Philosophical Anthropology & Ethics

Research Group

Philosophy Department
Duisburg-Essen University

PhD Students

Björn Bünger



Areas of competence: Moral philosophy, social ethics, business ethics

Topic: Negative Ethics

A central aim of an ethical system is the prevention or alleviation of suffering or unhappiness. My PhD project asks what the status is of injunctions to avoid such negative states, whether by action or omission. The intuition motivating the project is that there are reasons for a normative ethics to focus on avoiding negative experiential states, rather than to pursue positive ideals. Such a normative priority has, as I hope to show, an anthropological foundation.


Astrid Burgbacher



Current academic interests: moral philosophy, metaethics, applied ethics, interdisciplinary research at the interface between philosophy, psychology and neurosciences

Topic: The psychological nature of moral intuitions and their moral relevance

Moral intuitions are a fundamental part of our moral practice: in moral decision-making and in discussions among both "moral experts" (trained philosophers) and "normal moralizers". But what exactly are moral intuitions and how do they contribute to the recognition and justification of moral norms? Against the background of contemporary findings in moral psychology and the philosophy of emotion, I will argue for the claim that moral intuitions stem from moral emotions and then argue for the moral relevance of (certain kinds of) moral intuitions on the basis of a (conceptually as well as empirically plausible) sentimentalist understanding of the nature of human morality.

Tobias Gutmann


Office: R12 V04 D85

Office Hour: Fridays 12-13


Philosophical interests: Metaethics, Epistemology, Wittgenstein

Member of the Mercator Research Group Case Histories.

Topic: Ethical Particularism

The question my PhD thesis aims to answer concerns the roles that moral principles can or should play in moral judgement. I argue against both the traditional view, which holds that moral principles are a necessary precondition of moral thought, and against excessive particularism, according to which there are no principles at all. There is a middle ground to be discovered that explains our use of everyday utterances like "You shall not lie".



Practical Reasons for Particularism (14th June 2013)

Organisation: Tobias Gutmann and Neil Roughley.
The focus of the workshop will be on the strength of specifically practical considerations as justifications of particularism, that is, on the fact that the resort to principles seems to play a minimal role in practical reasoning and in the generation of the actions of moral agent.
Speakers: Maike Albertzart (Humboldt University, Berlin), Simon Kirchin (University of Kent), Constantine Sandis (Oxford Brookes University), Jörg Schroth (Georg-August-University, Göttingen).
For more information see abstract and conference schedule

Dennis Hille



Office: R12 V04 D79

Philosophical interests: Philosophical anthropology, moral philosophy