Maria Kronfeldner

MA Director
MA Director

Contact information

Vienna, Quellenstrasse 51 | D406

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 related to our MA Program, 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 come to my office hours.

OFFICE HOURS (for consultations independent of class meetings and MA program related matters):

  • Zero Week Office Hours: Monday, September 13, 14:00-18:00, on campus or online; First Week Office Hour: September 23, 14:00-18:00 on campus or online. 
  • Regular Office Hours for fall 2021, starting with September 29: Mon 15:00-17:30; Wed 14:00-15:30 (for the time being: Monday's default online (till everyone has arrived in Vienna); Wednesday's default on campus). In both cases: please register with an email briefly stating your concern; drop-in is possible on Wednesdays. If none of the above slots work for you, just write and we will find an alternative time. 

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

Courses taught by Maria Kronfeldner

Events with involvement of Maria Kronfeldner

Book Launch: The Routledge Handbook of Dehumanization
March 23, 2021 - 4:30pm
The Self and the Foreign
May 14, 2020 - 4:00pm
Scientific Progress and the Search for Truth
October 22, 2019 - 4:00pm
Philosophy and/of Inclusion
May 3, 2019 - 7:00am
MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) lunchtime discussion with Jennifer Saul
March 5, 2019 - 11:30am
Panel Discussion: What history and sociology of science show about how to think about sciences
November 28, 2018 - 4:30pm
Who is afraid of values? Value-fact entanglements in scientific research – lessons from two case studies
July 9, 2018 - 1:00pm
Who is afraid of values? Value-fact entanglements in scientific research – lessons from two case studies.
July 9, 2018 - 1:00pm
Journalism and Politics in the Age of Misinformation - World Press Freedom Day at CEU
May 3, 2017 - 12:30pm
ToPHSS Lecture: Celebrating Biodeconstruction
March 7, 2017 - 12:30pm
ToPHSS Lecture: Why Race is Still Socially Constructed
February 28, 2017 - 12:30pm
CEU MAP (Minorities and Philosophy) meeting with Rebekka Hufendiek
February 22, 2017 - 4:30pm
ToPHSS Lecture: The Essentialist Fallacy: Critical Theory and Naturalism
February 21, 2017 - 12:30pm
ToPHSS Lecture: The Categorized and the Categorical Human in Human Rights
February 7, 2017 - 12:30pm
Dehumanization as Monstrification
January 31, 2017 - 4:30pm
ToPHSS Workshop on dehumanization
January 31, 2017 - 12:30pm
ToPHSS Lecture: Between Science and Show: Human Zoos in the 19th and 20th Centuries
January 24, 2017 - 2:30pm
ToPHSS Lecture: Humanization and Dehumanization within Enlightenment Debates: An Attempt to Contextualizing the Ape/Human Divide.
January 24, 2017 - 12:30pm
9th In-house Graduate Philosophy Conference
November 4, 2016 - 8:00am
Dehumanization: New approaches to understanding the politics of human nature
April 6, 2016 - 11:00am
ToPHSS Lectures on Science and the Value-Free Ideal - Heather Douglas (University of Waterloo)
March 30, 2016 - 3:30pm
ToPHSS Lectures on Science and the Value-Free Ideal - Julie Zahle (University of Copenhagen)
March 29, 2016 - 11:30am
Scientific Pluralism & Epistemic Relativism Workshop
February 19, 2016 - 1:00pm
ToPHSS Film Screening: "Secrecy," a documentary film by Peter Galison and Robb Moss
February 17, 2016 - 6:00pm
ToPHSS Lecture: Whose blood, which genes? Narratives and sampling strategies in Roma-related genetic research
February 2, 2016 - 12:30pm
ToPHSS Lecture: What is at stake in the ‘epigenetic revolution’?
January 19, 2016 - 12:30pm

Projects with involvement of Maria Kronfeldner