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Prof. dr.Hillerbrand, R. (Rafaela)

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Faculty: Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science

Visiting address

Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS) Postfach 3640 76021 Karlsruhe


+49 721 608-26450


Academic Vita

Since March 2015, Rafaela works as an full professor of Ethics of Technology and Philosophy of Science at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie. She is also the head of the KIT Academy for Responsible Research, Teaching, and Innovation (ARRTI) and the head of the research group Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science (PhilETAS).

Her fields of work are:

  • Philosophy of technology and science, philosophy of engineering sciences
  • Ethics of technology and the environment, especially ethical aspects of energy supply and use (electricity, mobility, heat), sustainability
  • Epistemic and ethical aspects of risks and uncertainties
  • Computer simulations and AI

Between November 2012 and March 2015 , Rafaela works as an associate professor in the field of philosophy of engineering and philosophy of science at the TU Delft. Her research is at the interface between engineering/science and philosophy, focusing on various aspects of ethics of technology (with a particular focus on the various aspects of energy supply and demand) and epistemology, in particularly the reliability of models in science and engineering. The great unifying theme behind her research is the quest for the prospect and limits of quantitative approaches in the sciences and how (ethical or political) decision making can deal with non-quantified information.

Before joining Delft, Rafaela held a Juniorprofessur RWTH Aachen University where she was  head of the interdisciplinary research group eet-ethics for energy technology at the Human Technology Centre (HumTec), a project of the German Initiative for Excellence from 2008-2012. In 2011, she advised the ethics commission for safe energy supply (Ethikkomission für Sichere Energieversorgung) under Klaus Töpfer´s guidance. Subsequent to the accident in Fukushima Rafaela also gave advice and support to policy makers in Austria and Switzerland on the change of energy supply.

From 2006 till 2008 Rafaela worked as a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford with a focus on epistemological and ethical problems for decisions under risk and uncertainty.

From 1995 till 2001, Rafaela studied physics (Diplom) and philosophy (Magister) in Erlangen, Germany. During that time, she spent two terms studying mathematics and physics at the University of Liverpool and two extend research visits at the Joint European Torus, the predecessor project of ITER, at Culham. She holds a PhD both in philosophy as well as in theoretical physics. For her PhD in philosophy on ethics of technology she won the Lilli-Bechmann-Rahn-Preis of the University Erlangen Nürnberg in 2005. Rafaela’s doctoral dissertation in theoretical physics was awarded the Ingrid-zu-Solms Naturwissenschaftspreis 2008. Since 2009 Rafaela is an elected member of the German Young Academy of Sciences (Junge Akademie) and was spokesperson of this institution in 2010/2011.

Research Interests

  • philosophy of science, engineering and technology
  • applied ethics (esp. ethics of the environment, technology assessment)
  • risk and uncertainty analysis
  • philosophy of computer simulations

Honors & Awards (selection)

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