P1: Conditionals and Information Transfer
Wolfgang Spohn, P.I., Speaker

Bild von Wolfgang Spohn

Wolfgang Spohn holds a chair for Philosophy and Philosophy of Science at the University of Konstanz since 1996. His interests are epistemology and philosophy of science, philosophy of mind and language, metaphysics and ontology, philosophical logics, and decision and game theory.

Eric Raidl

Eric Raidl is a postdoctoral fellow in the “What if ?” unit. After studying mathematical logics, he completed his PhD in philosophy (University Panthéon Sorbonne) with a dissertation on probabilistic revision theory. His current interests are in formal epistemology, reasoning and logic, philosophy of science and more recently game and decision theory.

P2: Semantics and Pragmatics of Conditionals: from Sentence to Discourse
Maribel Romero, P.I.

Photo Maribel Romero

Maribel Romero is  Professor at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Konstanz. Her research areas are formal semantics (questions, intensionality, degrees), the pragmatics-semantics interface (epistemic bias) and the syntax-semantics interface (quantification, ellipsis). Her project in the research unit “What if?” investigates the compositional semantics and pragmatic implicatures of counterfactual conditionals.

Eva Csipak
David Krassnig
P3: Imagination and Counterfactual Knowledge
Tobias Rosefeldt, P.I.

Bild von Tobias Rosefeldt

Tobias Rosefeldt is Professor of Classical German Philosophy at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Historically, his interests are focused on Kant’s theoretical philosophy (esp. self-consciousness, transcendental idealism), early modern philosophy (esp. Descartes), early German Idealism. Systematically, he is interested in philosophy of language, metaphysics (esp. existence and existence claims) and meta-metaphysics.

Daniel Dohrn

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Daniel Dohrn is a research fellow at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He completed his Ph.D. with a dissertation on Kant in 2001 and his habilitation on Descartes in 2006. Currently, his main interests are the metaphysics and epistemology of the modalities.

P5: Simulation and Counterfactual Reasoning in Neuroscience
Marcel Weber, P.I.

Bild von Marcel Weber

Marcel Weber holds a chair for the philosophy of science at Université de Genève. His areas of interest are philosophy of biology, general philosophy of science, epistemology and philosophy of mind.

Michal Hladky

Michal Hladky is a Ph.D. student at the department of philosophy of the University of Geneva. His domain of interests includes philosophy of science, epistemology, logic and philosophy of language.

P6: Modelling Counterfactual History in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia
Riccardo Nicolosi, P.I.

Bild von Riccardo Nicolosi

Riccardo Nicolosi is Professor of Slavic Literatures at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. His main research interests are focused on Russian and South Slavic Literatures and Cultures, Literature and Science, Rhetoric. His project in the research unit “What If?” explores the connection between scientific thought experiments and literary fiction.

Brigitte Obermayr

Brigitte Obermayr obtained her PhD from the University of Salzburg in Slavic Literature in 2002. From 2003-2015 she worked at Berlin Freie Universitaet in the interdiciplinary research project “Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits”. In the “What if” project she explores counterfactual narrative in historical narration in Russian literature in the 20th century, focussing on modes of fictionality. Her current book-project is titled “Date-art. Experiencing time between fictionality and factuality.”

P7: Alternatives for the Future: On the Role of Real Possibilities and Historical Conditionals for Acting and Hypothetical and Counterfactual Thinking
Thomas Müller, P.I.

Photo Thomas Müller

Thomas Müller joined the department of philosophy at  the University of Konstanz as a professor of theoretical philosophy in 2013. His main research areas are metaphysics, logic and philosophy of science. Currently his research focuses on modality, especially on the role of possibilities in the sciences and in the agency/free will debate.

Antje Rumberg

Picture of Ante Rumberg 

Antje Rumberg is postdoctoral researcher in the ‘What If’ project. Her main research interests include the logic and metaphysics of historical and natural modalities.

P8: Conditionals and Discourse
María Biezma, P.I.

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María Biezma is a Junior Professor at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Konstanz. Her main research focus is on formal pragmatics and semantics. Her project in the “What if?” unit investigates the interaction between conventional meaning and discourse.

Sophie Egger

Mercator Fellowships

MF1: On the Acquisition of Counterfactual Reasoning and Ensuing Abilities
Eva Rafetseder

Eva Rafetseder joined the DFG Research Unit “What If?” in 2013 and is a Lecturer in Child Development at the University of Stirling, Scotland. She holds a PhD (University of Salzburg) in how counterfactual reasoning develops in children (specifically how it can be distinguished from other kinds of reasoning and how it is interlinked with complex counterfactual emotions, such as regret and relief). Recent projects have extended her research into the area of children’s understanding of normativity, theory of mind, perspective taking, scientific reasoning, and causality.

MF2: Instituting and Contesting Scientific Openness
Paul Ziche

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Paul Ziche holds a chair for the history of modern philosophy at Utrecht University, and is also affiliated with Utrecht’s “Descartes Centre for the history and philosophy of the sciences and humanities”. His research focuses again and again on issues concerning the relationship between philosophy and the (other) sciences in the period between the 18th century and today.

ZP: Scientific Coordination

Arno Goebel

Arno Goebel is scientific coordinator for the DFG Research Unit ‘What If?’. Furthermore, he is Ph.D. student at the University of Konstanz under the supervision of Wolfgang Spohn and María Biezma. He is working on the semantics and pragmatics of epistemic conditionals in dynamic and probabilistic frameworks. His research mainly focuses on questions in philosophy of language and formal epistemology.


Former project researchers

Julian Bauer

Foto Julian Bauer

Julian Bauer was scientific coordinator of the DFG Research Unit “What If?”. Prior to that he was a postdoctoral fellow in project P4 (2012-2015). His interests include History of Science, Intellectual History, Visual and Media Studies.

Felicitas Enders

Felicitas Enders obtained her MA degree from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and was a Ph.D student in the project P8 “Conditionals and Discourse”. She is working on German Optatives and is particularly interested in experimental pragmatics.

Florian Ernst

Florian Ernst was a Ph.D. student in project P4 (2012-2015). His main interests are the history of science and the history of knowledge (focusing on the time around 1900).

Natasha Grigorian

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Natasha Grigorian was a postdoctoral fellow at project P6 (2012-2015). To explore thought experiments in literary fiction, she is investigating responses to Thomas Malthus’s theory of population in Russian literature (19th and 20th centuries). In her wider research, Natasha Grigorian focuses on late 19th- and early 20th-century European literature and visual art, especially in Russia, France, and Germany.

Maximilian Huber

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Maximilian Huber was a research assistant at SNSF and Ph.D. student of Marcel Weber’s. He tries to gain a better understanding of biological modality and modalities, respectively.

Bernhard Kleeberg

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Bernhard Kleeberg is Professor of History of Science at the University of Erfurt. He was Juniorprofessor for the History of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Konstanz and Principal Investigator for P4 (2012-2015). His research focuses on the history of social psychology and the historical epistemology and praxeology of truth.

Brian Leahy

Bild von Brian Leahy

Brian Leahy completed his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Connecticut in 2009 with a concentration in linguistics. Since then he was a postdoctoral fellow in the “What If?” unit, working for project P2. His work is deeply interdisciplinary; he has published in linguistics and philosophy venues and collaborates with developmental psychologists.

Arthur Merin

Arthur Merin is a former member of P1 (2012-2015). He holds degrees in anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology from the Universities of Cambridge, Stuttgart, and Sussex. His systematic research interests include the theories of meaning, knowledge, and action, in particular algebraic, probabilistic, and decision-theoretic semantics; the mathematics of the emotions, of poetics and of rhetoric; the methodology of philosophy, of the economic and cognitive sciences, of engineering, and of architectural design.

Guillaume Schlaepfer

Bild von Guillaume Schlaepfer

Guillaume Schlaepfer is an FNS doctoral candidate in the department of philosophy, University of Geneva. He is interested in modal knowledge and the way in which thought experiments and scientific modeling relates to knowledge of possibility or plausibility of particular statements. His field of investigation is the philosophy of biology and he is particularly interested in evolutionary biology and population genetics.

Vera Shibanova

Vera Shibanova studied history, Slavic studies and cultural studies at the University of Konstanz. She is writing her Ph.D. thesis on the history of Soviet child studies (pedology) at LMU Munich and was Ph.D. student at P6. As a part of her project she investigates thought experiments in pedological works. Vera’s areas of interests are modern Russian and Soviet history, history of (social) sciences, literature and science, Russian formalism and gender studies.

Andreas Walker

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Andreas Walker was Ph.D. student of P2. His research interests include donkey sentences, counterfactuals and presuppositions.

Maria Wargin

Foto Maria Wargin

Maria Wargin is a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Bochum. Her main research interests are Kant’s theoretical philosophy, classical German philosophy, and the philosophy of science. As a former member of P6 she focused on counterfactual thinking in Russian historiography, especially in the historical sciences of the Soviet Union.


Margherita Arcangeli Regine Eckardt

Regine Eckardt is professor for German and General Linguistics at the University of Konstanz. Her main fields of research are formal semantics, pragmatics and historical linguistics. Currently she investigates the logical structure of conditionals in Middle High German texts of law. Regine Eckardt has held positions at Berlin (ZAS) and Göttingen before she came to Konstanz in 2015.

