Together with the `Great Relative' in Bern (photo: Isadora 'Nini' Hongler)
Together with the `Great Relative’ in Bern (photo: Isadora ‘Nini’ Hongler)

Bienvenue! My name is Niels Linnemann; I am a Philosopher of Physics at the University of Geneva where I work as a collaborateur scientifique in the group of Prof. Dr. Chris Wüthrich. My major interests lie in reasoning in physics (in particular in the context of theory construction), the ontology and epistemology of spacetime, and in the foundations of spacetime theories. Apart from this, I am interested in issues of theory construction and metaphysics of science more generally. (To skip the bio, and directly jump to my research, click here.)

I studied Physics, Mathematics and Philosophy at Münster (BSc Physics, BSc Mathematics), Lund, Oxford (MSt in Philosophy of Physics) and Cambridge (MASt in Advanced Mathematics/Part III). I became first interested in philosophy of physics after struggling with conceptual questions on the foundations of quantum mechanics (like so many) while still being a physics student in Münster.

My PhD thesis under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Christian Wüthrich (University of Geneva) focused on methodological strategies for finding a theory of quantum gravity — the search for such a theory being a technically difficult, and at the same time highly conceptual endeavour, plagued by a notorious lack of empirical data. By using quantum gravity as a case study, I was able to shed light on the general methodological and epistemological questions of (1) how theory construction is motivated non-empirically, and (2) what status various strategies of non-empirical theory construction have (including analogical reasoning, robustness arguments, and specific technical prescriptions such as quantisation). My research took place within the Swiss National Science Foundation project “New Avenues Beyond Spacetime“; Prof. Dr. Fabrice Correia, Prof. Dr. Richard Dawid, Prof. Dr. Fay Dowker and Prof. Dr. Nick Huggett served on my committee. See here for a visual (short) version of my thesis.

From January 2020 to January 2023 I worked and taught as Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in the group of Prof. Dr. Dr. Norman Sieroka. From September 2020 to February 2021, I was also a postdoc in the New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology Project research project at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy (London, Ontario), under the local lead of Prof. Dr. Chris Smeenk. Over the years, I have furthermore held long-term visiting fellowships at the Inductive Metaphysics Project (host institution: University of Bonn) and at the Centre for Philosophy and the Sciences at the University of Oslo. I was also a Young Academy Fellow at the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg from 2021 to 2023.

Since I was a PhD student, I have been trying to make the field of Philosophy of Physics more known in German-speaking countries through philosophiederphysik.de, an initiative co-founded with Kian Salimkhani in 2018. Nowadays, the team of philosophiederphysik.de not only organises weekend seminars and quarterly lectures but also provides career background information and study materials.

You can contact me via email (nielslinnemann AT aol.com).

Trying to visit a fellow philosopher in the Valais (photo: Vincent Lam)