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Research Topics in
History and Philosophy of Science


My philosophical and historical interest in the sciences is somewhat off the mainstream interest, since I focus on the experimental sciences, i.e. on what 95% of the scientists have been doing. By investigating chemistry and its adjacent fields, such as materials science, experimental physics, pharmacy, biochemistry, molecular biology, and related engineering fields, I hope to develop a more realistic view of science.(see also my research projects on nanotechnology and synthetic biology). My understanding of philosophy in "philosophy of science" includes the full scope of philosophical subdisciplines, including epistemology, methodology, ontology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, aesthetics, semiotics.

Historically, my main interests are in the history of ideas, methods, and disciplines, the relation between science and society, and in the historiography of science. I am more intested in "average science" than in the heroes, which occasionaly requires the development of new empirical and quantitative approaches.

Publications

(for paper downloads click here, for publications and presentations on nantechnlogy click here)

Books and Editions

Wozu Wissenschaft? Neun Antworten auf alte Fragen (Why Science? Nine Answers to an Old Question), Berlin: Kadmos, 2014.

Chemistry and Mathematics, Special Issue of Hyle: Interational Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Berlin 2012/13 (editor with Guillermo Restrepo), Part 1 & Part 2.

Das Gotteshandwerk: Die künstliche Herstellung von Leben im Labor (The Craft of Gods: The Artificial Creation of Life in the Laboratory), Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011.

Nanotechnologie: Spiele mit Grenzen (Nanotechnology: Playing with Boundaries), Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 2009.

The Public Image of Chemistry, Singapore et al.: World Scientific Publishing, 2007 [editor with Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent & Brigitte Van Tiggelen]

Realismus und Chemie: Philosophische Untersuchungen der Wissenschaft von den Stoffen, Würzburg (Königshausen & Neumann) 1996.

Philosophie der Chemie: Bestandsaufnahme und Ausblick, Würzburg (Königshausen & Neumann) 1996 [co-editor with Nikos Psarros & Klaus Ruthenberg].

Models in Chemistry, Special Issue of Hyle: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Karlsruhe 1999/2000 [editor].

Ethics of Chemistry, Special Issue of Hyle: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Karlsruhe 2001/2 [editor].

Aesthetics and Visualization in Chemistry, Special Issue of Hyle: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Karlsruhe 2003 [co-editor with Tami Spector].

Papers

“Science Communication across Disciplines”, in: Richard Holliman, Shelagh Ross, Eileen Scanlon, Sam Smidt & Jeff Thomas (eds.): Communicating Science in the Digital Age: Theory, research and professional practices, Oxford University Press & Open University Press, 2008 (in press).

“The Notion of Nature in Chemistry“, in: Knud J. Jensen & Anita Kildebaek (eds.), Aspects of Philosophy of Chemistry, Kopenhagen: Danish Chemical Society, 2008, pp. 27-65 (in press).

“Dealing with Radical Change and Material Complexity: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Chemistry”, in: Fritz Allhoff (ed.), Philosophy of the Special Sciences, Albany, NY, State University of New York Press (forthcoming).

“Matter versus Form, and Beyond”, in: Klaus Ruthenberg & Jaap van Brakel (Hg.): Stuff: The Nature of Chemical Substances, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann (forthcoming).

“Aesthetic Values in Technology and Engineering Design” (with Bruce MacLennan & Nigel Taylor), in: Anthonie Meijers (ed.): Handbook of the Philosophy of the Technological Sciences, (Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 9) Elsevier (forthcoming).

"The Creation of Life in Cultural Context: From Spontaneous Generation to Synthetic Biology”, in: Mark Bedau & Emily Parke (eds.): Our Future with Protocells: The Social and Ethical Implications of the Creation of Living, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008 (in print).

“Aristotelian Physics”, in: Lesley Cormack (ed.): The History of Scientific Thought, Gale Group, (forthcoming).

