Hello, JKU! The New Professors at the SOWI Faculty

Julian Reiss is one of the new faces at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Business & Economics.

Professor Julian Reiss
Professor Julian Reiss

Julian Reiss is an economics and ethical philosopher of science at the JKU. We spoke with him about why we need these kinds of academics, what he actually does, and the TV show where he made it to the finals.

What is your area of research?
Julian Reiss: As a philosopher of science, I am particularly interested in social sciences, business/economics, and medicine. A philosopher of science questions fundamental issues in regard to science and academic/scientific work. For example: What are the limits of academic/scientific knowledge in general and knowledge in natural sciences in particular? What can we learn from academic/scientific experiments and what kinds of experiments are reliable? How do we organize science so it can be considered trustworthy and reliable? What is scientific objectivity? Is the history of science a 'graveyard of disproved theories' and if so, does that mean that today's theories are also most likely wrong?

What do you find particularly fascinating about this area?
Julian Reiss: Initially, I studied economics at the University of St. Gallen, specializing in finance and capital markets. Business studies elicit countless philosophical, particularly ethical and epistemological, questions that seemed somewhat nebulous at the time, but are not addressed and discussed as part of contemporary business studies. Even back then, I wanted more than simply answers to questions that were purely business in nature. Afterwards, I enrolled at the London School of Economics to study philosophy in order to be able to address and think about these kinds of questions as part of a doctoral dissertation. Ultimately, I realized that socially significant questions can only be answered in an interdisciplinary manner - you need a little bit of business, sociology, political science, history, ethics, and research logic, etc. This is what continues to motivate and drive me today.

Why is this research even necessary, meaning how will it improve our lives?
Julian Reiss: We didn't need the current coronavirus pandemic to show us that science today greatly influences politics and society. This concentration of power raises many questions related to science’s role in and for society, i.e., the importance scientific expertise in government. Philosophers of science can truly contribute in this area, not only to understand this role, but also modify and improve it in lieu of important social value judgments.

Why did you choose to come to the JKU and what makes the JKU special?
Julian Reiss: The work environment at the JKU is outstanding; it’s a place where both research and education can thrive and progress. The research support in particular is excellent. The university’s location in Upper Austria is ideal, supporting extensive connections to companies and local industry. This is an advantageous environment for hands-on, real-world science.

Why should students take your classes?
Julian Reiss: There are many reasons to take my classes, including strong, research-driven educational content, my international background and professional contacts, my impassioned and entertaining style of presentation, first-rate PowerPoint presentations, introducing unusual questions and perspectives, and an invitation to students to interact and become involved.

What are you currently working on?
Julian Reiss: As always, way too many things. My priorities at the moment include editing the second edition of my textbook Philosophy of Economics and writing a popular science text about academic/scientific work - the logic of research, if you will.

What are your hobbies?
Julian Reiss: Among other things, I enjoy cooking (last year I was a contestant on the ZDF show Küchenschlacht and made it to the finals of Champions Week), playing the piano, art, interior design, listening live music, reading crime novels.

What else do you want to do or achieve in your life?
Julian Reiss: It would be nice to have a more direct voice when addressing social decision-makers. I would also love to write a bestseller but one doesn’t really need to have an academic nature to do that.