Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2021

Environmental Sciences Bachelor Information
Social Sciences and Humanities
Compulsory
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
701-0729-00LSocial Research Methods Restricted registration - show details
Target group: students of BSc Environmental Sciences
W3 credits2GM. Stauffacher, A. Bearth, O. Ejderyan
AbstractThe aim of this course is to impart methodological principles of social science research and thus to stimulate a critical reflection of social science findings. The course provides an insight into the concrete approach and methods of guideline-based interview techniques and questionnaire research.
ObjectiveStudents are able to
- describe the significance of method-supported procedures in the social sciences.
- explain the basic principles of social-scientific research.
- critically interpret the results of social-scientific research .
- conduct small-scale interviews and surveys via questionnaires.
ContentAlle Teilnehmenden verpflichten sich zur aktiven Mitarbeit in Form von drei Übungen (leitfadengestütztes Interview, Erstellung von Fragebogen, Erhebung und Auswertung von Fragebogen).

Inhaltsübersicht:
(1) Wozu empirische (Sozial-)Forschung?
(2) Der Forschungsablauf im Überblick, verknüpfen von qualitativen und quantitativen Methoden
(3) Leitfadengestützte Interviews: erstellen Leitfaden, Durchführung und Auswertung
(4) Fragebogen: Hypothesen erarbeiten, Fragebogen erstellen, Durchführung, Daten auswerten, und Resultate darstellen
Lecture notesDie Dozierenden arbeiten mit Folien, die als Handout abgegeben werden.
LiteratureZur ergänzenden Begleitlektüre kann folgendes Buch empfohlen werden:
Bryman, A. (2012, 4th edition). Social research methods. New York: Oxford University Press.
851-0712-00LIntroduction to Public Law (French)W2 credits2VY. Nicole
AbstractThe course Public Law focuses on the fundamental concepts of constitutional law and constitutional and statutory principles of administrative law. The course also touches upon selected topics of administrative law, including the legal regulation of land use, zoning and planning, and construction law.
ObjectiveEnseignement des principes du droit, en particulier du droit privé et du droit public. Introduction au droit.
ContentLe cours de droit civil porte notamment sur le droit des obligations (droit des contrats et responsabilité civile) et sur les droits réels (propriété, gages et servitudes).De plus, il est donné un bref aperçu du droit de la procédure et de l’exécution forcée. Le cours de droit public traite du droit constitutionnel et du droit administratif, avec un accent particulier sur le droit des constructions et de l’aménagement du territoire, ainsi que sur le droit de l’environnement.
LiteratureEditions officielles des lois fédérales, en langue française ou italienne, disponibles auprès de la plupart des librairies.

Sont indispensables:
- en hiver: le Code civil et le Code des obligations;
- en été: la Constitution fédérale et la loi fédérale sur l’aménagement du territoire ainsi que la loi fédérale sur la protection de l’environnement.

Sont conseillés:
- Nef, Urs Ch.: Le droit des obligations à l'usage des ingénieurs et des architectes, trad. Bovay, J., éd. Payot, Lausanne 1992
- Scyboz, G. et. Gilliéron, P.-R., éd.: Edition annotée du Code civil et du Code des obligations, Payot, Lausanne 1999
- Boillod, J.-P.: Manuel de droit, éd Slatkine, Genève 1999
- Biasio, G./Foglia, A.: Introduzione ai codici di diritto privato svizzero, ed. Giappichelli, Torino 1999
Prerequisites / NoticeLe cours de droit civil et le cours de droit public sont l'équivalent des cours "Rechtslehre" et "Baurecht" en langue allemande et des exercices y relatifs.

Les examens peuvent se faire en français ou en italien. Le candidat qui désire être interrogé en langue italienne le précisera lors de l'inscription et avertira les examina-teurs par écrit un mois au plus tard avant l'examen.
851-0738-04LEnvironmental Law Restricted registration - show details
Only for Environmental Sciences BSc.