"The Visual Image of Chemistry: Perspectives from the History of Art and Science" (with Tami Spector), Hyle, 13 (2007), 3-41 (reprinted in: Joachim Schummer, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent & Brigitte Van Tiggelen (eds.): The Public Image of Chemistry, Singapur: World Scientific, 2007, pp. 213-257).

"Symmetrie und Schönheit in Kunst und Wissenschaft" (Symmetry and Beauty in Art and Science), in: Wolfgang Krohn (ed.), Wissenschaft und Kunst, Hamburg: Meiner, 2006, pp. 59-78 (special issue of Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft).

“Gestalt Switch in Molecular Image Perception: The Aesthetic Origin of Molecular Nanotechnology in Supramolecular Chemistry”, Foundations of Chemistry, 8 (2006), 53-72.

“Historical Roots of the ‘Mad Scientist’: Chemists in 19th-century Literature”, Ambix, 53, (2006), 99-127.

“Providing Metaphysical Sense and Orientation: Nature-Chemistry Relationships in the Popular Historiography of Chemistry”, Proceedings of 5th International Conference on the History of Chemistry, Lisbon, Portugal, 6-10 September 2005 (forthcoming).

“Philosophy of Chemistry”, in: Donald M. Borchert (Editor-in-chief), Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition, Macmillan, New York, 2005 (in print).

“Forschung für die Armen versus Forschung für die Reichen: Verteilungsgerechtigkeit als moralisches Kriterium zur Bewertung der angewandten Chemie”, in: Clemens Sedmak (Ed.), Option für die Armen in den Wissenschaften, Band 2: Naturwissenschaften und Technik, Freiburg i. Br. (Herder), 2005 (in print).

“The Philosophy of Chemistry: From Infancy Towards Maturity”, in: D. Baird, E. Scerri, L. MacIntyre (eds.), Philosophy of Chemistry: Synthesis of a New Discipline (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science series), Dordrecht (Kluwer) 2005 (in print).

“Philosophie der Chemie: Rück- und Ausblicke”, in: Klaus Griesar (ed.), Wenn der Geist die Materie küßt, Frankfurt (Harry Deutsch), 2004, pp. 37-48.

“Naturverhältnisse in der modernen Wirkstoff-Forschung”, in: K. Kornwachs (ed.), Technik – System – Verantwortung, Münster (LIT) 2004, pp. 629-638.

“Why do Chemists Perform Experiments?”, in: D. Sobczynska, P. Zeidler, E. Zielonacka-Lis (eds.), Chemistry in the Philosophical Melting Pot, Frankfurt (Peter Lang) 2004, pp. 395-410.

“Aesthetics of Chemical Products: Materials, Molecules, and Molecular Models”, Hyle, 9 (2003), 73-104.

“Chemical versus Biological Explanation: Interdisciplinarity and Reductionism in the 19th-Century Life Sciences”, in: J.E. Earley (ed.), Chemical Explanation: Characteristics, Development, Autonomy, New York (Annals of the New York Academy of Science, Vol. 988) 2003, pp. 269-281.

“The Philosophy of Chemistry”, Endeavour, 27 (2003), 37-41.

“The Notion of Nature in Chemistry”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 34 (2003), 705-736.

“The Impact of Instrumentation on Chemical Species Identity: From Chemical Substances to Molecular Species”, in: P. Morris (Ed.): From Classical to Modern Chemistry: The Instrumental Revolution, Cambridge (Royal Society of Chemistry) 2002, pp. 188-211.

“Ethics of Chemical Synthesis”, Hyle, 7 (2001), 103-124.

“Coping with the Growth of Chemical Knowledge: Challenges for Chemistry Documentation, Education, and Working Chemists”, Educación Química, 10 (1999), No. 2 (Special 10th Anniversary Edition), pp. 92-101.

“Epistemology of Material Properties”, in: Proceedings of the 20th World Congress of Philosophy, Boston/MA, USA, August 10-16, 1998, Boston 1999.

