Dr. Matthias Unterhuber

Integrated Logic and Philosophy of Science

Postal Address
Graduate School of the Humanities
Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies
Walter Benjamin Kolleg
Universität Bern
Muesmattstrasse 45
CH-3012 Bern

Matthias Unterhuber | FT 2016

Matthias Unterhuber focuses on philosophy of science and logic. He has been awarded 2011 with the doctoral degree in philosophy of science (University of Düsseldorf) and holds two combined bachelor and master's degrees, one in philosophy (University of Salzburg) and one in psychology (University of Salzburg). Since then he held fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Munich, and the University of Bern in addition to being a member of research groups by the DFG and the ESF.

Research Project

Project SciGen – Generics-Based Generalizations in the Sciences and Stereotypes

The project SciGen aims at a better understanding of generics-based generalizations in the sciences and contrasts them with stereotyped generalizations in nationalistic and racist discourses – a point that seems increasingly important given the rise of such discourses of recent years. Whereas generalizations as expressed by generics, such as "mammals give live birth" and "birds fly", are ubiquitous in all domains of human life, their semantics is not well understood. In particular, the recent debate in linguistics and philosophy of language casts doubt on whether such generics-based generalizations have meaning at all or whether they are nothing but heuristics that differ from stereotypes only in being more useful in guiding our actions. SciGen addresses this issue by pursuing the following two questions:

1. In which way do the sciences support generics-based generalizations?

2. In which way do generics-based generalizations supported by the sciences differ from such generalizations in nationalistic and racist discourses?

SciGen addresses questions one and two in interdisciplinary collaboration with biologists on the one hand and epidemiologists and experts on the rhetoric of nationalistic and racist discourses on the other. The contrast between generalizations in epidemiology and the above discourses is particularly fruitful; least of all due to the fact generalizations from epidemiology seem particularly troublesome in the linguistics and philosophy of language literature.

Research Foci

Normality and Exceptionality | Generalizations in the Sciences | Logic and Philosophy of Conditionals