Lutz Wingert: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

Name Prof. em. Dr. Lutz Wingert
FieldPhilosophy, Practical Philosophy in particular
Professur für Philosophie
ETH Zürich, RZ F 2
Clausiusstrasse 59
8092 Zürich
DepartmentHumanities, Social and Political Sciences
RelationshipProfessor emeritus

851-0100-00LWhat Is Truth? Philosophical Conceptions of a Crucial Notion3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractTruths are strange entities. (1) they depend on us. For it is a sentence or a belief of human creatures which can be true or false. (2)Truths are nothing like a modeling clay in our hands. It’s not up to us whether our beliefs are true or false. How do (1)and(2) go together? In dealing with this question we will investigate the relation between the concepts of truth, facts, and objectivity.(396Z.)
ObjectiveThe attentive participant will probably achieve the following:

1. an acquaintance with influential philosophical answers to the question how to understand the concept of truth ( as correspondence between belief and fact; as coherence between beliefs and experiences; as that belief, that survives all challenges);

2. a deeper understanding of the relation between truth and facts;

3. a knowledge of arguments backing the thesis that objectivity, understood as an attitude of X, needs an aiming of X at truths without commiting X to the claim that one is infallible like the catholic pope.

Perhaps (dependent on available time):

4. overcomig the prejudice that we have facts and truth on the one side, and merely valuations and subjective standpoints on the other side.
Literature1. Thomas Grundmann, Philosophische Wahrheitstheorien, Stuttgart: Reclam 2019.

2. Bertrand Russell, Problems of Philosophy, Buffallo: Prometheus Books 1988, ch. 12: „Truth and Falsehood“.

3. Bede Rundle, Facts, London: Duckworth 1993, ch. 1: „Facts“.

4. Oliver Schlaudt, Was ist empirische Wahrheit?, Frankfurt/M.: Klostermann 2014, Kap. 6: „Wahrheit und Praxis“.

5. Frank Hoffmann, Die Metaphysik der Tatsachen, Paderborn: Mentis 2008, Kap. 1: Wahrheit; Kap. 5: Tatsachen.

6. Richard Evans, Facts in History, in: ders., In Defence of History, London: Granta Books 1997.

7. Crispin Wright, , Truth: A Traditional Debate Revisited, in: Smon Blackburn/Keith Simmons (eds.), Truth, Oxford 1999.

8. John Dupré, Tatsachen und Werte, in: Gerhard Schurz/Martin Carrier(Hg.), Werte in den Wissenschaften, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2013.
851-0101-01LIntroduction to Practical Philosophy
Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-MATL
3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractPractical philosophy deals in a descriptive and evaluative way with the realm of the practical, that is, with action, practices, norms of action, and values held by people and societies. Ethics and political philosophy are branches of practical philosophy. This introductory course will treat some of the main questions and introduce students to the thinking of central figures in the field.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course, students (1) will be familiar with still highly influential answers to some of the main questions (see below, section "contents") in practical philosophy. (2) They will be able to better evaluate how convincing these answers are. (3) Students' own thinking concerning normative, e.g., ethical issues, will be more precise, due to a more sophisticated use of key concepts such as good, right, morality, law, freedom, etc.
ContentEthics is an account and instruction of the good, that could be reached by conscious, intentional behaviour (=action). Ethics is an essential part of practical philosophy. Therefore one of those central questions, which will be discussed in the course, is:

1. What is the meaning of words like "good" and "bad", used in ethical language? What is meant by "good", if one says: "Working as a volunteer for the <Red Cross> is good"? Does one mean, that doing so is useful, or that it is altruistic, or that is fair?

Further questions, to be discussed in the course, are:

2. Are moral judgements apt to be justified, e.g. judgments like "Lower taxes for rich foreigners in the <Kanton Zug> are unjust" or "Every person ought to be entitled to leave any religious community"? If so, how far a moral judgment's justification can reach? Is one right in arguing: "It is possible to show the truth of the proposition (a):The emissions of nitrogen dioxide in Zurich is far beyond the permissible limit (80 mg/m3). But it is not possible to verify the proposition (b): In our times, the inequal global distribution of wealth is far beyond the permissible limit. Proposition (a) states an objective fact, whereas (b) expresses a mere subjective evaluation, though that evaluation might be widely spread.

3. What are just laws, and what is the relationship between law and morality?

4. Is freedom of a person, though presupposed by criminal law and morality, nevertheless an illusion?

These questions will be partly discussed with reference to seminal authors within the western philosophical tradition (among else Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant). Contemporary philosophers like Jürgen Habermas, Thomas Nagel, Ernst Tugendhat or Bernard Williams will be included, too.
LiteraturePreparatory Literature:

-Dieter Birnbacher, Analytische Einführung in die Ethik, 2. Aufl. Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag 2006.
- Simon Blackburn, Think. A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, Oxford: University Press (=UP) 1999, chapters 3 und 8.
- Philippa Foot, <Virtues and Vices> in: diess., Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002, and <Morality, Action and Outcome>, in: dies., Moral Dilemmas and Other Topics in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002.
- H.L.A. Hart, <Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals, in: Harvard Law Review 71 (1958), pp. 593-629.
- Detlef Horster, Rechtsphilosophie zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag 2002.
- Robert Kane, <Introduction: The Contours of the Contemporary Free Will Debates>, in: ders., (Hg.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Oxford 2002.
– Thomas Nagel, The Limits of Objectivity, in: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values 1980, Vol I., ed. Sterling McMurrin , Cambridge et al.: UP 1980, pp. 75-139.
- Ulrich Pothast, <Einleitung> in: ders., (Hg.), Seminar: Freies Handeln und Determinismus, Frankfurt/M.: suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft 1978, pp. 7-31.
- Bernard Williams, Morality. An Introduction to Ethics, Cambridge: UP (=Canto Series) 1976.
- Peter Winch, The Idea of a Social Science, 4.Aufl. London 1965, ch. II.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be a mixture of lecture and seminar. For getting credit points, essays on given or freely chosen subjects have to be written.
862-0004-10LResearch Colloquium Philosophy for Master Students and PhD (FS 2020) Restricted registration - show details
For MAGPW and PhD students of D-GESS only.
Personal registration required to Prof. Wingert.
2 credits1KL. Wingert, M. Hampe, R. Wagner
AbstractPh.D. students, post docs, members of staff, and senior colleagues from other philosophy departments will report on their work in progress. Furthermore, promissing new philosophical articles and parts of new philosophical books will be studied.
ObjectiveIdeas and arguments dealing with systematic problems especially in epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of mind will be scrutinized and elaborated.