Martin Kolmar’s recent research interests cover three interrelated areas. First, he develops a comprehensive critique of the epistemic, ontological, and normative foundations of mainstream economics. The purpose of this critique is second to develop alternative normative foundations that are based on research from evolutionary psychology, psychology, neuroscience, and narratology. The findings from these areas reveal patterns of human behavior, perception, development, and wellbeing that are closely related to concepts from virtue ethics and that give rise to perceptions of individual wellbeing, the role of the individual and society, and economic policies that are radically different from mainstream economics. His third main focus is the development of a theory of the sublime in modern society. From its very beginning there have been two competing narratives regarding secular (post-) modernity, a positive story of success and a negative story of alienation and disenchantment. Whereas mainstream economics short circuits questions regarding meaning of life and purpose with the maximization of preferences, virtue ethics has to address these questions more directly. Interestingly, meaning seems to be very closely related to experiences of the sublime, and these experiences can also be used as a unifying concept to interpret several important processes in modern, western societies. The purpose of this project is to develop a theory of the societal and individual consequences of sublime experiences. His research brings together research from economics, philosophy (epistemology, ontology, aesthetics, and ethics), evolutionary psychology, psychology, neuroscience, and narratology.
Martin Kolmar publishes regularly in journals and newspapers like NZZ, FAZ, Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, or Wirtschaftswoche.
Theory of contests and endogenous institutions
Neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and psychology of perception, behavior, and wellbeing
Theories of justice, justice between generations
Normativity in economics
Principles of Economics (Undergraduate), Economics and Ethics (Graduate), Modern Theories of Justice (Graduate), Beyond Homo Economicus (Graduate), Narrative Lost (Graduate), Ökonomie des Glücks (Undergraduate)
Economics and happiness
The sublime and the foundations of modern society
Chairs or Professorships at the Universities of Göttingen, and Mainz, Long-Term Research projects at the Universities UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Brown University
Martin Kolmar is a member of several academic associations.