Number of participants limited to 75
W2 credits2VB. Schibli
AbstractEnvironmental law regulates the protection of human beings and their environment, such as animals, plants, habitats, soil, waters and air. It plays an increasing role in relation to public and private projects. The lecture gives an overall view of Swiss enviromental law. Specific subjects will be dealt with in more detail based on case studies and group work.
ObjectiveThe students are able:
- to apply environmental law in a specific case.
- to explain in which cases the basic principles and the particular instruments of environmental law apply.
- to identify the shortcomings of environmental law and the legislative needs in this regard.
- to describe the tasks and competencies of environmental scientists compared to those of lawyers.
Electives
Module Economics
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
751-1101-10LFinances and Accounting System Information W2 credits2GC. Müller
AbstractTo understand accounting and calculation of costs.
ObjectiveAbility to keep accounts and calculate costs
ContentThe course includes the steps of establishing and evaluation of financial accounting, including balance sheet, income statement and double-entry accounting. Furthermore, cash flow statement and financial ratios are discussed. Finally, management accounting including cost accounting and cost-performance analysis are presented. The course includes exercises.
Lecture notesscript in German
LiteratureMeyer, C., 2012, Betriebswirtschaftliches Rechnungswesen, 3. Überarbeitete Auflage, Schulthess, Zürich.
701-0758-00LEcological Economics: Introduction with Focus on Growth CriticsW2 credits2VI. Seidl
AbstractStudents become acquainted with the basics / central questions / analyses of Ecological Economics. Thereby, central will be the topic of economic growth. What are the positions of Ecological Economics in this regard? What are the theories and concepts to found this position in general and in particular economic areas (e.g. resource consumption, efficiency, consumption, labour market, enterprises)?
ObjectiveBecome acquainted with basics and central questions of Ecological Economics (EE): e.g. 'pre-analytic vision', field of discipline, development EE, contributions of involved disciplines such as ecology or political sciences, ecological-economic analysis of topics such as labour market, consumption, money. Critical analysis of growth and learning about approaches to reduce growth pressures.
ContentWhat is Ecological Economics, what are the topics?
Field of the discipline and basics
Resource consumption, its development and measurements
Measurement of economic activity and welfare
Economic growth, growth critics and post-growth society
Consumption, Money, Enterprises, labour market and growth pressures
Starting points for a post-growth society
Lecture notesNo Script. Slides and texts will be provided beforehand.
LiteratureDaly, H. E. / Farley, J. (2004). Ecological Economics. Principles and Applications. Washington, Island Press.

Seidl, I. /Zahrnt A. (2010). Postwachstumsgesellschaft. Konzepte für die Zukunft, Marburg, Metropolis
Seidl, I. /Zahrnt A. (2019). Tätigsein in der Postwachstumsgesellschaft, Marburg, Metropolis

Ausgewählte wissenschaftliche Artikel.
Prerequisites / NoticeParticipation in a lecture on environmental economics or otherwise basic knowledge of economics (e.g. A-Level)
701-0764-00LCrtical Reflection Upon the Economic Growth Paradigm Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 25.

Target groups: Agricultural Sciences (BSc/MSc) and Environmental Sciences (BSc/MSc).
W1 credit1SI. Seidl
AbstractIn this seminar we will read and discuss about three scientific papers which thoroughly and critically deal with economic growth and environmental topics.
ObjectiveEnhanced knowledge on ecological economics, growth critics of ecological economics, energetical-material implications of growth, consumer criticism and growth-critical traditions of thought. Reading and reflection upon scientific textes.
ContentGrowth theory, growth paradigm, growth criticism, energy, entropy, neoclassics versus ecological economics, consumer theories and consumerism.
Prerequisites / NoticeParticipation in course 701-0758-00L Ecological Economics: basics and growth critisism (parallel oder former participation) or very good basic knowledge in ecological economics or environmental economicse
363-0532-00LEconomics of Sustainable DevelopmentW3 credits2VL. Bretschger
AbstractConcepts and indicators of sustainable development, paradigms of weak and strong sustainability;
neoclassical and endogenous growth models;
economic growth in the presence of exhaustible and renewable resources; pollution, environmental policy and growth;
role of substitution and technological progress;
Environmental Kuznets Curve; sustainability policy.
ObjectiveThe aim is to develop an understanding of the implications of sustainable development for the long-run development of economies. It is to be shown to which extent the potential for growth to be sustainable depends on substitution possibilities, technological change and environmental policy.
After successful completion of this course, students are able to
1. understand the causes of long-term economic development
2. analyse the influence of natural resources and pollution on the development of social welfare
3. to appropriately classify the role of politics in the pursuit of sustainability goals.
ContentThe lecture introduces different concepts and paradigms of sustainable development. Building on this foundation and following a general introduction to the modelling of economic growth, conditions for growth to be sustainable in the presence of pollution and scarce natural resources are derived. Special attention is devoted to the scope for substitution and role of technological progress in overcoming resource scarcities. Implications of environmental externalities are regarded with respect to the design of environmental policies.
Concepts and indicators of sustainable development, paradigms of weak and strong sustainability, sustainability optimism vs. pessimism;
introduction to neoclassical and endogenous growth models;
pollution, environmental policy and growth;
role of substitution possibilities and technological progress;
Environmental Kuznets Curve: concept, theory and empirical results;
economic growth in the presence of exhaustible and renewable resources, Hartwick rule, resource saving technological change.
Lecture notesWill be provided successively in the course of the semester.
LiteratureBretschger, F. (1999), Growth Theory and Sustainable Development, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Bretschger, L. (2004), Wachstumstheorie, Oldenbourg, 3. Auflage, München.

