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Practical Philosophy at Bielefeld

Welcome

The research group Practical Philosophy has a focus of research in metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. We strive to create a vibrant international research environment open to all who wish to work on questions of practical philosophy with a systematic focus. A main focus is on the theory of normativity.

Our main forum is the Research Colloquium Practical Philosophy & Normativity, where we regularly exchange ideas about our work or discuss philosophical contributions with guests. You can find more information here.

Team

Prof. Dr. Benjamin Kiesewetter

Professor of Practical Philosophy

Benjamin Kiesewetter

Research interests: Normativity, rationality and reasons; non-consequentialism and ethical pluralism; democratic theory; climate ethics; child ethics.

Research projects: "The Structure of Normativity" (ERC Starting Grant); climate change and democracy; moral rights and aggregation; children's rights and child ethics.

Email: benjamin.kiesewetter@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https://www.benjaminkiesewetter.net

Dr. Daniele Bruno

Visiting Professor of Practical Philosophy (summer semester 2024)

Daniele Bruno

Research interests: Metaethics, normative ethics, selected questions of applied ethics.

Research projects: Ignorance, moral responsibility and moral obligation (DFG research project at HU Berlin), promissory normativity and normative powers in general (dissertation project); "The Structure of Normativity" (associate member).

Email: daniele.bruno@uni-bielefeld.de

Personal website: https://danielebruno.weebly.com

Dr. Dmitry Ananiev

Research assistant (postdoc)

Dmitry Ananiev

Research interests: Normative ethics and normative reasons; moral rights; demandingness of morality; perfect and imperfect duties; moral responsibility.

Research projects: "Imperfect Moral Rights" (postdoctoral researcher); imperfect duties and obligatory ends; epistemic condition on moral responsibility.

Email: dmitry.ananiev@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https://www.dmitryananiev.com

Dr. Singa Behrens

Research assistant (postdoc)

Singa Behrens

Research interests: Normativity and normative reasons; moral rights; non-naturalism; normative explanations and grounding; truthmaker semantics.

Research projects: Moral rights and normative reasons, explanatory reasons and normative explanations, "The Structure of Normativity" (associate member).

Email: singa.behrens@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https://www.singabehrens.de

Dr. Shane Ward

Research assistant (postdoc)

Shane Ward

Research interests: Normativity; normative reasons; moral epistemology; moral worth; virtue epistemology.

Research projects: "The Structure of Normativity" (post-doctoral researcher); reasons, virtue, and moral worth; sentimentalism and moral epistemology.  

Email: shane.ward@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/fakultaeten/philosophie/personen/ward/

Marie Wegener, MA

Research assistant (doctoral student)

Marie Wegener

Research interests: Metaethics; philosophy of emotions; conceptual engineering; applied ethics; Wittgenstein.

Research projects: "The Structure of Normativity" (doctoral researcher).

Email: marie.wegener@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/fakultaeten/philosophie/personen/wegener/

Kai Yakoubou Pfeiffer

Student Assistant

Kai Pfeiffer

Research interests: Metaethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of language.

Email: kai.pfeiffer@uni-bielefeld.de

Associated Department Members

Dr. Roland Kipke

Research Assistant (DFG Eigene Stelle)

Dr. Roland Kipke

Research interests: Human dignity, meaningful life, good life; bioethics, especially assisted dying, beginning of life, biomedical enhancement; democratic theory, migration; gender and language; self-formation.

Research projects: The meaning-oriented theory of human dignity.

Email: r.kipke@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https: //www.uni-bielefeld.de/fakultaeten/philosophie/personen/kipke/

Prof. Dr. Ralf Stoecker

Senior professor

Prof. Dr. Ralf Stoecker

Research interests: Applied and theoretical ethics, in particular: medical ethics, life and death, personhood, human dignity, responsibility; theory of action and philosophy of mind; metaphysics and the ontology of persons.

Research projects: Agency - An investigation into an essential form of social life.

Email: ralf.stoecker@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https: //www.uni-bielefeld.de/fakultaeten/philosophie/personen/stoecker/

Dr. Almut Kristine v. Wedelstaedt

Research assistant (postdoc)

Dr. Almut Kristine v. Wedelstaedt

Research interests: Philosophy of sexuality, sexual ethics; moral philosophy, especially questions of moral justification; anthropology, especially questions of personhood, personal identity and selfhood, and philosophical theories of narrative identity.

Research projects: Sexual ethics.

Email: awedelstaedt@uni-bielefeld.de

Website: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/fakultaeten/philosophie/personen/wedelstaedt/

Guests & Alumni

Alexander (Sasha) Arridge

Visiting Ph.D. student (DAAD scholar), 2023-24

Alexander (Sasha) Arridge

Research interests:  Practical rationality and the metaphysics of value and reasons; environmental ethics; Aristotle’s ethics; death and dying.

Research projects:  “Aspects of Normativity: The Evaluative and The Deontic” (DPhil Thesis); “The Structure of Normativity" (Visiting PhD Student); “Protecting Minds: The Right to Mental Integrity and the Ethics of Arational Influence” (Research Assistant).  
 
Email: alexander.arridge@st-annes.ox.ac.uk

Research

The Structure of Normativity

 

 

Some of the core fields of philosophy – including moral philosophy, value theory, and epistemology – are, at their heart, concerned with normative questions: questions about what is good or bad, right or wrong, justified or unjustified. These questions concern the content of judgements that human beings are constantly making and that structure our way of thinking, feeling, and acting. But while there is wide agreement in contemporary philosophy that normative judgements form a unified and important category of human thought, philosophers still struggle to understand what normativity actually is. One highly attractive hypothesis is that normativity can be analysed in terms of reasons – i.e. in terms of the factors that count in favour of or against actions or attitudes. 

