Tarja Knuuttila
20002024

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

Bio

Professor Tarja Knuuttila is a philosopher of science studying scientific modeling, representation, and interdisciplinary relations between different scientific disciplines. As part of her philosophical work, she has developed an artifactual account of scientific modeling that contributes to our understanding of what makes models epistemically fruitful. Although the philosophical questions Professor Knuuttila is interested in are general, her approach is geared towards contemporary science, and is practice-oriented. In particular, she combines philosophical analysis with historical and empirical case studies, often in collaboration with scientists or scholars from the history and sociology of science. In addition to synthetic biology and economics, Professor Knuuttila has been working on language technology and on the engineering sciences more generally, as well as on the commercialization of scientific research.

 

Research Interests 

 

  • General philosophy of science,
  • Representation,
  • Scientific modeling,
  • Philosophy of systems and synthetic biology,
  • Methodology of Economics,
  • Artifactual and modal perspectives on modeling.

 

Professional Experience

 

2018  present   

Professor of Philosophy of Science, University of Vienna

2015  2020   

Research Fellow, Academy of Finland

2013  2018   

Associate professor (tenured), University of South Carolina

2011  2014   

Fellow, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki

2010  2011   

Researcher, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki

2010 

Title of Docent (Habilitation), Theoretical Philosophy, University of Helsinki

2009  2010   

Research associate, California Institute of Technology

2007 – 2009   

Postdoctoral researcher, Academy of Finland, Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki

2006 

Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Social and Moral Philosophy, University of Helsinki

Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki

2005 

Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, Theoretical Philosophy, Univ of Helsinki

Thesis Title: Models as Epistemic Artefacts:Towards a Non-Representationalist Account of Scientific Representation

2001 

Master of Social Sciences, M.Soc.Sc., Social and Moral Philosophy, University of Helsinki

1999  2004     

Researcher, Center for Activity Theory and Dev. Work Research, Univ of Helsinki

1991 

Master of Economic Sciences, M.Sc. (Econ.), Economics, Helsinki School of Economics

1984  1998   

Non-academic posts and positions (Bank of Finland, State Guarantee Fund Finland, business administration, book keeping and auditing in various organisations).

 

Projects (PI):

 

1.12.2022 – 30.8.2025 (co-PI)

Pushing the Boundaries: Agency, Evolution and the Dynamic Emergence of Expanding Possibilities. John Templeton Foundation Grant (€ 1,328,539). 

1.6.2019  31.5.2024

Possible Life: The Philosophical Significance of Extending Biology (LIFEMODE). ERC Consolidator Grant (€ 1,999,566).

1.1.2019 – 31.12.2022 (co-PI)

Towards a Methodology of Modal Modeling (co-PI). Swedish Research Council (SEK 5,551,220)

1.9.2015 – 31.8.2020

Understanding by Engineering: Modeling, Experimentation and Engineering in the Emerging Field of Synthetic Biology. Academy of Finland, Research Fellowship (€ 434.485).

1.9.2013  31.8.2017

Biological Knowledge through Modeling and Engineering (SYNBIOMODE) (€ 566,465). Academy of Finland, Research Programme on Synthetic Biology (FinSynBio).

1.1.2007  31.12.2009

Models and Modelling: A Philosophical Study of the Role and Significance of Models and Computer Simulations in Scientific Inquiry. (€ 201,600) Postdoctoral researcher’s project funded by the Academy of Finland.

1.8.2006 – 30.04.2008

KULTA – Modeling the changing consumer needs (€ 100,000) (Project leader, Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki). MASI-programme funded by TEKES – The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. The consortium included the Laboratory of Computer and Information Science (Helsinki University of Technology) and the National Consumer Research Center.

 

Journal Editing Roles

 

Editor-in-Chief:

  • Science & Technology Studies (EASST, Official journal of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology) (Editor-in-Chief: 1.1.2007 – 30.6.2010, Member of the Editorial Board 1.7.2010 - present)

 

Referee (Journals):

  • British Journal for the Philosophy of Science,
  • Erkenntnis,
  • European Journal for Philosophy of Science
  • History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
  • International Studies in the Philosophy of Science,
  • Journal of Economic Methodology,
  • Neural Networks,
  • Outlines: Critical Social Studies.
  • Philosophical Studies,
  • Philosophy of Science,
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences,
  • Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences,
  • Studies in History and Philosophy of Science,
  • Synthese.

 

Referee (Books):

  • Cambridge University Press

 

Referee (Grants):

  • Swiss National Science Foundation,
  • The Finnish Cultural Foundation.

