Potential MA topics in Practical Philosophy
Areas of expertise
Chair of practical philosophy combines expertise on theoretical ethics with extensive research and collaboration network on numerous applied ethics fields. We closely collaborate with Centre for Ethics that is an interdisciplinary institution with cooperation links with eight different faculties of the university. Therefore a student will have an opportunity for direct engagement whether his/her topic is on sports ethics, abortion, social justice or ethical aspects of pedagogy. The breadth of our expertise in applied ethics is demonstrated by both of our research as well as teaching (courses in bioethics, medical ethics, environmental ethics, engineering ethics, ethics of sexuality). But we are also both teaching and doing research in theoretical ethics and political philosophy.
Kadri Simm: potential topics for supervision
I am interested in supervising student work in the areas of political and moral philosophy. More precisely:
In political philosophy, especially pertaining to topics like justice (incl. distributive justice, global justice), human rights and political rights, liberalism (and its criticisms). Also femininist theory in its various forms.
I also have a special interest in bioethics. This ranges from analysing the ethical and social aspects of new (medical) technologies (genomics, biobanking, pharmacogenomics, genetic testing and screening) to the age-old topics like abortion, euthanasia as well reproductive medicine. Oftentimes questions of political philosophy and bioethics meet up, for example when we query about people's responsibilities towards their health or about the socio-economic determinants of health.
Siobhan Kattago: potential topics for supervision
I am keen to supervise students interested in the following areas of political and social philosophy:
- The politics of memory and representation
- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
- Jürgen Habermas, The New Conservatism
- Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting
- Memory, historical consciousness and tradition
- Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History for Life
- Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method
- The problem of evil and political judgment
- Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
- Zygmunt Bauman & Leonidas Donskis, Moral Blindness
- Human rights versus power and state sovereignty
- Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
- Carl Schmitt, Political Theology
I am also happy to supervise work on other topics in the history of political and social philosophy.
Francesco Orsi: potential topics for supervision
1. Meta-ethics and Moral Argument
It is common to distinguish between facts and values, between what is and what ought to be. But in what does this difference consist? And what does it imply for the moral debates we typically have with other people? While these questions have always been part of philosophy, since the XX century many philosophers have more explicitly and focusedly asked, and tried to answer, such questions in a variety of ways.
Geoff Sayre-McCord "Metaethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Geoff Sayre-McCord "Moral Realism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Richard Joyce "Moral Anti-Realism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
2. Normative Ethics and Particularism
Since Socrates philosophers have aimed to give a reasoned and systematic answer to the question 'how should I live'. Different models have been proposed throughout history and, in various forms and variations, many are still regarded today as plausible candidates: Aristotelian virtue ethics, Kantian deontology, utilitarianism, contractualism, and others. As a result, the current ethical debate is more alive than it has ever been before. Recently, philosophers known as 'particularists' have also started wondering whether an answer to 'how should I live' should at all be based on principles, as opposed to contextual and case by case judgment.
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong "Consequentialism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Larry Alexander and Michael Moore "Deontological Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Rosalind Hursthouse "Virtue Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Jonathan Dancy "Moral Particularism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
3. History of Ethics
I am also happy to supervise students interested in a more historical focus on particular periods, traditions, authors in the history of moral philosophy, ranging from the ancient Greeks to Modern and Contemporary philosophy.
4. Philosophy of Sexuality
Sexuality is a sphere of experience that can raise, and has raised, many philosophical and ethical questions: what is sexual desire? is there anything like a 'normal' sexuality? are there any special principles that should govern sexuality? But I am also happy to supervise projects in other areas of applied ethics (animal ethics, environmental, genetic engineering, etc.).
Sample titles of theses supervised: Bernard Williams' critique of ethical theory; The case for the legal rights of non-human animals; The problem of non-identity in the animal context.
Below is a short overview of the research projects that the Chair of Practical Philosophy is involved with – these topics are opportunities to offer students hands-on research experience and supervision.
Disagreements. The persistence of disagreements even among well-informed rational people on many ethical issues raises both theoretical worries about the objectivity of morality and practical questions about how we should deal with them. In practical terms we are interested in the question what can be done with disagreements owed to emotional factors and conflicting values. To what extent can emotions be rationally responsive and subject to control? Are disagreements on moral and political issues irresolvable if there is incommensurability of values? Can values be ranked in specific contexts, even if they clash on the fundamental level? What is meant by ‘context’?
Disaster bioethics is an interdisciplinary project focused on the ethical decision-making within disaster situations. Funded by COST, it brings together medical doctors and other relief workers with philosophers, lawyers and sociologists to debate and discuss ethical dilemmas in catastrophes, whether man-made or not.
Genetic research. Centre for Ethics has been involved in researching the social, ethical and legal aspects of genetic research, and especially biobanking, for over 10 years (incl. numerous international and national cooperation projects). At the moment we are investigating the feedback issues related to genetic research and doing qualitative research with doctors on the incidental findings arising from genetic research.
Unity of normative discourse. Between Reasons and Responsibility. Funded by ETAG, the project investigates the traditional meta-ethical question of what makes judgments of value distinct from other kinds of judgments. The work hypothesis is that two levels of inquiry need to be jointly pursued: 1) Conceptual: Which concept, if any, is the minimum common factor of the content of normative judgments? 2) Practical: What does making a value (e.g. moral, or aesthetical) judgment commit me to?