"REASONS F1RST: The Structure of Normativity" is an ERC funded research project led by Prof. Dr. Benjamin Kiesewetter (duration 2022-2027). More information can be found here on the project website.

 

Climate change and democracy

There are good reasons to doubt that current democracies are adequately addressing the global and future-related challenges of climate change. This research project deals with questions that arise from this tension. For example: How can representational deficits of current democracies (in relation to young, future or globally affected persons) be addressed? What alternatives are there to the current forms of democratic decision-making and what about their democratic legitimacy? Are veto rights justifiable for expert panels or citizens' panels that have come about on the basis of lotteries? To what extent do current democratic laws enjoy legitimacy when it comes to the destruction of important resources for the future? Do current climate policies justify civil disobedience or other forms of politically motivated lawbreaking? What are the dangers of social polarisation posed by climate change, climate policy, climate activism and a change in the political system appropriate to climate change, and how are these to be normatively assessed?

 

Moral rights

This project examines the notion of moral rights. One subproject ("Moral Rights and Aggregation") is concerned with the question of whether moral rights can be understood as contributory reasons with specific properties, in particular the property of excluding aggregative considerations that are central for consequentialist moral theories. This understanding of moral rights is then made fruitful for debates in normative ethics, such as the controversy over whether there is a duty to save the greater number of people when we cannot save them all. Another subproject ("Imperfect Moral Rights") explores the neglected distinction between perfect and imperfect rights. Imperfect moral rights differ from perfect ones, for instance, by being unclaimable or unenforceable. The subproject pursues the hypothesis that this distinction is helpful in addressing a number of controversially discussed questions, such as whether people in need have moral rights to be helped, whether people in close personal relationships have moral rights against one another, and whether benefactors have moral rights to gratitude.

 

Children's rights and child ethics

This project is about the moral status of children and ethical questions that arise in relation to this status. Among them: May we deprive children of basic rights, such as the right to vote, and if so, on what basis? How should we understand parental authority and what is its basis? Do children have specific obligations towards their parents? What is the basis for compulsory education and what rights do children have at school? What are the ethical implications of adopting a child? What are the implications of the assumption that children can be rights holders for the theory of rights (e.g. the will theory or the interest theory)?

Events

Research colloquium

Research Colloquium Practical Philosophy & Normativity: Here we regularly exchange ideas about our work or discuss philosophical contributions with guests. You can find more information here.

Workshops

Rights and Reasons (January 2025)

„Rights and Reasons“ - a workshop on the relationship between moral rights and normative reasons, January 16-17, 2025. With: Joseph Bowen (Leeds), Rowan Cruft (Stirling), Adina Preda (Trinity College Dublin), Laura Valentini (LMU), Ariel Zylberman (Albany).

You can download the Call for Abstracts here: CfA-Rights-and-Reasons.

Normative Reasons, Explanation, and Grounding (October 2024)

"Normative Reasons, Explanation, and Grounding" - a workshop on the relationship between normative reasons and explanatory reasons, October 24-25, 2024. With: Selim Berker (Harvard), John Broome (Oxford), Daniel Fogal (NYU), Stephanie Leary (McGill), Olle Risberg (Uppsala), Eva Schmidt (Dortmund), Eliot Watkins (MIT), Shlomit Wygoda-Cohen (Van Leer Institute).

You can download the Call for Abstracts here: CfA-Reasons-Explanation-Grounding.

Reasons in Ethics and Epistemology (October 2023)

"Reasons in Ethics and Epistemology" - a workshop on the role of normative reasons in ethics and epistemology. With: Alexander (Sasha) Arridge (Oxford), Anne Meylan (Zurich), Thomas Schmidt (HU Berlin) and Mark Schroeder (USC).

You can download the workshop programme here:

Reasons-in-Ethics-and-Epistemology.

Teaching

Summer semester 2024

Theories of well-being

Ananiev Link

Ethics of letting live and letting die

Ananiev Link

Eltern, Kinder und was sie einander schulden

Behrens Link

Unwissenheit und Moral

Bruno Link

Philosophischer Einstieg: Einführung in die Tierethik

Bruno Link

Philosophisches Schreiben: Singer, Praktische Ethik

Bruno Link

Forschungskolloquium: Practical Philosophy & Normativity

Bruno Link

Individuelle und kollektive Verantwortung 

Stoecker Link

Moral epistemology

Ward Link

Virtue epistemology

Ward Link

Winter semester 2023/24

Normativität, Rationalität und Gründe

Kiesewetter Link

Research Colloquium: Practical Philosophy & Normativity

Kiesewetter Link

Introduction to Moral Responsibility

Ananiev Link

Philosophischer Einstieg: Effective Altruism, Environment, and the Future

Ananiev Link

Scanlon's What we owe to each other

Behrens Link

Philosophischer Einstieg: Kontraktualismus

Behrens Link

Introduction to Metaethics

Ward Link

Philosophisches Schreiben: Plato on Justice

Ward Link

Einwilligung (in cooperation with CAU Kiel)

v. Wedelstaedt Link

Podcast Seminar: Philosoph*innen reden über Gefühle

v. Wedelstaedt Link

Satellitenseminar: Philosophie der Moral

v. Wedelstaedt Link

Summer semester 2023

Zählt die Anzahl? Aggregationismus und Nonaggregationismus in der Ethik

Kiesewetter Link

Research Colloquium: Practical Philosophy & Normativity

Kiesewetter Link

Ross' Theorie der prima facie Pflichten

Behrens Link

Philosophisches Schreiben: Nikomachische Ethik

Behrens Link

Philosophisches Schreiben: Personale Identität

v. Wedelstaedt Link

Satellitenseminar: Philosophie der Moral

v. Wedelstaedt Link
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