“The Chemical Core of Chemistry I: A Conceptual Approach”, Hyle, 4 (1998), 129-162.

“Towards a Philosophy of Chemistry”, Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 28 (1997), 307-336.

“Challenging Standard Distinctions between Science and Technology: The Case of Preparative Chemistry”, Hyle, 3 (1997), 81-94.

“Scientometric Studies on Chemistry II: Aims and Methods of Producing new Chemical Substances”, Scientometrics, 39 (1997), 125-140.

“Scientometric Studies on Chemistry I: The Exponential Growth of Chemical Substances, 1800-1995”, Scientometrics, 39 (1997), 107-123.

“Zur Semiotik der chemischen Zeichensprache: Die Repräsentation dynamischer Verhältnisse mit statischen Mitteln”, in: P. Janich, N. Psarros (Eds.): Die Sprache der Chemie, Würzburg (Königshausen & Neumann) 1996, pp. 113-126.

“Philosophie der Stoffe, Bestandsaufnahme und Ausblick. Von der Entstofflichung der Welt zur ökologischen Relevanz einer Philosophie der Stoffe”, in: N. Psarros, K. Ruthenberg, J. Schummer (eds.): Philosophie der Chemie – Bestandsaufnahme und Ausblick, Würzburg (Königshausen & Neumann) 1996, pp. 143-164.

“Die stoffliche Weltveränderung der Chemie: Philosophische Herausforderungen”, in: C. Hubig, H. Poser (eds.): Cognition humana - Dynamik des Wissens und der Werte. XVII. Deutscher Kongreß für Philosophie, Leipzig 1996, Workshop-Beiträge, Bd. 1, Leipzig 1996, pp. 429-436.

“Zwischen Wissenschaftstheorie und Didaktik der Chemie: Die Genese von Stoffbegriffen”, chimica didactica, 21 (1995), 85-110.

“Die philosophische Entstofflichung der Welt”, chimica didactica, 21 (1995), no. 1, 5-19.

“Ist die Chemie eine schöne Kunst? Ein Beitrag zum Verhältnis von Kunst und Wissenschaft”, Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, 40 (1995), 145-178.

“Die Rolle des Experiments in der Chemie”, in: P. Janich (ed.): Philosophische Perspektiven der Chemie, Mannheim (Bibliographisches Institut) 1994, pp. 27-51.

Presentations

“The Notion of Nature in Chemistry”, Technical University of Stuttgart, Germany, 6 November 2007.

“Epistemological Limits of Microscopic Precision”, Workshop on Visualizing the Invisible: Microscopic Processes in the Laboratory, Deutsches Museum, Munic, Germany, 18-19 October 2007.

“From Science to Technoscience: The Formation of the Disciplinary Identity of Chemistry in the 19th Century”, 6th International Conference on the History of Chemistry, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, 28 August - 1 September 2007.

“Evidence-based Philosophy of Science”, 1st Biennal Conference of the Society for the Philosophy of Science and Engineering Practice (Twente University, Netherlands, 23-25 August 2007.

“The Notion of Nature in Chemistry”, Technical University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 17 April 2007.

“Stuff and Form: An Anti-metaphysical Analysis”, Workshop on Stuff: The Nature of Chemical Substances, University of Leuven, Belgium, 26 July 2006

“From the phenomenological shape of crystals to the mathematical theory of symmetry: a history of the crystallographic concept of form”, Form als Prinzip, Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, 15-16 December 2005

“Realism and Atomism in 19th-Century Chemistry”, 2nd Annual German-American Frontiers of Humanities Symposium, University of Hamburg, Germany, 20-23 October 2005.

"Providing Metaphysical Sense and Orientation: Nature-Chemistry Relations in the Popular Historiography of Science", Chemistry, Technology and Society (5th European Conference on the History of Chemistry), Lisbon, Portugal, 6-10 September 2005.

“Self-Assembly versus Atom-by-Atom-Manipulation: Conflicting Technological Paradigms in Nanotechnology”, 9th International Symposium on the Philosophy of Chemistry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA, 7-11 August 2005.

“The Visual Image of Chemistry”, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 23 March 2005 (with Tami Spector).

“The Twisted History of Supramolecular Chemistry: Or, why relabeling supramolecular chemistry ‘nano’ is both justified and welcome”, Nano Before There Was Nano: Historical Perspectives on the Constituent Communities of Nanotechnology, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 18-19 March 2005.

“Experimental versus Theoretical Part/Whole Relations in Chemistry”, Annual Conference of the Société de philosophie des sciences, Paris, France, 21-22 January 2005.

“The History of the Notion of Nature in Chemistry”, University of Hamburg, Germany, 12 January 2005.

“Interdisciplinarity and Multidisciplinarity in Nanoscale Research”, Nanotechnology in Science, Economy and Society, University of Marburg, Germany, 13-15 January 2005.

“The History of the Notion of Nature in Chemistry”, University of Hamburg, Germany, 12 January 2005.

“Techno-Scientism as Religion: Transhumanism”, University of Darmstadt, Germany, 3 November 2004.

“The Visual Image of Chemistry”, The Public Image of Chemistry, Conference of the IUHPS/DHS Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry, Paris, France, 17-18 September 2004 (with Tami Spector).

“The History of the Notion of Nature in Chemistry”, University of Darmstadt, Germany, 15 June 2004.

“Philosophical Topics of Chemistry”, University of Sofia, Bulgaria, 28 May 2004.

“Interdisciplinarity in Nanoscale Research”, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA, 14 April 2004.

“Ethics of Chemical Synthesis”, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA, 24 March 2004.

“The Aesthetic Origin of Nanotechnology in Supramolecular Chemistry: Gestalt Switch in Molecular Image Perception”, Imaging and Imagining NanoScience and Engineering”, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA, 3-7 March 2004.

“Ethics of Chemical Synthesis”, Department of Philosophy, University of San Francisco, USA, 6 February 2004.

“Interdisciplinarity in Nanoscale Research”, Department of Chemistry, University of San Francisco, USA, 5 February 2004.

“Patterns of Interdisciplinarity in Nanoscale Research”, Nanoelectronics Symposium, Nanocenter, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA, 21 November 2003 (poster presentation).

“Multidisciplinarity, Interdisciplinarity, and Patterns of Collaborations in Nanoscale Research”, Annual Meeting of the Society of Social Studies of Science (4S), Atlanta, GA, USA, 16-19 October, 2003.

“Interdisciplinary Issues of Nanoscale Research, II”, Discovering the Nanoscale II, University of Darmstadt, Germany, 9-12 October 2003.

“Interdisciplinarity versus Reductionism: An Analysis of Four Debates in the Life Sciences”, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA, 15 April 2003.

“Interdisciplinary Issues of Nanoscale Research, I”, Discovering the Nanoscale I, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA, 20-23 March 2003.

“Natural versus Chemical: A Conceptual Clarification”, University of Karlsruhe, Germany, 4 December 2002.

“Philosophy of Chemistry: From Infancy towards Maturity”, Conference of the International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry, Washington DC, USA, 4-8 August 2002 (opening lecture, invited)

“Concepts of Nature in Modern Drug Research”, Technology – System – Responsibility, University of Cottbus, Germany, 10-13 July 2002 (invited).

“Interdisciplinarity and Reductionism in the Life Sciences: A Comparison of Four Controversies”, University of Karlsruhe, Germany, 3 July 2002.

“Natural versus Chemical: A Conceptual Clarification”, University of Darmstadt, Germany, 18 June 2002.

“Ethics of Chemical Synthesis”, Conference of the International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry, Loughborough, U.K., 6-9 August 2001 (invited).

“The Impact of Instrumentation on Chemical Species Identity”, From the Test-Tube to the Autoanalyzer: The Development of Chemical Instrumentation in the 20th Century, Workshop of the International Commission for the History of Modern Chemistry, Science Museum, London, U.K., 10-12 August 2000 (invited).

