Research Group Ethics and Applied Ethics


Key Research Areas:

  • Ethics
  • Political Ethics
  • Metaethics
  • Ethics of War
  • Animal Ethics
  • Plant Ethics
  • Ethics of Medicine and Medical Care



This research area focuses on current themes in ethics: i.e. the new debate on “human nature”, the concept of a virtue, neo-Aristotelian theories of the good life and many more. Exploring norms and values that should guide human behavior is one of the main concerns in ethics. We explore classical texts of the history of thought in order to discuss arguments and reasons that have been argued by philosophers as famous as Aristotle and Kant. In this research group, we also try to respond to currently particular pressing themes, as for instance the answers that ethics provides to global challenges. 



Political Ethics

Political Philosophy is a research area that includes debates on national and international justice, on the nation state, on democracy, on the rights and citizens and much more. Political Ethics, instead, focuses on the normative issues involved in the broad debate on political institutions. The Research Group Ethics and Applied Ethics at the Department of Philosophy focuses on climate ethics as a particularly demanding field of international justice, on citizenship and democracy, and on theories of justice on public goods.



While normative and applied ethics focus on what is moral, metaethics examines what morality itself is; it thus examines the status, nature and foundation of moral values, judgements and properties. That includes i.e. investigating what 'good' and 'bad' means, what (ontological) entities we presuppose when doing normative ethics and how norms and values may be justified.


Ethics of War

Just War Theory is a classical field of research which scrutinizes norms that aim at constraining warfare. These norms include criteria for the allowances to go to war in the international arena (Jus ad Bellum), rules of fairness in warfare (Jus in Bello) and - more recently - debates on peace agreements and post-war scenarios. The ethics of war covers the broad field of former "Just War Theory" and adds discussions on further moral implications of war. Our discussions comprise the ethics of killing, and a broader assessment of the "moralities of warfare" included in war.


Animal Ethics

Animal ethics has developed into a broad and diversified field of research. The research group cooperates with the Messerli Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. The research focuses on criteria for evaluating veterinary practices as well as foundational questions of animal ethics.


Plant Ethics

Plant ethics is a recently emerging field in environmental ethics that focuses on plant life. It explores philosophical categories in explaining plant life and concepts of plant welfare. It also discusses criteria for evaluating plant breeding, the generation of biofacts and technological developments in agriculture. Website FWF Plant Ethics


Ethics of Medicine and Medical Care

Research in this field is occupied particularly with ethical questions and problems concerning the patient – physician / nurse relationship. In this context, specific philosophical topics (e.g. the concept of autonomy) are approached, as well as sociopolitical issues (e.g. assisted suicide). The focus here is on questions at the end of life. Furthermore, beyond these topics of ethics in medicine and medical care, the concepts of “age” and “ageing” are investigated in this research area.