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Here, you find an overview of all research projects run by Prof. Schrenk and his team or projects where they participate as members.

Is Proprioceptive Art Possible?

Many works of art are predominantly visual or auditory in nature (e.g. drawing, painting, photography or music). Mixed forms are also common (e.g. opera, theatre, dance). The so-called chemical senses (smelling/tasting) are hardly ever addressed and only some works of art (happenings, fluxus, certain performances) involve the audience’s own physicality and might thereby also – together with vision and audition – intentionally provoke the recipients’ perception of their own body, i.e., their proprioception.

This project poses the radical question whether there could be artworks that are essentially proprioceptive in nature, i.e. that have the perception of one’s own body’s movement and position in space, balance, muscle tension, stretching, pain, temperature, energy and stress levels, etc., at their core (while paying less attention the other senses). In addition to theoretical considerations which show the plausibility of a positive answer, potential examples for this art form will be given.

The kickoff workshop is kindly funded by the German Research Council (DFG) and the Society for Analytic Philosophy (GAP).


DFG Research Group Inductive Metaphysics; Project A2: Creative Abductive Inference and Its Role for Inductive Metaphysics in Comparison to Other Metaphysical Methods (Phase 2)

This project A2 "Creative Abductive Inference and Its Role for Inductive Metaphysics" continues the work of project A2 in the first phase, exploring creative abduction (CA) as method of inductive metaphysics (IM) based on a selection of metaphysical questions and on the case studies in the B projects.The project consists of two parts.

In the first part, A2.1, the reach of the abductive methodology in metaphysics is tested along the lines of the concepts of nomological necessity and possibility, that play a role in al-most all domains of metaphysical explanations. A2.1 investigates whether and to what extent these notions or variants of them (e.g., lawlikeness versus fundamental lawhood, physical versus metaphysical necessity) can themselves be justified by abductive inferences meeting the rationality criteria for scientific abduction, unification and independent testability, in order to yield a notion of necessity that fits the practice of natural science. Particular attention is given to the role of independent evidence for nomological possibility based on assumptions about freedom. Finally, we will systematically investigate the different kinds of explanation employed in the abductive inferencesin IM; this latter work package will be undertaken together with A2.2.

In the second part, A2.2, it will be investigated how abductive methods that find fruitful application in the sciences but that have not yet been explored by our project in the first phase can be applied to metaphysics. In particular, the role model-building can play in metaphysics conceived as an abductive enterprise will be critically examined. Second, we will examine the extent to which using abductive virtues such as simplicity in metaphysical theorizing can help to improve metaphysical theories by making them more robust and less error-fragile. Third, in light of our foregoing inquiry and together with A2.1, we will answer the question of how abductively inferred metaphysical theories explain. In particular, we explore whether and how grounding explanations can be accounted for within IM.


DFG Research Group Inductive Metaphysics; Project A2: Creative Abductive Inference and Its Role for Inductive Metaphysics in Comparison to Other Metaphysical Methods (Phase 1)

With Gerhard Schurz, Christian Feldbacher-Escamilla, und Siegfried Jaag. The aim of this project is to explore creative abductive inference (CAI) and inference to the best explanation (IBE) as methods of inductive metaphysics (IM). In the first part of the project (A2.1, Schurz), the general method is developed and its rationality in metaphysics is critically explored. Four criteria are investigated that have been suggested in the literature for the purpose of discriminating content- rich abductions from empty post-fact speculations: (i) analogy, (ii) unification, (iii) common cause abduction and (iv) independent testability. On the basis of selected metaphysical concepts (including the concept of external reality, natural necessity, causality and causal power) it is examined, jointly with A2.2 (Schrenk), to what extent selected metaphysical abductions from the metaphysical literature satisfy these criteria. This leads neatly to the second part, A2.2, of the project. Here, the purpose of the inquiry is threefold: (1) A2.2 examines and rebuts several potential criticisms of IM, specifically targeted at CAI and IBE and generally at IM. (2) Together with A2.1, it critically explores whether and to what extent CAI and IBE are already used in contemporary metaphysics. (3) It investigates the question how CAIs and IBEs compare to other methods in contemporary metaphysics, and whether some of these other methods fit within the programme of IM.


Former Research Projects

DFG Research Group: Causation, Laws, Dispositions, Explanation Phase II (2014-2016)

PI, with Professor Oliver R. Scholz (Münster): We critically assess the value and validity of modern scientifically minded metaphysics and research its historical development starting from logical empiricism’s skepticism onwards to its incarnation as today’s thriving field of metaphysics of science


Fellowship Award Durham Emergence Project (Templeton Foundation, 2014-2016)

With Dr. Juha Saatsi (PI, Leeds) and Dr. Alexander Reutlinger (Munich). We aim to understand how issues concerning strong emergence interact with prominent metaphysical conceptions of laws of nature. Our focused objective is to pin down the relationship between emergence and laws in a (broadly) Humean setting, esp. within the better best systems account (cf. Cohen&Callender 2009, Schrenk 2007, 2014).


Project funded by the HHU’s Strategic Research Fund:

Modality and the Resistance against Intentional Actions (Schrenk)
(12.2015 to 12.2016; with Professor Kann and Professor Schurz)

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