Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)
Foto: Peter Winandy

Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand

  • Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS)
    Postfach 3640
    76021 Karlsruhe

Professional background

Before joining KIT, Rafaela Hillerbrand worked as an associate professor at TU Delft and was head of the interdisciplinary research group eet-ethics for energy technology at the Human Technology Centre (HumTec) at RWTH Aachen University. In 2011, she had the chance to advise the ethics commission for safe energy supply under Klaus Töpfer's guidance that was set up in reaction to the accidents in Fukushima. From 2006 till 2008 Rafaela hold a position as a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford.

Fields of work

  • Philosophy of science, engineering and technology
  • Applied ethics (esp. ethics of the environment, engineering ethics)
  • Risk and uncertainty analysis
  • Philosophy of computer simulations


Rafaela Hillerbrand holds a PhD in theoretical physics and a PhD in philosophy. She graduated with distinction (summa cum laude) in both fields. Her PhD thesis on ethics of technology won the Lilli-Bechmann-Rahn-Preis of the University Erlangen Nürnberg in 2005. Her doctoral dissertation in physics was awarded the Ingrid-zu-Solms Naturwissenschaftspreis 2008.

Current positions (selection)

  • Member of the executive board of the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM)
  • Member HEiKa board of directors (Heidelberg Karlsruhe Research Partnership)
  • Ombudsperson for doctoral students and advisors at KIT
  • Deputy member at Council for Research and Promotion of Young Scientists (CRYS)
  • Field Editor “Energy Efficiency and Ethics” for the Journal of Energy Systems (JES)
  • Member of research board Heinz Nixdorf Gesellschaft
  • Member of research board BAM, Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung
  • Member of the Think Tanks of the President of the Helmholtz Foundation
  • Member of research board of the journal GAIA, since 2018
  • Member of advisory board “PlastikBudget - Entwicklung von Budgetansatz und LCA-Wirkungsabschätzungsmethodik für die Governance von Plastik in der Umwelt”

Selected publications

Hillerbrand, R.; Roeser, S.
Towards a Third ‘Practice Turn’: An Inclusive and Empirically Informed Perspective on Risk. In: Franssen, M., Vermaas, P. Kroes, P., Meijers. A.: Philosophy of Technology after the Empirical Turn, Springer, 2016

Hillerbrand, R.; Roeser, S.; Peterson, M.; Sandin, P.
Handbook of Risk Theory. Epistemology, Decision Theory, Ethics and Social Implications of Risk. Springer, 2012

Hillerbrand, R.; Roeser, S.; Peterson, M.; Sandin, P.
Essentials of risk theory. Springer, 2013

Hillerbrand, R.; Reitinger, C.; Dumke, M.; Barosevcic, M.
A conceptual framework for impact assessment within SLCA. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 16(4), 380-388, 2011

Hillerbrand, R.
Order out of Chaos? A Case Study in High Energy Physics. Studia Philosophica Estonica 5(2), 61-78, 2012

Hillerbrand, R.
On non-propositional aspects in modeling complex systems. Analyse & Kritik 32, 107-120, 2010