 

Administrative Roles

 

Member of the executive board:

  • Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki (2013-2014)
  • The National Committee on Philosophy of Science in Finland (2011 - 2014)
  • The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies (2007 - 2010)
  • The Semiotic Society of Finland (2001 - 2009)

 

Auditor:

  • The Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies (2001 – 2006)
  • The Semiotic Society of Finland (1998 - 2000)

 

Service at the department:

Department of Philosophy, University of South Carolina: 

  • Job search committee for assistant professor (2014)
  • Graduate Studies Committee (2014 – 2017)
  • Undergraduate Studies Committee (2017 – 2018)

 

Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki:

  • Management group, deputy member (2007 – 2009)
  • Member of the group for developing teaching and supervision (2008 – 2009)

 

 

Memberships

 

  • Academia Europaea
  • Philosophy of Science Association
  • European Philosophy of Science Association
  • British Society for the Philosophy of Science
  • Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice

 

Collaborations

 

Collaborations at University of Vienna:

 

2022 >

Planned interdisciplinary series of meetings between philosophers and biologists (postponed due to pandemic) on philosophical issues related to biological sciences with Mihaela Pavlicev, Department of Evolutionary Biology

 

2021 >

Co-authoring paper on modelling in science education with Marvin Rost, Austrian Educational Competence Centre Chemistry

 

2020 >

Organising symposium on animal modelling with Alan S. Ross, Department of Education

 

2019 >

Co-authored articles, John Templeton Foundation application, FWF project application, Modelling Complex Systems, with Johannes Jäger, Department of Development Studies

 

Collaborations with other institutions and universities in Austria: 

 

2022 >

Planned seminar on philosophy of science with Julian Reiss, Johannes Kepler University, Linz

 

2021 >

FWF project application, Modelling Complex Systems with:

-Stefan Thurner, Complexity Science Hub, Vienna, Science of Complex Systems, Medical University of Vienna

-Bernat Corominas Murtra, Institute of Biology, Karl-Franzens University Graz

-Rudolph Hanel, Science of Complex Systems, Medical University of Vienna

 

International Collaborations:

 

2022 >

Research collaboration on model transfer and computational methods with Catherine Herfeld, Institute of Philosophy, University of Zurich

 

2021 >

Discussion group on methodology of economics with:

- Marcel Boumans, History of Economics, Utrecht University

- Krzysztof Nowak-Posadzy, Philosophical Faculty, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

- Jarosław Boruszewski, Philosophical Faculty, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

Co-authoring articles on modelling biological systems with:

- Michael Stumpf, Theoretical Systems Biology Group, University of Melbourne

- Léo Diaz, Theoretical Systems Biology Group, University of Melbourne

Symposium and publications on idealization with Alejandro Cassini, Department of Philosophy, University of Buenos Aires

 

2020 >

Project application, book project on philosophy of biology with Marcel Weber, Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva

 

2019 >

Co-editing the book, Modal Modeling, with Ylwa Sjölin-Wirling, Philosophy and Philology Unit, University of Gothenburg

Co-organized symposium, ongoing collaboration on nerve signal research with Henk de Regt, Institute for Science in Society, Radboud University, NL

 

2018 >

Co-PI on project “Towards of Methodology of Modal Modelling in Science,” funded by the Swedish Research Council 2019-2022 and other collaborations on modelling possibilities with Till Gruene Yanoff, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Online workshop, special issue on model transfer with Chia-Hua Lin, Department of Economics, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

 

2016-2017

Co-authoring on genetic networks with Vivette García Deister, S&TS laboratory

National Autonomous University of Mexico

 

2016 >

Co-authoring on modelling and representation with Francesca Pero, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence

Research collaboration, planned symposium on artefacts with Sergio Martínez Muñoz, Institute of Philosophy, National Autonomous University of Mexico

 

2015 >

Workshops, co-authoring on modelling and representation with Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence

 

2013-2019

Research collaboration in FinSynBio programme (Academy of Finland) with Merja Penttilä, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

 

2013 >

Research collaboration, symposium, special issue on scientific modelling and knowledge transfer with Paul Humphreys, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia

Co-authoring, research collaboration on scientific modelling with Mary S. Morgan, Department of Economic History, London School of Economics

Research collaboration on special issues (2011, 2013), symposium, and discussion group on scientific modelling, synthetic biology with Axel Gelfert, Institut für Philosophie, Literatur-, Wissenschafts- & Technikgeschichte, TU Berlin

Symposia on synthetic biology in Darmstadt, symposium on fictions in science at PSA 2016 conference, book project with Alfred Nordmann, Institute of Philosophy, TU Darmstadt

 

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Theoretical Philosophy, Habilitation , University of Helsinki

Award Date: 16 Feb 2010

Theoretical Philosophy, Ph.D., Models as Epistemic Artefacts: Towards a Non-Representationalist Account of Scientific Representation , University of Helsinki

Award Date: 20 Dec 2005

Social and Moral Philosophy, M.Soc.Sc., University of Helsinki

Award Date: 19 Nov 2001

Economics, M.Sc. Econ. , University of Helsinki

Award Date: 15 Feb 1991

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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