Photo by Maryia Ramanava
Robert Michels

I received a B.A. in pedagogy and art history from the University of Karlsruhe (TH) and a M.A. in philosophy from the University of Constance. In December 2013, I defended and thereby received my PhD ("doctorat ès lettres") in philosophy from the University of Geneva, where I was afterwards employed as a postdoc within the SNSF-funded research project Indeterminacy and Formal Concepts. Then I taught courses and seminars in logic, metaphysics, philosophy of language, and the history of analytic philosophy at the Universities of Geneva and Neuchâtel, temporarily replacing Prof. Fabrice Correia. After that, I was working as a postdoc in Prof. Kevin Mulligan's SNSF-project "Identity in Cognitive Science, Quantum Mechanics, and Metaphysics" hosted by the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). In autumn 2021, I'm teaching a BA-seminar on social ontology at the University of Bern, temporarily replacing Prof. Vera Hoffmann-Kolss and together with Martin Glazier, I am organizing the weekly research seminar of eidos at the University of Geneva.

For more details, please see my academic cv.

My research is mainly in metaphysics and philosophy of language and it usually engages in some form with modality or indeterminacy. I also have interests in epistemology (a priori/a posteriori distinction, epistemology of modality and essence, understanding), philosophy of mind (dualism/materialism, panpsychism), general philosophy of science/metaphysics of science (laws of nature, quantum indeterminacy) and the history of philosophy (early analytic philosophy, early realist phenomenology). I am happy to engage with relevant research in other areas of philosophy and other disciplines, such as linguistics or the natural sciences. I'm also a fan of collaborative research and teaching.

So far, I've taught courses and seminars in metaphysics, philosophy of language, logic, history of analytic philosophy, and also some subjects in epistemology and the philosophy of science, some at undergraduate, some at graduate level, some in German, some in English, some in French, some in Germany, most in Switzerland.

My e-mail address: mail (a)

Published and forthcoming papers, dissertation (click titles for abstracts)


Während ich einen kurzen Text, den ich einige Tage zuvor geschrieben hatte, dessen ich mir aber nicht wirklich sicher war, zu korrigieren oder noch zu ergänzen versuchte, fiel mir ein längeres Haar vom Kopf auf das Papier. Es lag da, nur wenig gekrümmt, schräg von links unten nach rechts oben über das Blatt hin.

Erich Fried

Plural Metaphysical Supervaluationism — co-authored with Cristian Mariani, Giuliano Torrengo (forthcoming in Inquiry)

Links: published version (online first) (subscription required), final draft version.

The Strong Arm of the Law. A Unified Account of Necessary and Contingent Laws of Nature — co-authored with Salim Hirèche, Niels Linnemann, Lisa Vogt (Synthese 199: 10211–10252 (2021))

Links: published version (open access), PhilSci archive preprint, local copy.

The Modal Status of the Laws of Nature. Tahko's Hybrid view and the Kinematical/Dynamical Distinction — co-authored with Salim Hirèche, Niels Linnemann, Lisa Vogt (The European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (25): 1-15 (2021)).

Links: published version (open access), PhilSci archive preprint, local copy

Husserlian Eidetic Variation and Objectual Understanding as a basis for an Epistemology of Essence (Logos & Episteme XI (3): 333-353 (2020))

Links: published version (open access), final draft version

Correct Conceivability and its Role in the Epistemology of Modality (In: Declos, A., & Guillon, J. (Eds.), Les principes métaphysiques. Paris : Collège de France (2020))

Links: published version (free to read online), final draft version

On How (Not) to Define Modality in Terms of Essence (Philosophical Studies 176 (4): 1015–1033 (2019))

Links: published version (free to read online), published version (subscription required), final draft version

The Limits of Non-Standard Contingency (Philosophical Studies 176 (2): 533-558 (2019))

Links: published version (free to read online), published version (subscription required), final draft version

Essential Truths and Their Truth-Grounds (Ergo 5 (30): 790-815 (2018))

Links: published version (open access), local copy

Cross-World Comparatives for Modal Realists (Organon F 25 (3):368-391 (2018))

Links: published version (open access), final draft version

Soames's Argument 1 against Strong Two-Dimensionalism (Philosophical Studies 161 (3):403-420 (2012))

Links: published version (subscription required), erratum to the published version (subscription required), final draft version (the final draft version has more conveniently placed tables, doesn't require a subscription, and incorporates the two corrections listed in the erratum)

• Dissertation: Metaphysical Modality and Essentiality (University of Geneva, defended in December 2013)

Special issue of dialectica on the formalization of arguments

I've edited a special issue of the journal dialectica on the logical formalization of arguments. The issue will be published in 2021 and contains original research papers by Hanoch Ben-Yami, Roy T. Cook, Bogdan Dicher, Vladan Djordjevic, Joongol Kim, Friedrich Reinmuth, and Gil Sagi and an introduction which gives a rough overview of the topic written by me.

• Link to the final draft of my introduction.

Teaching material

Syllabi for some of the courses I have taught:

Slides for my introductory lectures on identity and essence for the seminar "Ontology meets science" (see above).

Sets of slides (in French) for my lectures Introduction à la logique des propositions and Introduction à la logique des prédicats (Introduction to propositional and to predicate logic) taught at the University of Neuchâtel twice, from fall 2018 to spring 2020. The main focus of the lecture was on giving students the tools to evaluate deductive arguments. Meta-theoretic results (soundness and correctness) are only briefly mentioned in the last set. Comments and suggestions very welcome!

Academic events:

Workshops and conferences which I have co-organized:

Other interests



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