I am assistant professor of philosophy of science at University College Groningen and at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Groningen. I am also a member of the Young Academy Groningen and an external member of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP).
Prior to coming to Groningen, I substituted as professor of theoretical philosophy at the University of Göttingen after working as a postdoc in the research collaboration "Epistemology of the LHC" at the University of Wuppertal and as academic visitor at the University of Cambridge, UK. Previously, I studied physics and philosophy in Göttingen and Lausanne. I hold a PhD in philosophy from the University of Bonn, where Andreas Bartels was my supervisor, and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Heidelberg, where Christof Wetterich was my supervisor.
I have very diverse research interests. The following is a broad overview of them that gives you an impression of my main philosophical ideas and preferences.
Currently, I am working on a research project "Epistemology of the Multiverse", funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) through a Veni grant. The project explores the prospects for empirically testing theories according to which the laws of nature and the constants vary across space-time or even across universes that together form a "multiverse". To achieve this goal, I try to develop a coherent and useful framework of anthropic reasoning. This article here on on the observer reference class problem in cosmology, forthcoming in Physical Review D, is a beginning.
I am intrigued by the challenge to make sense of quantum theory. An excellent brief account of my published thoughts has been written by Richard Healey's in his SEP-entry "Quantum-Bayesian and Pragmatist Views of Quantum Theory", Section 5.1. My papers concerning the prospects for epistemic accounts of quantum states can be found here, here, here, here, and a paper concerning the compatibility of (so-called) non-local quantum correlations with relativity theory here. My monograph "Interpreting Quantum Theory -- A Therapeutic Approach" brings together all the different threads of my work on quantum theory until now. It has been reviewed for Erkenntnis by Florian Boge.
In addition, the significance of symmetries and symmetry breaking in physics have intrigued me, in particular how symmetries connect to questions of identity among physical states (here) and what it actually means for different types of symmetries to be spontaneously broken (here, here). Recently, I was guest editor of a special section on philosophical perspectives on particle physics after the Higgs discovery in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, together with Dennis Lehmkuhl, see here.
Some of my work on quantum theory has a direct bearing on questions with a general relevance for philosophy of science, in particular concerning the nature of objective probabiliy and causation (here). Together with Koray Karaca and theoretical physicist Robert Harlander I wrote a paper on the notion "ad hoc hypothesis" and its application to methodological issues concerning the Higgs mechanism, in particular the violation of "naturalness" (here).
My work in epistemology focuses on problems of rational self-locating belief, a topic that has a bearing on diverse issues, from everyday contexts to the evaluation of cosmological theories. Two papers of mine in this field (here and here) explore the relevance of an epistemic agent's causal context and the appearance of anomalous causal powers according to some suggested accounts of self-locating belief.
To understand mathematics and mathematical activity, it is crucial to have a clear view of the functioning of mathematical language. I am tempted by Wittgenstein's idea that mathematical language has an essentially normative, rather than descriptive, mode of use. Whereas Wittgenstein applied this perspective on mathematics predominantly with an eye on applications of mathematics, I argue that it fits surprisingly well with the modern axiomatic approach to pure mathematics (here). As I see it, such a Wittgensteinian approach to mathematical language supports deflationary perspectives on mathematical truth and mathematical objects (in German). Inasmuch as a structuralist view of mathematical objects is compatible with such perspectives, I think that it can and should be extended to meta-mathematics (here).
As a PhD student in physics I co-authored three papers on high-temperature superconductivity and its relation to anti-ferromagnetism in a simple model of fermions on a lattice, the so-called Hubbard model (see here for the final installment of the series). This work is based on a renormalization group approach to the development of which my physics PhD supervisor Christof Wetterich made decisive contributions.
I have many further philosophical interests, for example in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of biology. In addition, I am fascinated by evolutionary psychology and very interested in how its insights may help us structure human society in a fair way that allows everyone to flourish.
I am also passionate about trying to be a good and inspiring teacher -- one of my central roles at University College Groningen (UCG). See here for some personal information about me on the UCG website.
University College Groningen
NL-9718 BG Groningen
Faculty of Philosophy
Oude Boteringestraat 52
NL-9712 GL Groningen