Thomas Potthast


Thomas Potthast serves as Managing Director (Wissenschaftlicher Koordinator) of the Interdepartmental Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW) of the University of Tübingen. He also is Deputy Spokesperson of the current Postgraduate Research Training Programme "Bioethics - On the Self-Design of Human Beings by Use of Biotechniques" (DFG GRK 889). The ethics centre fosters cooperation between scholars of different disciplines, the advancement of the next generation of researchers as well as the transfer of results to non-academic fields. Thomas Potthast underwent graduate studies in biology and philosophy at the University of Freiburg. He was member of the Postgraduate Research Training Programme "Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities" and fellow at the IZEW (PhD in 1998) in Tübingen, followed by positions at the Max- Planck-Institute for the History of Science Berlin and as Feodor Lynen Fellow of the Humboldt Foundation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Thomas Potthast has teaching experience in the departments of biology, philosophy, forestry and geosciences at various universities. His research interests comprise the whole field of ethics and epistemology of the biosciences as well as theoretical and methodological aspects interdisciplinary theory and practice. Specific topics of recent projects have been assessment problems and concepts of risk and harm in genetic engineering, the relationship of scientific ecology and environmental protection, plurality in medicine and medical ethics, and the commercialisation of the human body.

Among others, he recently published a volume on the philosophy and ethics of biodiversity: Biodiversität - Schlüsselbegriff des Naturschutzes im 21. Jahrhundert?, Bonn 2007, and on biology as the paradigmatic science of the 21st century: "Was bedeutet "Leitwissenschaft"? Und übernehmen Biologie oder die "Lebenswissenschaften" diese Funktion für das 21. Jahrhundert? in: Berendes, J. (ed.) Autonomie durch Verantwortung. Impulse für die Ethik in den Wissenschaften, Paderborn 2007: 285-318.