Manfred Kupffer

Foto Manfred Kupffer

Manfred Kupffer (PhD University of Konstanz) is a lecturer in linguistics and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt. He specialises in philosophy of language, metaphysics and philosophical logic, especially quantified modal logic.

Andrea Lailach-Hennrich

Andrea Lailach-Hennrich is a postdoctoral fellow at the Zukunftskolleg at the University of Konstanz. She works currently on a project titled “The Synthetic A priori”. Her main areas of research are Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology and Philosophy of Psychology both in a systematical and historical approach.

Sven Lauer

Foto Sven Lauer

Sven Lauer (Ph.D., Stanford 2013) is the director of the Emmy Noether project ‘What is it to ask a question? A formal pragmatic investigation of interrogative force’ at the University of Konstanz. His main research focus is in formal semantics and pragmatics, in particular in the study of clause typing, implicature, modality, tense and conditionals.

Doris Penka

Foto Doris Penka

Doris Penka is a Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg and the Department of Linguistics, University of Konstanz. Her research areas are formal semantics, formal pragmatics and the syntax/semantics-interface. She’s also interested in philosophy of language.

Ali Zolfagharian

Ali Zolfagharian is a PhD student at the University of Konstanz under the supervision of Wolfgang Spohn. His main research interest is formal epistemology. His current work focuses on formal representation of suspension of judgment.

Mark-Matthias Zymla

Mark-Matthias Zymla is a PhD student at the university of Konstanz. His research interests include Tense, Aspect and Mood and discourse modelling for computational pragmatics.


Brendan Balcerak Jackson

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Brendan Balcerak Jackson is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Miami. He was Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg, and co-director of the Emmy Noether research group “Understanding and the A Priori”, funded by the DFG and jointly hosted by the Zukunftskolleg and the Philosophy Department. His main areas of research are the philosophy of language, metaphysics, and epistemology, and he also has interests in the philosophy of mind, the history of analytic philosophy and logic. He has a strong background in linguistics, and much of his work is informed by research in generative syntax, semantics and pragmatics. He received his PhD from Cornell University in 2006.

Magdalena Balcerak Jackson

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Magdalena Balcerak Jackson is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at the University of Miami. She was Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg and at the Philosophy Department of the University of Konstanz. She works on a project on “Imagination and Reasoning” and co-directed the Emmy-Noether Research Group “Understanding and the A Priori”. Her main areas of research are epistemology, philosophy of mind and meta-philosophy, but she is also interested in philosophy of language and philosophy of science.

Michael De

Photo Michael De

Michael De was a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy at the University of Konstanz in the Ltd Indeterminism project. His research interests lie mainly in logic and metaphysics. He received his PhD from the University of St Andrews where he was a member of the Arché Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology.

Filippo Domaneschi


Filippo Domaneschi is a post-doc researcher and former associate of the “What If” unit. His works in formal and experimental semantics and pragmatics concern polar questions, presuppositions/implicatures and more.

Amaia Garcia-Odon

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Amaia Garcia-Odon completed her PhD at the University Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona) in 2012 with a thesis on presupposition projection and conditionalization. After that, she was granted a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship by the Basque Goverment (Spain). She was a postdoctoral associate of P2. Her research interests include the areas of Semantics/Pragmatics, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology and Metaphysics. Her current research investigates the context-sensitivity of counterfactuals.

Romy Jaster

Foto Romy Jaster

Romy Jaster was a PhD student at Humboldt University in Berlin and PhD fellow of the “What If” research unit. Her main research interest is the modality of abilities. She is also interested in epistemic contextualism and issues surrounding the notion of free will.

Thomas Kroedel

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Thomas Kroedel holds a chair for philosophy of science at the University of Hamburg. His research interests include epistemology,especially the epistemology of counterfactuals and modality, metaphysics, philosophy of mind and philosophy of science.

Julia Langkau

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Julia Langkau is a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy. Until 2012, she was a PhD student at the Arché Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology, University of St Andrews (Scotland). Her main research areas are epistemology, philosophical methodology and philosophy of mind. She is currently working on a project titled “Emotions and Fiction”.

Niels Skovgaard Olsen

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Niels Skovgaard Olsen submitted a Ph.D. dissertation in philosophy on conditionals and psychology of reasoning in July 2014, which had a strong interdisciplinary outline. He is working on a postdoc project on conditionals as part of “New Frameworks of Rationality” and is doing a second PhD in psychology at the university of Freiburg.

Frank Zenker

Frank Zenker is associate professor at the Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Lund University, Sweden, and currently researcher at Konstanz University and the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava. He works in social epistemology, cognitive science, and the philosophy of science.

Julia Zakkou Alexandra Zinke

Photo Alexandra Zinke

Alexandra Zinke was a postdoctoral fellow in philosophy at the University of Konstanz. Her main interests are philosophy of logic, philosophy of language, metaphysics and epistemology.