Project Members

Prof. Dr. Jens Harbecke

Team leader is Professor Jens Harbecke, philosopher of science with a special focus on neurosciences and economics, who has contributed substantial research on the so-called ‘mechanistic’ or ‘constitutive explanations’ approach in the philosophy of science that we deploy in our project.

Contact Information

Portrait von Professor Jens Harbecke
  • Department of Management and Economics
  • Department of Psychology
  • Professorship for Theoretical Philosophy and Philosophy of the Social Sciences Witten/Herdecke University
  • Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 5058448 Witten
  • Office: 1.221
+49 2302 / 926-511
+49 2302 / 926-516


Since October 2015:
Full Professur for Theoretical Philosophy, Department of Economics and Department of Psychology. Witten/Herdecke University.
October 2011 - September 2015:
Juniorprofessor for Philosophy of Science and Methodology of Economics, Witten/Herdecke University.
October 2013 - March 2014:
Visiting Scholar at the Department of Philosophy and the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program of Washington University St. Louis, USA.
April - September 2011:
Visiting Scholar at the Cognitive Science Department and the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation (today Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences) of the Hebrew University Jerusalem, Israel.
July 2008 - September 2010:
Assistant Professor (wissenschaftlicher Assistent) at the chair for Economics and Philosophy (Prof. Chrysostomos Mantzavinos), Department of Economics of Witten/Herdecke University.
August 2009 - March 2010:
Minerva Fellow at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv, Israel.
October 2007 - June 2008:
Assistant Professor (wissenschaftlicher Assistent) at the University of Bern, Switzerland.


October 2004 - September 2007:
PhD in Philosophy, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Supervisor: Prof. Michael Esfeld (Lausanne, CH); Co-Supervisors: Prof. David Papineau (London, UK), Prof. Albert Newen (Bochum, Germany). Thesis title: ‘Mental Causation – Investigating the mind’s powers in a natural world’.
September - December 2006:
Visiting Student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (MA), USA. Faculty Supervisor: Stephen Yablo (Department of Linguistics and Philosophy).
October 2005:
Master of Arts (Staatsexamen) in Music, State Academy of Music Cologne, Germany.
October 2004:
Master of Arts (Staatsexamen) in Philosophy, University of Cologne, Germany.
September 2003:
Master of Arts (MA) in Philosophy, King’s College London, UK.


February – April 2018:
Senior Research Fellow at the Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science Technology and Medicine, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
January 2016 - December 2018:
Project Coordinator of the Research Project 'The Integration of Cross-Disciplinary Research in Neuroscience and Social Science - a Methodological Study on Economic Policies and the Neurosciences of Agency', in cooperation with Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, Martina Piefke, Matthias Kettner (Witten/Herdecke, Germany), Mareike Kühne (Erfurt, Germany), Jaakko Kuorikoski, Samuli Pöyhönen, Teemu Toppinnen (Helsinki, Finland), Bernard Feltz, Markus Eronen, Olivier Sartenaer, Marcus Missal (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium); funded by the European Commission within the NEURON Initiative; Call: 'European Research Projects on Ethical, Legal, and Social Aspects of Neuroscience'.
October 2014 - September 2017:
Grant by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (in cooperation with Vera Hoffmann-Kolss, Köln, and Oron Shagrir, Jerusalem); project: ''Causation and Computation in Cognitive Neuroscience'
October 2013 - March 2014:
DFG-Postdoc-Fellowship (German Science Foundation) for Research Project 'The properties of mechanistic constitution' at Washington University St. Louis. Host: Prof. Carl Craver
DAAD-Postdoc-Fellowship for a research project at the Hebrew University Jerusalem.
2010 - 2011:
Fellowship of the Buber Society of Fellows, Jerusalem (elected but not taken up).
2009 - 2010:
Minerva Fellowship (Minerva Foundation, Munich Germany) for a research visit in Tel Aviv; Project: ‘Natural kinds in the special and the physical sciences’.
2004 - 2007:
Swiss National Fund (FNS); Research Project ‘Mental Causation and Reductionism’; grant no: 10011-105218/1.

Relevant Publications

  • Book: Harbecke, J. (2008). Mental Causation – Investigating the Mind’s Powers in a Natural World. Frankfurt (Main): Ontos.
  • Harbecke J. (2018) Constitutive Inference and the Problem of a Complete Variation of Factors. In: Christian A., Hommen D., Retzlaff N., Schurz G. (eds) Philosophy of Science. European Studies in Philosophy of Science, vol 9. Springer, Cham: 205-221
  • Harbecke, J (2016) “Is Mechanistic Constitution a Version of Material Constitution?”, in Kenneth Aizawa and Carl Gillett (eds.), Scientific Composition and Metaphysical Ground (pp. 91-121). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.
  • Harbecke, J. (2015). The Regularity Theory of Mechanistic Constitution and a Methodology for Constitutive Inference. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54: 10-19.
  • Harbecke, J. (2015). Regularity Constitution and the Location of Mechanistic Levels. Foundations of Science 20(3): 323-338. DOI: 10.1007/s10699-014-9371-1
  • Harbecke, J. (2014). Counterfactual Causation and Mental Causation. Philosophia 42(2): 363-385. DOI: 10.1007/s11406-013-9496-4
  • Harbecke, J. (2014). The Role of Supervenience and Constitution in Neuroscientific Research. Synthese 191(5):725-743. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-013-0308-y
  • Harbecke, J. (2013). On the Distinction Between Law Schemata and Causal Laws. Acta Analytica 28(4): 423-434.
  • Harbecke, J. and H. Atmanspacher (2012). Horizontal and Vertical Determination of Mental and Neural States. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 32(3): 161-179.
  • Harbecke, J. (2010). Mechanistic Constitution in Neurobiological Explanations. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24(3): 267-285.
  • Harbecke, J. (2010). The Problem of Mental Causation Formalized, Mind and Matter 8(1): 63-91.
Funded by: