Photo by Maryia Ramanava
Robert Michels

I received a B.A. in pedagogy and art history from the University of Karlsruhe (TH), a M.A. in philosophy from the University of Constance and a PhD in philosophy from the University of Geneva. I worked as a postdoc in SNSF-funded projects at the University of Geneva and the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). I also taught at the Universities of Bern, Geneva and Neuchâtel and I co-organized the weekly research seminar of eidos from 2017 to 2021. Since November 2022, I'm working at LanCog at the University of Lisbon as a FCT assistant researcher.

My research has been mainly in metaphysics, boardering on the philosophy of science (main topics: essence, modality, laws of nature, metaphysical indeterminacy), and in the philosophy of language (vagueness, two-dimensional semantics). I also have interests in the history of philosophy (early analytic philosophy, early realist phenomenology), aesthetics (especially of music), epistemology (a priori/a posteriori distinction, epistemology of modality and essence, understanding), philosophy of mind (dualism/materialism, panpsychism) and recently also in value theory (value pluralism). 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.

For (even) more details, please see my academic cv.

My e-mail address: mail (a) Comments or feedback on papers always welcome!

Papers and 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

Laws of nature as results of a trade-off — Rethinking the Humean trade-off conception — draft paper, co-authored with Niels Linnemann

Links: preprint on philsci-archive.

History of Essence: Contemporary (Analytic Tradition) — (forthcoming in: Koslicki, K. & Raven, M. J. (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Essence in Philosophy, Routledge)

Links: preprint on philpapers, local copy.

Are all laws of nature created equal? Meta-laws versus more necessary laws — co-authored with Salim Hiréche, Niels Linnemann (forthcoming in Erkenntnis)

Links: published version (online first) (open access), Philsci archive preprint, local copy.

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 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. The forthcoming articles are available online.

Links: Articles on the dialectica website (online first, open access), published version of my introduction (online first, open access), draft version 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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