Plausibility plays an important role both in everyday life and in all scientific cultures - whether implicit or explicit. It is striking, however, that it does not require any specifically trained competence or the teaching of independent skills in order to judge a situation as 'plausible'.

Together with linguist Paul Reszke, I have developed a model of the typical usage pattern under the title "Linguistic-Philosophical Studies on Plausibility". We have hypothetically applied this pattern to as many different fields of science as possible and tested its applicability to the general description of scientific upheaval processes, starting with historical examples up to the present, and in particular the mutual relationship between lay knowledge, expert knowledge and the media mediating between them.


We assume that the multi-layered and flexible uses of plausible reflect an implicit pattern of argumentation and thought with which knowledge can be both consolidated and questioned. These knowledge dynamics are accompanied by a corresponding constant reassessment of the status of scientific facts: What is considered plausible or not under which conditions?


We have already been able to pursue this research interest in various contexts, for example with regard to the role of forms of visualization as plausibility strategies for scientific evidence.

Contributions to the Project Plausibility

»Interestingly, there is little literature on the concept of plausibility, although it plays an important role in everyday life. For a basic treatise on the term and its use see Böhnert and Reszke.«

Renn, Ortwin (2017): Zeit der Verunsicherung. Reinbek: Rowohlt. (Translation M. B.)


with Reszke, Paul (2015): Linguistisch-philosophische Untersuchungen zu Plausibilität: Über kommunikative Grundmuster bei der Entstehung von wissenschaftlichen Tatsachen. In: Engelschalt, Julia; Maibaum, Arne (Ed.): Auf der Suche nach den Tatsachen: Proceedings der 1. Tagung des Nachwuchsnetzwerks "INSIST", 22./23.10.2014, Berlin. SSOAR, S. 40-67, urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-455901


Fakten in der Krise  Die Dynamik zwischen Vertrauen, Wissen und Plausibilität am Beispiel des Klimawandeldiskurses (gemeinsam mit Paul Reszke), Internationale Tagung Kulturell Konstruktiv. Université Genèva, 01.07.2022.

Zur Plausibilität wissenschaftlicher Tatsachen am Beispiel der Erforschung des Geistes von Tieren, Forschungskolloquium, Moritz-Schlick-Forschungsstelle supervised by Matthias Wunsch. University of Rostock, 25.06.2019.

It was so beautiful it had to be true – Visualisierungsformen als Plausibilisierungsstrategie von wissenschaftlichen Tatsachen (with Paul Reszke, Kassel), Internationale Tagung VisuHu 2017: Visualisierungsprozesse in den Humanities - Linguistische Perspektiven auf Prägungen, Praktiken, Positionen. University of Zürich, 17.07.2017.

Plausibilität – linguistisch-philosophische Untersuchungen (with Paul Reszke, Kassel), Conference of the Interdisciplinary Network for Studies Investigating Science and Technology (INSIST): Auf der Suche nach den Tatsachen –Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf die Materialität, Vielfalt und Flüchtigkeit wissenschaftlichen und technischen Wissens. Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), 23.10.2014.

Interviews & Features

Letztgültige Antworten in der Wissenschaft – Was wissen wir wirklich? Zeitfragen-Feature by Florian Felix Weyh: Zeitfragen, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 01.04.2021.