essentialism, causation, explanation, complexity, integration, unity and pluralism of scientific perspectives, science and values, biomedical sciences, anthropology, 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, funded by CEU's Research Excellence Scheme. The project is a continuation of the project "Topics in the Human and Social Sciences" (ToPHSS), funded by the CEU Humanities initiative. The recently published Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization is part of that project. The next stage of that project will focus on Complicity in Sciences. 

Service for the community: She is steering committee member of the European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA) and member of the scientific advisory board of the Karl Popper Foundation. She is also a member of the advisory board of the OSUN-funded Global Observatory on Academic Freedom. She served as a council member of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) from 2013-17, and 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 CEU she is a member of the Social Mind Center and the Science Studies Research Group. She is MA Program Director in the Philosophy Department, directs CEU's Philosophy Research and Publish Lab (launched in Fall 2015), and serves as a member of the Faculty Group that ensisions a future for CEU at the Otto-Wagner-Areal in Vienna.

In Vienna, two new collaborations have been started with the Unit for Applied Philosophy of Science and Epistemology and the Institute Vienna Circle (at the University of Vienna): a APSE-CEU-IVC lecture series and a relaunch of our Science-Studies Lab

For current and prospective students: If you have urgent matters, please turn to the respective offices we have at CEU and write to Kriszta Biber, our departmental coordinator, about administrative issues. For academic issues and in case you need to discuss some administrative issues related to the MA program in detail, please register via email for a consultation (no default office hour slot in June, July and August).    

Recent conferences and workshops organized: 

NEW BOOK OUT! The Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization (2021), featuring articles from leading experts on dehumanization, from a diversity of social science and humanities disciplines.

Latest monograph: "What's Left of Human Nature" (2018) available from MIT Press. See: 

Selected recent 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):

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

Community engagement 


PhD 2007, Philosophy, University of Regensburg

Projects with involvement of Maria Kronfeldner