I am Dilthey-Fellow and principal investigator in the research group “A Study in Explanatory Power” (based at the University Duisburg-Essen and generously funded by the Volkswagen Foundation; Phase 1: 2012-2018; Phase 2:2018-2021). In the past years, I  taught in Basel (Visiting Lecturer) and Marburg (Acting Chair for Theoretical Philosophy). Before, I held a position as an Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at Ruhr-University Bochum. I spend time in Barcelona and Tilburg as a research fellow. I am interested in various topics in theoretical philosophy, but I mainly work on topics related to the philosophy of explanation and understanding. More information on the project “A Study in Explanatory Power” can be found here: philosophyofexplanation.wordpress.com. I am also coordinator of the network ” Social Functions”, funded by the German Research Foundation (https://socialfunctions.org).


Dr. Raphael van Riel

Dilthey Fellow, Principal Investigator

“A Study in Explanatory Power”

Universität Duisburg-Essen

Universitätsstraße 12

45141 Essen


Books/Special Issues:

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  • A.-M. Eder, I. Lawler, R. van Riel (eds.): Philosophical Methods. Special Issue: Synthese (in preparation).
  • M. Eronen, R. van Riel: Understanding Through Modeling. Special Issue: Synthese 2015.
  • R. van Riel, E. Di Nucci, J. Schildmann (eds.): Enhancement der Moral, Mentis 2015.
  • R. van Riel: The Concept of Reduction, Philosophical Studies Series, Springer 2014.
  • R. van Riel, A. Newen: Reductionism in the Philosophy of Mind Special Issue: Philosophia Naturalis, 2010/2011.
  • A. Newen, R. van Riel, Identity, Language and Mind. Introduction to the Philosophy of John Perry CSLI Publishing/Mentis 2012.

Some recent papers:

(here is a complete list)

In print:

  • ‘Emergenz und Reduktion’, in: Schrenk, M. (ed.) Handbuch Metaphysik, Metzler. (in German)
  • ‘Leibniz on Freedom, Foreknowledge, and Necessitation Without Dependence’, in: Studia Leibnitiana (accepted)


  • ‘Enhancing beyond what ought to be the case’, Bioethics, 30, 384-388.
  • ‘Mental Disorder and the Indirect Construction of Social Facts’, Journal of Social Ontology. Doi: 10.1515/jso-2016-0008
  • ‘If you understand, you won’t be lucky’, Grazer Philosophische Studien, 93, 196-211.
  • ‘What is Constructionism in Psychiatry? From Social Causes to Psychiatric Classification’, Frontiers in PsychiatryDOI:  10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00057
  • ‘Real Knowledge-Undermining Luck’, Logos and Episteme 7 (3).
  • ‘What is the Problem of Explanation and Modeling?’, Acta Analytica, Doi:10.1007/s12136-016-0307-y.


  • ‘The Content of Model-Based Information’, Synthese 192, 3839-3858.


  • Reuter, K., Kirfel, L., van Riel, R. Barlassina, L.: ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Timely: How Temporal Order and Moral Judgement Influence Causal Selection’, Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01336.
  • (with R. N. Van Gulick) ‘Scientific Reduction’, in: E. Zalta (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2014.
  • ‘Prophets Against Ockhamism’, International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 75, 119-135.
  • ‘The Nature of Types and Tokens: On the Metaphysical Commitments of Non-Reductive Physicalism’, Metaphysica 2014,  DOI: 10.1515/mp-2014-0014.
  • ‘McDowell’s Frege’, in:Lauer & Barth (eds.) Die Philosophie John McDowells, Mentis, 2014, 203-222.


  • ‘Identity, Asymmetry, and the Relevance of Meanings for Models of Reduction’, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, doi: 10.1093/bjps/ axs028.
  • ‘Pains, Pills, and Properties. Functionalism and the First-Order/Second- Order Distinction’, Dialectica 66, 543-562.


  • ‘Nagelian Reduction beyond the Nagel Model’, Philosophy of Science, 78/3, 353-375.
  • ‘Cognitive Significance and Epistemic Intensions’, Logique et Analyse 54.