List of publications outside of ITAS


Sebastian Hallensleben; Fetic, L.; Fleischer, T.; Grünke; Hagendorff, T.; Hauer, M.; Hauschke, A.; Heesen, J.; Herrmann, M.; Hillerbrand, R.; Hubig, C.; Kaminski, A.; Krafft, T.; Loh, W.; Otto, P.; Puntschuh, M.; Hustedt, C.
From Principles to Practice : An interdisciplinary framework to operationalise AI ethics.
2020. Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh 
Eckert, C.; Hillerbrand, R.
Designers as truth makers.
2020. 13th SIG Design Theory Paris Workshop (2020), Paris, France, January 27–28, 2020 
Hillerbrand, R.
Philosophische Betrachtungen der Energiewende: Chancen, Risiken und Unsicherheiten der Digitalisierung.
2020. Frühjahrsakademie Universität Ulm (2020), Ulm, Germany, March 26, 2020 
Funke, J.; Weidemüller, M.; Hillerbrand, R.
Prof. Dr. Bauchgefühl. Wissenschaft zwischen Intelligenz und Intuition.
2019. Prof. Dr. Bauchgefühl, Geist Heidelberg, Im Dialog (2019), Heidelberg, Germany, December 8, 2019 
Hillerbrand, R.
Steht sich der IPCC selber im Wege? Von den Grenzen der Kommunikation wissenschaftlicher Unsicherheiten.
2019. Universität Mannheim (2019), Mannheim, Germany, October 8, 2019 
Hillerbrand, R.
The Role of Scientific Models as Mediators between Theory and Experiment.
2019. Interdisciplinary Symposium: Chemical concepts and Quantum Chemistry (2019), Heidelberg, Germany, November 18–20, 2019 
Hillerbrand, R.; Poznic, M.; Eckert, C.; Stacey, M.
Uncertainties and Games of Make-Believe.
2019. 12th SIG Design Theory Paris Workshop (2019), Paris, France, January 28–29, 2019 
Book Chapters
Hillerbrand, R.
Shaping our Energy Furure: The irreducible entanglement of the ethical, social, and technical realms.
2018. Energy as a Sociotechnical Problem. An Interdiciplinary Perspectice on Control, Change and Action in Energy Transitions. Ed.: C. Büscher, 200–220, Routledge, London 
Hillerbrand, R.
Nachhaltigkeit: Was die Energiewende mit dem guten Leben zu tun hat.
2018. Studium Generale an der Hochschule Pforzheim (2018), Pforzheim, Germany, October 17, 2018 
Hillerbrand, R.
Freiheit und Objektivität der Forschung - Wissenschaft im postfaktischen Zeitalter.
2018, March 6. Vortragsreihe “Vom Reiz des Wissens - Wissenschaft und Erkenntnis” (2018), Nuremberg, Germany, March 6, 2018 
Poznic, M.; Eckert, C.; Hillerbrand, R.; Stacey, M.
Jet engines, design teams and the imagination: Designing as playing games of make-believe.
2018. Forum on Philosophy, Engineering and Technology (fPET), College Park, MD, May 30 - June 1, 2018 
Poznic, M.; Eckert, C.; Hillerbrand, R.; Stacey, M.
Designing as playing games of make-believe.
2018. 11th SIG Design Theory Paris Workshop (2018), Paris, France, January 29–30, 2018 
Journal Articles
Hillerbrand, R.
Mensch und Technik. Wer beherrscht wen?.
2017. Die politische Meinung, 62 (546), 25–30 
Conference Papers
Hillerbrand, R.; Goldammer, K.
Energietechnik und ein gutes Leben: ein Plädoyer für einen neuen Energiediskurs.
2017. Technologischer Fortschritt und gutes Leben, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut, Essen 
Hillerbrand, R.
Towards a values sensitive design of energy transitions. Technology and human wellbeing.
2017. VTI (Values Technology Innovations) Research Day, Delft, NL, October 30, 2017 
Hillerbrand, R.
Who is the expert? Or how the IPPC is its own worst enemy.
2017. Workshop ’Group Decision Making in Scientific Expert Committees, Tilburg University, NL, April 13, 2017 
Book Chapters
Hillerbrand, R.
2016. Handbuch Handlungstheorie. Ed.: M. Kühler, 359–370, J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart. doi:10.1007/978-3-476-05359-6_41
Hillerbrand, R.
Von einer dritten empirischen Wende in der Technikethik. Ein Plädoyer für ein Mehr an Technikethik in der Ingenieurausbildung.
2016. Zur Zukunft der Bereichsethiken – Herausforderungen durch die Ökonomisierung der Welt. Hrsg.: M. Maring, 317–331, KIT Scientific Publishing, Karlsruhe 
Hillerbrand, R.; Roeser, S.
Towards a Third ‘Practice Turn’: An Inclusive and Empirically Informed Perspective on Risk.
2016. Philosophy of Technology after the Empirical Turn. Ed.: M. Franseen, 145–166, Springer, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-33717-3_9
Hillerbrand, R.
Simulierte Wissenschaft oder Erkenntniswerkzeug? Ein philosophischer Blick auf Computersimulationen.
2016. Kolloquium ’Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung’ der Bergischen Universität Wuppertal, 2.Mai 2016 
Hillerbrand, R.
Ethisch-filosofisch perspectief op duurzame energie.
2016. Royal Netherlands Society of Engineers, Utrecht, NL, June 8, 2016 
Hillerbrand, R.
Unscientific because it is uncertain? Scientific because it is uncertain! A philosophical perspective on climate models.
2016. Fronteirs of Science, Technology, and Philosophy, München, January 19, 2016 
Book Chapters
Hillerbrand, R.
The role of nuclear energy in the future energy landscape energy scenarios, nuclear energy, and sustainability.
2015. Taebi, B. [Hrsg.] The Ethics of Nuclear Energy : Risk, Justice, and Democracy in the post-Fukushima Era Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2015, 231–249 
Hillerbrand, R.
Explanation via micro-reduction: on the role of scale separation for quantitative modelling.
2015. Why more is different : Philosophical issues in condensed matter physics and complex systems. Hrsg.: B. Falkenburg, 69–87, Springer, Berlin 
Roeser, S.; Fahlquist, J. N.; Hillerbrand, R.
2015. Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics. Ed.: H. ten Have, ten Have, H. [Hrsg.] Encyclopedia of Global Bioethics Dordrecht : Springer Science and Business Media, 2015 e-ISBN 978-3-319-05544-2, Springer, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-05544-2_388-1
Journal Articles
Brook, B. W.; Edney, K.; Hillerbrand, R.; Karlsson, R.; Symons, J.
Energy research within the UNFCCC: a proposal to guard against ongoing climate-deadlock.
2015. Climate policy, 16 (6), 803–813. doi:10.1080/14693062.2015.1037820
Hillerbrand, R.
Technologie und ihre gesellschaftliche Grundlage.
2015. Konferenz “Technologischer Fortschritt und gutes Leben” am Kulturwissenschaftlichen Institut (KWI) (2015), Essen, Germany, November 19–20, 2015 
Hillerbrand, R.
Risk theory: models and current developments.
2015. FRIAS Junior Researcher Conference “New philosophical perspectives on surveillancecontrol: Beyond the privacy versus security debate” (2015), Freiburg, Germany, November 5–6, 2015 
Hillerbrand, R.
Ethisch-filosofisch perspectief op duurzame energie.
2015. Vereniging voor Wijsbegeerte, Den Haag, NL,21.April 2015