Skip to main content


Dr Stephan Guttinger

Lecturer (Philosophy of Data/Data Ethics)

Byrne House FF11

I am a philosopher of science with a background in biochemistry. My research focuses on knowledge-generation in the contemporary life sciences, with a particular focus on how scientists produce reliable and trustworthy data in different experimental settings.

I am also interested in the nature of molecules, defending the view that molecular complexes, such as viruses, are best understood as processes rather than "things" or substances. Such ontological claims, I argue, have relevance for ethical debates about how to respond to viral pandemics or how to approach new biotechnological tools such as genome editing.

Office hours: Tuesdays 12pm (noon)-1pm; Wednesdays 2pm-3pm 

Meetings via Zoom or in person (Byrne House, F11)) 

To book a slot please use this link. Please indicate if you prefer an in-person or zoom meeting

Personal website:

Research interests

Philosophy of Data; Philosophy of Experimentation; Philosophy of Biology; Data Ethics; Research Integrity; Biomedical Ethics and Ontology

I am interested in how researchers in the biomedical sciences create trustworthy output, a question that has become particularly relevant in the context of the debate about a ‘replication crisis’ in the experimental sciences. I have argued that the issue might be less problematic than some commentators think, at least in the life sciences. I am also interested in questions about the nature of macromolecular complexes, such as genomes or viruses (I argue, based on the work I have done with John Dupré, that the latter are processes rather than substances). Last but not least, I am also interested in the ethical implications of these recent developments in the biomedical sciences. I have looked, for instance, at how the changing understanding of entities such as viruses is affecting debates about childhood vaccination. I am also interested in how a more process-based picture of the human genome shapes (or should shape) debates about the safety of heritable genome editing in humans.

For an up-to-date list of my publications please see my Google Scholar profile here.


I was born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland. I studied biology at the ETH Zurich, where I also did my PhD and a post-doc in the lab of Ulrike Kutay in the Biochemistry Department. After almost a decade at the bench, I changed my field of research to philosophy of science. This new trajectory eventually led me to my current post at the University of Exeter. Before coming to Exeter I also worked as a guest teacher at the London School of Economics and as a Teaching Fellow in the Philosophy department at Durham University.

 Edit profile