Bretschger, L. (2018), Greening Economy, Graying Society, CER-ETH Press, ETH Zurich.

Perman, R., Y. Ma, J. McGilvray and M. Common (2011), Natural Resource and Environmental Economics, Longman , 4th ed., Essex.

Neumayer, E. (2003), Weak and Strong Sustainability, 2nd ed., Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
363-1038-00LSustainability Start-Up Seminar Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 30.
W3 credits2GA. H. Sägesser
AbstractExperts lead participants through a venturing process inspired by Lean and Design Thinking methodologies. The course contains problem identification, idea generation and evaluation, team formation, and the development of one entrepreneurial idea per team. A special focus is put on sustainability, in particular on climate change and biodiversity.
Objective1. Students have experienced and know how to take the first steps towards co-creating a venture and potentially company
2. Students reflect deeply on sustainability issues (with a focus on climate change & biodiversity) and can formulate a problem statement
3. Students believe in their ability to bring change to the world with their own ideas
4. Students are able to apply entrepreneurial practices such as the lean startup approach
5. Students have built a first network and know how to proceed and who to approach in case they would like to take their ventures further.
ContentThis course is aimed at people with a keen interest to address sustainability issues (with a focus on climate change and biodiversity), with a curious mindset, and potentially first ideas for entrepreneurial action!

The seminar consists of a mix of lectures, workshops, individual working sessions, teamwork, and student presentations/pitches. This class is taught by a reflective practitioner of entrepreneurial action for societal transformation. Real-world climate entrepreneurs and experts from the Swiss start-up and sustainability community will be invited to support individual sessions.

All course content is based on latest international entrepreneurship practices.

The seminar starts with an introduction to sustainability (with a special focus on climate change & energy) and entrepreneurship. Students are asked to self-select into an area of their interest in which they will develop entrepreneurial ideas throughout the course.

The first part of the course then focuses on deeply understanding sustainability problems within the area of interest. Through workshops and self-study, students will identify key design challenges, generate ideas, as well as provide systematic and constructive feedback to their peers.

In the second part of the course, students will form teams around their generated ideas. In these teams they will develop a business model and, following the lean start-up process, conduct real-life testing, as well as pivoting of these business models.

In the final part of the course, students present their insights gained from the lean start-up process, as well as pitch their entrepreneurial ideas and business models to an expert jury. The course will conclude with a session that provides students with a network and resources to further pursue their entrepreneurial journey.
Lecture notesAll material will be made available to the participants.
LiteratureNo pre-reading required.

Recommended literature:
Prerequisites / NoticePrerequisite:
Interest in sustainability & entrepreneurship.

Notes:
1. It is not required that participants already have an idea for entrepreneurial action at the beginning of the course.
2. Focus is on entrepreneurial action which can take many forms. Eg. startup, SME, campaign, intrapreneurial action, non-profit, ...
2. No legal entities (e.g. GmbH, Association, AG) need to be founded for this course.

Target participants:
PhD students, Msc students and MAS students from all departments. The number of participants is limited to max.30.

