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Robert Frühstückl

Robert Frühstückl completed his bachelor degree in Philosophy at the University of Vienna in 2010. In 2009 he was one of the founders of the Vienna Forum for Analytic Philosophy, which is still active today. From 2010-2014 he continued his studies in the Master programme History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Vienna and completed it with a thesis on Rudolf Carnap's classic Der Logische Aufbau der Welt.

His research interests include the philosophy of the early Rudolf Carnap and the history and philosophy of science with a special focus on statistics.

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Research Project: The Department of Mathematics at the University of Vienna 1938-1945. Negotiating the political uses of applied mathematics

Immediately after 1938, the process of so-called Gleichschaltung led to a profound reorganisation of the former Austrian universities affecting their institutional as well as personnel structure, the emigration and expulsion of Jewish and politically undesirable scientists being one of its most severe consequences. The main interest of my research project is the situation at the University of Vienna after this process had been completed, specifically at the Department of Mathematics. Beginning in 1940, Anton Huber and Karl Mayrhofer, the two principals of the department until 1945, started various attempts and initiatives to establish or rather preserve the subdiscipline of insurance mathematics and mathematical statistics at the University of Vienna, based on its particular usability and applicability as a tool for National Socialist demographical policy but also with its importance for other sciences, such as biology. The fact that, in 1942, plans for a restructuring of the education of mathematicians at the university level were published by the Ministry of Education, separating the discipline in a scientific-technical field on the one hand and an economical field on the other, suggests that the NS regime had a specific interest in this particular category of applied mathematics. Nevertheless, Huber and Mayrhofer did not succeed in their efforts. This raises a number of questions which I want to address in my thesis.

Based on already published literature and archival research I want to investigate in particular why Huber and Mayrhofer failed in their agenda, but also why they initially expected it to be successful. Consequently, I want to raise the question, whether the NS regime had at some time in some form a specific interest in the discipline and the techniques of insurance mathematics and (mathematical) statistics and how such an interest could have been motivated.  

DK Program The Sciences in Historical, Philosophical and Cultural Contexts
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