New ERC Starting Grant at LUH

Press release from
Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen
© van Basshuysen
Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen is a newly appointed professor at the Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences.

Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen studies the influence of scientific models on reality.

On 1 February 2024, a new ERC Starting Grant will begin at Leibniz University Hannover (LUH). Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen has received the prestigious European Union funding to spend the coming five years researching how scientific models not only reflect the world but can also change it. His project MAPS – Managing Performative Science also develops strategies for dealing with this phenomenon in a better way.

The European Research Council awards Starting Grants of up to 1.5 million euros each to outstanding early-career researchers with excellent and visionary project ideas. The aim is to foster scientific independence by supporting the establishment of the scientist’s own research group. As of 1 February 2024, Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen is a professor of public health ethics at the Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences (CELLS) in the Faculty of Humanities. He will contribute to the LUH’s Interdisciplinary Studies of Science research area.

MAPS – Managing Performative Science

The background to the project is that scientific models often do not merely deliver predictions or explanations. Especially in the social sphere, they themselves often influence the objects of their predictions and explanations. Whether in economics, epidemiology or machine learning, models have an influence on the social world by influencing political decisions and individual behaviour.

This can compromise scientific predictions and explanations. For example, if an epidemiological model predicts numerous deaths, people may reduce their level of social contact, which can in turn mean that the predicted events do not occur. These developments also raise difficult ethical questions with respect to the legitimacy of science as a guideline for human affairs and the values this process is based on.

Should we welcome the increasingly practical role of the sciences in policy-making and individual behaviour? Or could this type of influence be used in a manipulative manner that potentially undermines democratic decision-making? To date, the philosophy of science has provided very little guidance in this regard. Van Basshuysen and team’s MAPS project is intended to fill this gap.


Note to editors:

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Philippe van Basshuysen, Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences (tel. +49 511 762 14724, email: