I was born in Mönchengladbach (West Germany) in 1949. After studying – at the universities of Regensburg, Göttingen, Frankfurt and Hagen – philosophy, mathematics, and sociology -- receiving a diploma in the bread-winning field of business administration on the way -- I finished my thesis in philosophy and was graduated "doctor of philosophy" at Frankfurt University in 1977.
The thesis dealt with philosophical criteria for assessing legitimate state activity and the legitimation of the state itself. Highly appreciating the British tradition of "philosopher economists" I have tried to become a pedestrian "classical political economist" as well. During the last thirty years many of my academic efforts have been devoted to the task of applying arguments from modern economics and game theory to questions that have been raised already by past masters like Hume or Smith but which must be discussed today as well. In the last fifteen years much of that work has been done in collaboration with Werner Güth, director at the Max Planck Institute for Economics in Jena. But we also worked on the foundations of game theory and its relations to evolutionary as well as experimental economics. Besides my economics and philosophy work I wrote an introduction into the philosophy of science for medical doctors and became quite interested in questions of medical ethics and health economics. Working together with medical doctors and health economists I addressed in particular topics of organ allocation, as well as more generally problems of rationing in health care.
In 1983 I have been "habilitiert" at Frankfurt receiving the "venia legendi" for philosophy and became "Privat-Dozent" there. Afterwards I held positions as substitute lecturer for W. Stegmüller (philosophy of science) at the University of Munich and for W. Becker (social philosophy) at the University of Frankfurt. In 1988 I became full professor for practical philosophy at the University of Duisburg (Germany/West) which I left for Frankfurt to become a professor of philosophy and economics at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. I am also one of the external adjunct research associates of the Center for Study of Public Choice, Fairfax VA where I have been teaching courses in “economic philosophy” jointly with James M. Buchanan (whose collected works I co-edited) as well as other courses on related topics. In the academic year 1999-2000 together with J. Frohn, W. Güth and R. Selten I have been co-organizer of the one year research group „making choices“ at the center for interdisciplinary research of the university of Bielefeld. Presently I am one of the two vice-speakers of a German Science Foundation research group on priority setting in medicine (FOR655). If my apparently very diverse interests should be described in one phrase it seems that I have been dealing throughout my academic career with “ethics and rationality under the constraints of scarcity”.