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Johanna Seibt


Johanna Seibt
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Johanna Seibt specializes in the areas of analytical ontology and metaphysics; most recently she works in "robophilosophy", a new area of applied philosophy--"philosophy of, for, and by social robotics"-- which she and her colleagues at the "Research Unit for Robophilosophy" introduced in 2014. 

In analytical ontology she is known for having outlined the foundations of a new systematic process ontology, "General Process Theory" (GPT), envisaged as an alternative to Whitehead's process metaphysics.  She endorses Carnap's early insight that 'ontology'--structural descriptions of referential domains--can and should be metaphysically neutral.   GPT is derived from a detailed investigation of deep-seated methodological presuppositions of standard analytical ontology, which she call the "substance paradigm" or  "myth of substance".  The "myth of substance" goes far beyond postulating 'objects' or 'substances' as foundational entities, it introduces basic constraints on the solution space of ontological theory formation.  Indirectly these constraints also affect some of our formal theories, e.g., classical mereology.   GPT is an ontology that abandons  all of the presuppositions of the traditional substance paradigm and operates with a non-classical mereology (with an extensional but non-transitive part-relation). As she has argued in detailed studies, such an ontology has much better  prospects to accommodate the ontological commitments of both common sense and science.

She is also known as an interpreter of Sellars' philosophy. Her 1990 book on Sellars was the first comprehensive interpretations of Sellars' work in English; later she wrote a short introduction for students that was the first synoptic presentation of Sellars' work in German (2007).  Between 2008 and 2014 she worked on the philosophy of (intercultural) dialogue as well as applications of process-based conceptions of identity in the debate about social and ethnic identity.

Since 2012 her research interests turned to philosophy of social robotics, especially the ontology of human interactions with so-called 'social' robots, but also to the more comprehensive tasks of promoting a "pro-active turn" in the Humanities.  Current technological developments in AI and robotics call for a new role of Humanities researchers.  Humanities researcher are "experts in the analysis of human experience" and theoretical and practical responsibility requires that such expertise is integrated into the research and development process of technologies such as AI and social robotics. This is one of the core principles of the approach of "Integrative Social Robotics", which she and her colleagues are currently working out, supported by a Semper Ardens grant from the Carlsberg Foundation (involving 25 researchers from 11 disciplines from the Humanities, Social and Human Sciences, and Robotics)  and a grant by the Danish Research Council for Strategic Research. 

She is main organizer of the Robophilosophy Conference Series and co-organizer of the reesarch network for Transdisciplinary Studies in Social Robotics. She serves on a number of editorical and advisory boards and for many years has been co-editor of the DeGruyter book series Process Thought and Metaphysical Research.  

She teaches in the International MA Programme in Philosophy at Aarhus University.



Research Unit for Robophilosophy

Integrative Social Robotics


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