Current Research Projects

Transformation der Gesellschaft zur Nachhaltigkeit

Mit kühlem Kopf. Über den Nutzen der Philosophie für die Klimadebatte. 
Chair of Philosophy II

Mind the Meaning

The Philosophy of Psychological Expressivism
Chair of Philosophy I

The Moral Dimension of Doxastic Norms

The Moral Dimension of Doxastic Norms
Chair of Philosophy I

Dissertation Projects

  • Expressing Myself: Disavowals and the Mind (working title)

    Nadja-Mira Yolcu

    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Freitag, Chair of Philosophy I

    The dissertation project aims to develop an expressivist analysis for the negation of avowals. So far, expressivist theories (Wittgenstein 1953; Bar-On 2004, 2015; Finkelstein 2003; Freitag 2014, 2018) have focused on positive avowals. But negated avowals (disavowals), e.g., “I don’t hope that it is raining,” pose, or seem to pose, a serious problem to avowal expressivism. It is unclear what the utterance of a negated avowal is supposed to express – how can one express the absence of a mental state? The purpose of the dissertation is to examine negated avowals. I will tentatively claim that, in spite of the mentioned problem, they can receive an expressivist interpretation. I propose that disavowals constitute cases of expressive denegation. Thus, we can avoid a descriptivist backlash. An expressivist interpretation of disavowals will, furthermore, contribute to a new understanding of various philosophical problems such as Moore’s paradox and suspension of belief.

  • Scientific Observation in Perspective (working title)

    Lyu Xingyu

    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Freitag, Chair of Philosophy I

    The dissertation project aims to develop a perspectivist account of scientific observation. The observational ability of human observers has been profoundly enlarged and enhanced with the aid of sophisticatedly designed apparatus. Whether the observational results gained via the use of apparatus could be treated as the outcome of a simple continuum of human sensory perception or not, determines how we interpret observational results in science. I will respond to this question from a perspectivist viewpoint and will thus argue that there is no simple continuum thereof. The purpose of this dissertation is to develop a perspectivist theoretical framework with the aim of bridging the gap between the apparatus-based observation and human sense-based observation.

  • Wiedergutmachungen global agierender Unternehmen: Von der Pflicht, gerecht zu wirtschaften (Arbeitstitel)

    Sebastian Burger

    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Bernward Gesang, Chair of Philosophy II

    The doctoral project contributes a practically oriented corporate ethics, which regards human rights as a central, normative foundation and aims at the relative improvement of morally reprehensible conditions. The dissertation has three parts. First, three different principles of attribution of responsibility are analysed and discussed. These include the polluter pays, solvency and beneficiaries principle. In a globalised economy, the polluter pays principle, which is dominant in corporate ethics, seems to be reaching its limits. It must therefore be supplemented by the other two principles. Second, the normative consequences are discussed: What responsibility for elimination or reparation obligations do global companies have in order to be able to prevent, combat or compensate for human rights violations? In the final part, it is examined what needs to be done at the macro, meso and micro levels of business ethics to put into practice the responsibility to eliminate and redress.

  • Wild Animal Suffering and Laissez-faire Intuition

    Beka Jalagania

    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Bernward Gesang, Chair of Philosophy II

    In his PhD thesis, Beka Jalagania addresses questions concerning the ethics of wild animal suffering. The thesis provides a comprehensive analysis of the view, called the Laissez-faire Intuition, that we are not required to assist wild animals. In contrast to this view, the thesis makes the case for assisting wild animals in their struggle to live lives free from suffering and provides a theoretical ground for an ethically justified intervention in nature.

  • Expression games. The notion of expression in Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Psychology

    Maximilian Philipps

    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Freitag, Chair of Philosophy I

    My dissertation deals with Wittgenstein‘s discussion of the expression of mental states through a speaker’s verbal or nonverbal behavior. The focus on the analysis lies on so-called avowals like “I am in pain.”

    I share the view that Wittgenstein, through his analysis of such sentences, can be seen as a pioneer of psychological expressivism.. Moreover, I argue that key motifs of his later work, like the impossibility of a private language, the rule-following problem, or the phenomenon of aspect perception, can be integrated into an inherently expressivist interpretation of Wittgenstein’s work.

    My main thesis is that Wittgenstein doesn’t see the expression of mental state as a phenomenon that depends on the presence of mental states in the subject’s mind, but rather as one that relies on the presence of an expression game: an intersubjective context in which actions gain their expressive significance, thereby becoming adequate vehicles for expressing mental states.

  • Revision of the concept of work: implications for the concept of unconditional basic income with integration into theories of justice. (working title)

    Alina Plitman

    Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Bernward Gesang, Chair of Philosophy II

    This dissertation project aims to clear the current comprehension of the concept of work in the context of justifying income independent of work performance, also known as unconditional basic income (UBI).
    The concept of work we use today does not describe or explain the modern format of working. This outdated concept makes it impossible to approach such a solution as universal basic income (UBI). Exploring the pairs of terms in several languages, we discover two distinct semantic levels of the concept of work – the toiling and the creating concepts. The phenomenon of work occurs in two areas and two levels – as life process and as social process, on the mental level, and on the physical level, accordingly. The anthropological concept of work by Arendt is not suitable because it considers only the toiling aspect of work. Arendt denies the conscious aspect of work and opts for multiplicity in relation to work instead of plurality. Instead, I suggest the creating concept of work that contains all the necessary components of work, including the freedom concept into work and eliminating the labor suffering from the concept of work. This revisioned concept of work is more suitable for describing the intellectual work, making it possible to consider work as a basic human need. Hence, work is not a mere trait of animal laborans anymore, but a means that can attain fun, satisfaction, and autonomy.
    Moreover, this dissertation studies the justice of the UBI concept. The creating concept of work affects the comprehension of just sources distribution. There are two ways to reflect the possibility of free choice of human activity – as laziness and living at the expense of others or as a manifestation of individual freedom raising as well as economic benefits and social quality of life. I will research how different modern justice theories consider the concept of UBI and support the claim that UBI can improve the distribution of resources and the economic efficiency of the status quo. The purpose of this dissertation is an analysis and adaptation of the revisioned concept of work and its incorporation into current theories of justice (a theory of justice by Rawls and a distributive justice theory by van Parijs).

Completed Projects

Future's Advocates

How can future generations be given the right to vote?

J.H. Lambert: Philosophical Writings

The task of the department Lambert-Edition was the publication of the “Philosophische Schriften” (Philosophical Writings) by Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777)