Research

“Our magical safeguard against the uncertain character of the world is to deny the existence of chance, to mumble universal and necessary law, the ubiquity of cause and effect, the uniformity of nature, universal progress, and the inherent rationality of the universe … Through science, we have secured a degree of power, of prediction and of control; through tools, machinery and an accompanying technique, we have made the world more comfortable to our needs, a more secure abode … But when all is said and done, the fundamentally hazardous character of the world is not seriously modified, much less eliminated.” (John Dewey)

Main research interests

Applied ethics

  • Digitalization and artificial intelligence
  • Civil security and public security provision
  • Philosophy of Technology
  • Technology Assessment
  • Reconstructive ethics
  • Scientific policy advice

Political theory

  • Theory of democracy
  • Liberalism
  • Power and violence
  • Mechanisms of surveillance and control
  • Plurality and governance

Epistemology

  • Classical American Pragmatism
  • Hermeneutics
  • Phenomenology
  • Meta-ethics
  • Pluralist ethics

Involvement in international research projects

Philosophy in the Age of New Wars

Freiburg – Penn State Collaboration Development Program 2018 (ongoing)

As many military historians and theorists of conflict have recently argued, we have been witnessing a transformation in the history of warfare over the past 20 years under the heading of the ‘New Wars’. Advances in robotic and drone technology, cyber-warfare, and the sprawling fragmentation of conflict have substantially altered both how we think about war and how war is pursued. We want to address the philosophical implications of this phenomenon of the ‘New Wars’: How have transformations in warfare, technology, and the culture of war changed philosophical thinking? How might philosophical thinking come to terms with such transformations?

The aim of this 12-month collaboration between the philosophy departments at the Penn State University and the University of Freiburg is to explore these questions through an approach combining various philosophical methods of analysis and argumentation in conjunction with an interdisciplinary outreach to other related fields of study (e.g. history, cultural studies, security studies). The aim of this project to develop a novel field of philosophical research by drawing on and challenging established frameworks for the conceptualization of warfare, violence, and the human condition.

  • Roles: 3 week research collaboration stay at Penn State,
    involved in acquisition process
    (Freiburg Lead: Prof. Dr. Hans-Helmuth Gander)
  • Project website

TRESSPASS

robusT Risk basEd Screening and alert System for PASSengers and luggage (ongoing)

The goal of TRESSPASS is to develop, demonstrate and validate a single cohesive risk-based border management concept for air, maritime and land border crossing points. It follows an ethics and data protection “by design” approach.

The 42-month EU H2020 innovation action project will address border control tasks at regular border crossing points, such as customs and smuggling prevention, immigration control, police searches for suspects, as well as cross border crime and terrorism prevention. Under a newly developed single cohesive concept, related threats will be managed as risks tailored to the specific situational needs of individual border crossing points.
TRESSPASS does not address border crossings outside of regular border crossing points (e.g. by boat). Threats posed by state-actors are out of scope, as well.

Building on previous ethical research as part of the project XP-DITE, the role of the University of Freiburg’s Centre for Security and Society is to provide the basis and input needed to address ethical, legal and societal aspects from the start and throughout the design and development process, with a special focus on data protection needs. Furthermore, Freiburg also leads the tasks related to accompanying research ethics.

  • EU Emblem
    EU Horizon 2020

    Roles: Freiburg Lead Researcher, Work Package Leader;
    Independently acquired third party funds

  • Project website
  • CSS website

SERIOR

Graduate Academy “Security – Risk – Orientation” (ongoing)

The Eucor universities, including the University of Freiburg, and the University of Koblenz and Landau, and further project partners intend to establish a tri-national graduate academy on the topic of risk management and risk appraisal. A joint qualification program for junior researchers and a knowledge transfer program with businesses and political organizations will open up new research potential on the Upper Rhine.

My main task within this EU Interreg funded project is to coordinate the different contributions from the University of Freiburg and to develop tools and concepts that facilitate establishing the tri-national graduate academy for PhD-students in Philosophy.

 XP-DITE

Accelerated Checkpoint Design, Integration, Test and Evaluation (completed)

The aim of XP-DITE is to develop, demonstrate, and validate a comprehensive approach to the design and evaluation of checkpoints. This approach will balance the main aspects of performance: security provision, ethical compliance, operational cost and passenger satisfaction. Furthermore, the approach will overcome current security regulations’ focus on equipment components and specific screening procedures within an airport checkpoint. Instead, XP-DITE’s balanced approach will allow for the evaluation of an airport checkpoint as a whole.

My main task within this project is to develop a framework for the identification and evaluation of ethical and societal risks of airport screening. The main research focus is on aspects of privacy and fundamental rights, as well as on societal acceptability and acceptance. As part of XP-DITE’s balanced approach, this framework will allow for ethical and societal considerations to guide the design process of airport checkpoints from the very beginning.

Within the project consortium, I act as a work package leader and am responsible for financial and administrative management with respect to the University of Freiburg’s participation in this EU funded FP7-project.

TeraSCREEN

Multi-frequency multi-mode Terahertz screening for border checks (completed)

TeraSCREEN develops an innovative concept of multi-frequency multi-mode Terahertz (THz) detection with new automatic detection and classification functionalities. The system developed demonstrates, at a live control point,
the safe automatic detection and classification of objects concealed under clothing, whilst respecting privacy and increasing current throughput rates. This innovative screening system combines multi-frequency images taken by passive and active imagers which scan the subjects and obtain complementary information, thus allowing for automatic threat recognition.

My main task is within the project is to accompany the system integration and pilot test to ensure compliance with research ethical standards. Within the project consortium, I act as a work package leader and am responsible for financial and administrative management with respect to the University of Freiburg’s participation in this EU funded FP7-project.

SURVEILLE

Surveillance: Ethical Issues, Legal Limitations, and Efficiency (completed)

SURVEILLE has four main objectives: (1.) To provide a comprehensive survey of the types of surveillance technology deployed in Europe. (2.) To assess the benefits and costs of surveillance technology. (3.) To identify, elaborate and assess the whole range of legal and ethical issues raised by the use of surveillance technology (4.) To communicate continuously the results of the research.

From May to August 2012, as part of Freiburg’s initial research team, my main task within this EU FP-7 funded project was to review common models used for risk and threat assessment and develop ways to use them for considering ethically relevant implications for societal openness.