Martin Carrier#

Short laudatio by Jürgen Mittelstrass#

Martin Carrier (philosopher and physicist by training) is one of the leading scholars in philosophy, with international reputation, In 2008 he was awarded the Leibniz Prize, the highest award in the area of science and research in Germany. His special fields of research are: history of early modern physical theory, theory change (problems of methodological comparison and confirmation theory), conceptual relations among theoretical systems, space- time philosophy, and methodological problems of applied research, Regarding the history of early modern physical theory, Martin Carrier has worked on important historical figures from Copernicus to Newton (including the history of Newtonian chemistry in the l8°l` century). His work is never purely historical but comprises considerations of methodological standards that guide the development of scientific theory.

The same orientation, if with a different emphasis, characterizes Carrier’s work on theory change. His analyses of problems of confirmation and theory comparison are always informed by considering detailed case-studies from the history of science. This research field includes studies on scientific realism that examine which aspects of a theory are confirmed by empirical evidence. In this connection, Carrier advanced his "realism of kinds," that is a variant of structural realism.

Third, one of topical foci of Carrier’s work concerns the exploration of conceptual relations among theories. This work has ramified into three different areas, namely, the analysis (undertaken in cooperation with myself) of psychological and neuroscientific accounts, the suggestion of a consistent notion of semantic incommensurability, and the examination of options for testing theories by theory—laden evidence. The latter argument is explored in Carrier’s book on the completeness of scientific theories which contains analyses of ways of testing space-time theory in a non—circular manner by using evidence provided by the very same theory to be tested. Fourth, Carrier extended this work to questions of space—tirne philosophy. Among the relevant achievements is a clearer notion of the conventionality of physical geometry.

Martin Carrier now works on the methodology of applied research and addresses methodological changes imposed on science by the pressure of practice. Philosophy of science often focuses on the characteristics of fundamental research without taking into account that a large part of scientific research today is commissioned research, industrial research, or applied research, performed so as to accomplish short~term practical goals. In such instances, the aims of research do not grow out of the smooth development of a discipline but are shaped by non—scientific problems, and the relevant time—frames are narrow. Kinds of bias may emerge under such conditions that are lacking in basic research but merit closer philosophical scrutiny.

Martin Carrier is a very active member of the scientific community. He is co-director of a Masters Programme "History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science" in Bielefeld (since 2004) and co—director of a French-German Masters Programme "Wissenschaftsforschung/Etudes sur la science" (with Claude Debu, ENS Paris) sponsored by the French—Gerrnan University (since 2008). He was associate editor of International Studies in the Philosophy of Science (l996—200l), member of the Program Committee of the Vienna International Summer University (borne by the University of Vienna and the Institute Vienna Circle) (2000 — 2008), President of the Evaluation Committee for the Department of the Social Sciences and Humanities (D—GESS) at the ETH Zurich, November 20 — 24 (2006), and is member ofthe Selection Committee for Prizes and Awards of the Alexander-von Humboldt Foundation (since 2008).

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