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Fribourg profile

Diversity in method and pluralism in the range of subjects and philosophical currents studied are the distinguishing features of the doctoral programme of the Department of Philosophy in the University of Fribourg. The Department regularly obtains research funding to promote doctoral studies as well as to create research groups drawing on the competence of the Department's members as well as that of numerous experienced scholars. Professors in charge of specific domains of research supervise doctoral students who are given the opportunity to discuss their work in weekly colloquia as well as to participate in activities organised at the doctoral level in collaboration with other universities in Switzerland and abroad.

Research in the field of ancient philosophy concentrates on classical antiquity (Plato, Aristotle) and its historical and systematic reception. Systematically, research focuses on areas of theoretical philosophy (metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind) as well as practical philosophy (ethics, theory of action, moral psychology, freedom of will and responsibility), with a particular interest in topics that combine theoretical and practical questions. In Fribourg, an approach is pursued that combines the reading, reconstruction and interpretation of texts from the history of philosophy with a systematic approach and that also takes into account subsequent modern developments such as virtue ethics, Neo-Aristotelianism in metaphysics. Proposals for theses on topics in classical antiquity, but also on other periods from pre-Socratic philosophers through to Late Antiquity and within the fields of metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of mind/moral psychology, theory of action and philosophy of language are welcome. A command of ancient Greek and/or Latin is required. Doctoral students receive individual support for their research projects and they are given the opportunity to present their respective research and exchange their ideas in regular colloquia in Fribourg. Regularly, external speakers are invited to give lectures or participate in seminars. Additionally, workshops and symposia are organised, which can also be set up by the doctoral students supported by their supervisor or the Faculty more generally.

Medieval philosophy is considered in its diversity and in its long term development. In the Arabic field, the focus is on the falsafa, the philosophy inherited from Greek thought, as well as on the kalâm, which developed independently. In the Latin field, the focus is on late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, as well as on the later Middle Ages, when philosophy developed within the new universities, and on its modern developments. The main research themes are metaphysics, philosophy of nature, epistemology, anthropology and ethics. Fluency in Arabic or Latin is required. Doctoral students in medieval philosophy also have access to the doctoral programmes of the Institute of Medieval Studies and of the CUSO (Romand Doctoral Programme in Philosophy), which offer a wide range of activities to familiarise the candidates with specific aspects of medieval culture, including the problem of the transmission and edition of texts.

Research in the domain of modern and contemporary philosophy integrates two currents of thought which have had a major influence on contemporary philosophy, phenomenology and «analytic» philosophy. Doctoral research and training are as much about the historical origins of these two traditions as about the theoretical examination of the questions they raise. Topics addressed in this context include the relationship between the subjectivity of experience and the objectivity of knowledge. These questions are analysed not only from the theoretical perspective, as part of the study of cognitive attitudes, but also from a more practical perspective, through an analysis of the rationality of action.

The field of the philosophy of language, of mind and of human sciences focuses on questions related to the ontological status and, more generally, to the nature of experiencing subjects are at the center of the field of philosophy of language, mind and the human sciences. They include issues about phenomenal consciousness, the identity and individuality of conscious individuals, self-consciousness, agentive experience and free will, the role of emotion in human action, the relationship between language and thought and the one between phenomenality and intentionality. In this area a systematic approach is practiced in Fribourg which gives weight to rational intuition and to phenomenological reflection. Proposals for theses within the philosophy of language, epistemology, ontology and metaphysics, as well as on questions at the intersection of philosophy and the cognitive sciences are also welcome.

In the fields of ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics and philosophy of art, doctoral students receive individual support for their research projects, from their supervisor and from Faculty more generally. They are offered various opportunities to continue their training and present their thesis projects. Every semester, external speakers are invited to give lectures on chosen topics. The colloquia for advanced students are an opportunity for master's and doctoral students to exchange ideas and present their respective research. In addition, doctoral students are supported in setting up workshops and symposia. The themes and fields of research are multiple: questions of value, ethics and meta-ethics, practical philosophy, history of political thought, philosophy of social sciences, aesthetics, the relationship between aesthetics and politics, subjectivity and society, philosophy of art, philosophy of perception, theories of media and technology, philosophy of culture.

Professors who are eligible to supervise theses

  • Prof. Béatrice Lienemann

Areas of specialisation:
– Metaphysics
– Philosophy of language
– Philosophy of mind/Moral psychology
– Ethics, Meta-ethics
– Theory of action, Free will and Determinism

  • Prof. Kristell Trego

Areas of specialisation:
– Medieval (Arabic and Latin) philosophy
– History of metaphysics
– Ethics and Philosophy of action
– Psychology and Theories of knowledge

  • Prof. Gianfranco Soldati

Areas of specialisation:
– Phenomenology
– Theory of knowledge (perception, self-knowledge)
– Theory of action

  • Prof. Martine Nida-Rümelin

Areas of specialisation:
– Phenomenal consciousness
– The identity and individuality of conscious individuals

  • Prof. Ralf Bader

Areas of specialisation:
– Ethics
– Meta-ethics
– Political philosophy
– Decision theory
– Axiology

  • Prof. Emmanuel Alloa

Areas of specialisation:
– Aesthetics and Philosophy of art
– Phenomenology (German and French)
– Philosophy of culture and of social sciences

Studies organisation

Structure of studies

ECTS credits can be earned.

Doctoral school

https://studies.unifr.ch/go/fr-phd-mediaevum (French)
https://studies.unifr.ch/go/de-phd-mediaevum (German)


In order to be admitted to a doctorate the candidate must have been awarded an academic bachelor's and master's degree or an equivalent qualification from a university recognised by the University of Fribourg.

Before applying for a doctorate the candidate must contact a professor who would be willing to supervise the thesis work.

There is no general right to be admitted to a doctorate.

The respective conditions of admission for each doctoral study programme are reserved.