“The Role of Nature in Conceiving and Judging Chemical Manipulation of Matter”, Conference of the International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry, Poznan, Poland, 7-10 August 2000 (invited).

“Why do Chemists Perform Experiments?”, Symposium on the Philosophy of Chemistry, London School of Economics, Center for Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences, London, UK, 13 May 2000 (invited).

“Coping with the Growth of Knowledge: Challenges to the Chemical Information Management”, European Media Lab, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 17 April 2000.

“Ethics of Chemical Research”, University of Freiburg, Germany, 26 October 1999.

“Philosophical De-materialization of the World”, Materiality, Immateriality, and Archeology of Materials, Workshop of the Lucerna Foundation, University of Luzern, Switzerland, 28-30 September 1998 (invited).

“Epistemology of Material Properties”, Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, Boston/MA, USA, 10-17 August 1998.

“Population Dynamics in the Chemical Zoo: Dynamics, Aims, and Methods of Synthetic Chemistry”, University of Bielefeld, Germany, 20 January 1998.

“Aesthetic Potentials of Chemical Products: Substances, Molecules and Molecular Models”, College at Holzen, Germany, 12 December 1997.

“On Striving for Pleasure”, Third International Congress of the Society for Analytical Philosophy (GAP 3), University of Munic, Germany, 15-18 September 1997.

“Problems of Physical Reduction: the Chemical Core of Chemistry”, Technical University of Munich, Germany, 17 June 1997.

“Challenging Standard Distinctions between Science and Technology: The Case of Preparative Chemistry”, Advances in the Philosophy of Technology, Annual Conference of the Académie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences, Karlsruhe, Germany, 20-24 May 1997 (invited).

“Aesthetic Potentials of Chemical Products: Substances, Molecules and Molecular Models”, The Deviation via Art, Workshop of the Program ‘Chemistry and Humanities’ of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Wolfenbüttel Library, Germany, 1-2 March 1997 (invited).

“Population Dynamics in the Chemical Zoo. Dynamics, Aims, and Methods of Synthetic Chemistry”, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 5 February 1997.

“Chemistry’s Change of the Material World: Philosophical Challenges”, 17th German Congress for Philosophy, University of Leipzig, Germany, 23-27 September 1996.

“Physical Chemistry - Neither Fish nor Fowl?”, Third Erlenmeyer-Colloquy for the Philosophy of Chemistry, University of Marburg, Germany, 16-17 September 1996 (invited).

“How to do Descriptive Methodology? Meta-methodological Reflections on the Investigation of Methodological Pecularities of Scientific Disciplines”, Annual Conference of the German-Hungarian Society for Philosophy, Fellbach, Germany, 20-21 November 1995, (invited).

“Peculiarities of Chemistry”, Tenth International Congress of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, Florence, Italy, 19-25 August 1995.

“Problems of Physical Reduction: the Chemical Core of Chemistry”, International Workshop on Chemistry and Reduction, University of Konstanz, Germany, 15-17 June 1995 (invited).

“On the Semiotics of the Chemical Sign Language: Representation of Dynamical Relations by Static Means”, Second Erlenmeyer-Colloquy on Philosophy of Chemistry, University of Marburg, Germany, 11-12 November 1994 (invited).

“On the Environmental Relevance of a Philosophy of Substances”, International Conference on Philosophy of Chemistry, University of Karlsruhe, Germany, 16-17 April 1994.

“Philosophical De-materialization of the World”, International Conference on Philosophy of Chemistry, University of Karlsruhe, Germany, 16-17 April 1994.

“The Role of Experiments in Chemistry”, First Erlenmeyer-Colloquy on Philosophy of Chemistry, University of Marburg, Germany, November 1993 (invited).

“Experimentalism in Chemistry”, Workshop on Philosophy of Chemistry, Technical University of Coburg, Germany, 19 June 1993 (invited).

Last update: 6/11/2014