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LMU nominee among new Humboldt Professors: Philosopher Stephan Hartmann receives coveted award

Munich, 04/20/2012

LMU Munich has notched up another success in the latest round of applications for Alexander von Humboldt Professorships. Stephan Hartmann, currently Professor of Epistemology and Philosophy of Science at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, who was nominated by LMU, is among those recently chosen to receive the sought-after research award by the Humboldt Foundation’s Selection Committee.

Stephan Hartmann is one of the leading lights in an international group of specialists who use methods borrowed from natural and social sciences to explore philosophical questions. He becomes the fourth Humboldt Professor to come to LMU, following in the footsteps of systems biologist Ulrike Gaul, astrophysicist Georgi Dvali and philosopher Hannes Leitgeb. “This award demonstrates once again that LMU Munich offers an internationally competitive environment and excellent conditions for leading scholars and researchers,” says LMU President Bernd Huber. “The appointment of Stephan Hartmann strengthens our research profile further and makes LMU one of the top research locations in Philosophy worldwide.”

At the intersection of several disciplines
In his research Hartmann uses mathematical modeling and computer simulations to tackle long-standing questions in many areas of philosophy. His work has already had a substantial influence on mathematical philosophy – an area that continues to grow in significance. The basic strategy used in this field involves recasting philosophical propositions as mathematical problems, using analytical and numerical methods to solve these, and interpreting the solutions in philosophical terms. Among Hartmann’s most important contributions to this branch of philosophy is a book entitled “Bayesian Epistemology”, which he co-authored with Luc Bovens of the London School of Economics. In the book, he demonstrates the application of the theory of so-called Bayesian networks, which has become an essential tool in many fields of science, to a broad spectrum of philosophical problems – ranging from epistemology to issues in the philosophy of science. The approach has uncovered interesting connections to cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence research. Hartmann is also keenly interested in the philosophy of the natural and social sciences. Trained as a physicist, he has made especially notable contributions to clarifying the foundations and methodology of physics.

His expertise in mathematical philosophy and the philosophy of science will enable Hartmann to continue LMU’s long tradition of distinguished contributions to the philosophical foundations of science. At the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP), set up recently by his fellow Humboldt Professor Hannes Leitgeb, specialists in various disciplines work together to apply the methods of mathematical logic to philosophical problems. Hartmann’s research orientation dovetails perfectly with Leitgeb’s own interests and, in addition to occupying the Chair in Philosophy of Science, he will join Leitgeb as Co-Director of the MCMP.

Stephan Hartmann was born in 1968, and studied Physics and Philosophy at Giessen University, where he obtained a doctorate in Philosophy. He subsequently held research posts at various universities, including LMU Munich, Konstanz, and Pittsburgh (USA). From 2002 to 2005 he was Director of the Research Group on Philosophy, Probability and Modeling at Konstanz. During the period 2003-2007 he also worked at the London School of Economics, becoming Director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS) there in 2004, and Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method in 2006. In 2007 Hartmann was appointed Professor and Founding Director of the Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS) at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

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