Waiting list:
After subscribing you will be added to the waiting list.
The lecturer will contact you a few weeks before the start of the seminar to confirm your interest and to ensure a good mixture of study backgrounds, only then you're accepted to the course.
Module Political and Social Sciences
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
701-0712-00LUse and Perception of Nature Among Societies Outside Europe
Does not take place this semester.
W2 credits2V
AbstractViews of what we call "nature“" in traditional societies in Africa, Asia and Southern America are presented and discussed. In such subsistence-oriented ethnic groups "nature" is often perceived as being inhabited by gods and spirits. This view is often regarded as being irrational by natural science. But what are the impacts of such religious views on the sustainable use of natural resources?
ObjectiveThis lecture shall give an overview of worldviews of so called traditional societies in Africa, Asia and Southern America. The aim is to understand the way such societies view what we call nature or environment and their strategies to use natural resources. The lecure shall also provide a critical analysis of such processes based on concrete case studies, in which we will discuss problems of sustainable use of natrual resources and participatory processes in the governance of such resources.
ContentDie Studierenden werden dabei mit Vorstellungen und Ideologien von Natur konfrontiert, die sich nicht mit unserer Logik physisch-chemischer und biologischer Abläufe in der "Natur" decken, und die wir somit als "irrational" empfinden. Wir werden uns mit verschiedenen Konzepten aus dem Bereich der Religions-Ethnologie beschäftigen, die sich insbesondere im Bereich Magie, Hexerei und Orakelbefragung mit der "Rationalität" solcher Umweltvorstellungen auseinandersetzen. Seit der Beschäftigung mit der Ökosystemtheorie durch Roy Rappaport erhielt diese "wilde Denken" eine neue Funktion (Rappaport 1971, 1979). Es wurde in Zusammenhang eines gesamten Ökosystems analysiert, zu dessen Erhaltung und zu dessen Fliessgleichgewicht es diene. Diese Sichtweise, obwohl heftig kritisiert, ist von Bedeutung, weil mit der ökologischen Krise man in der industrialisierte Welt Ausschau nach neuen Konzepten hält. Diese werden teilweise in den uns fremden Bildern aussereuropäischer Völker von der "heiligen Natur" gesehen, welche uns als Lehre dienen und zu nachhaltiger Ressourcennutzung führen könnte. Zudem erscheinen die Umwelt-Bilder und Weltsichten dieser Gesellschaften (heute oftmals indigene Völker genannt) auf der praktischen Ebene als gelebter Naturschutz, den es insbesondere für die Konservierung von Biodiversität zu erhalten gilt. Heilige Orte sollen nun auch für den Schutz von beispielsweise Nationalparks oder Biosphärenreservaten dienen. In diesem Zusammenhang ist ein genauer Blick von Nöten, denn Fehlanalysen sind in diesem Bereich fatal und eine unkritische Instrumentalisierung magischer Weltsichten kontraproduktiv. Wo jedoch religiöse Weltsichten der Natur eine im Sinne der Nachhaltigkeit positive Rolle spielen können, ist der Bereich der Institutionen für das Ressourcenmanagement. Dieser Begriff wird hier im Sinne des Neuen Institutionalismus verwendet: Institutionen sind demnach Regeln, Werte und Normen, die das Handeln der Individuen beeinflussen und eine gewisse Sicherheit bezüglich dem erwarteten Verhalten der anderen Individuen einer Gemeinschaft bieten und dabei die sogenannten Transaktionskosten (Informationsbeschaffung bezüglich dem Verhalten anderer Akteure, Überwachung und Sanktionierung) reduzieren (North 1990. Ostrom 1990, Ensminger 1992). Dieser aus der Ökonomie beeinflusste Ansatz weist meines Erachtens interessante Elemente bezüglich der nachhaltigen Nutzung von Ressourcen auf, was sich bei der Nutzung von Kollektivressourcen (Com
Lecture notesZur Veranstaltung gibt es kein Script, aber es wird rechtzeitig ein Ordner mit der relevanten Literatur bereitgestellt. Am Thema Interessierte Studierende können sich bereits in folgenden zwei Büchern ins Thema einlesen:
- Berkes, Fikret. 1999. Sacred Ecology: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resource Managment. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis.
- Haller, Tobias. 2001. Leere Speicher, erodierte Felder und das Bier der Frauen: Umweltanpassung und Krise bei den Ouldeme und Platha in den Mandarabergen Nord-Kameruns. Studien zur Sozialanthropologie. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.
LiteratureBecker, Dustin, C. and Elinor Ostrom,.1995. Human Ecology and Resource Sustainability: The Importance of Institutional Diversity. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst.1995. No. 26:113-33.
Berkes, Fikret. 1999. Sacred Ecology: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Resource Managment. Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis.
Dangwal, Parmesh. 1998. Van Gujjars at Apex of National Park Management. Indigenous Affairs No.4:24-31.
Diener, Paul and Robkin, Eugene E. 1978. Ecology, Evolution, and the Search for Cultural Origins: The Question of Islamic Pig Prohibition. In: Current Anthropology 19, No.3():493-540.
Diener, Paul, Nonini, Donald and Robkin, Eugene E. 1977/78. The Dialectics of the Sacred Cow: Ecological Adaptation versus Political Appropriation in the Origins of Indias Cattle Complex. In: Dialectical Anthropology (Amsterdam) 3: 221-241.
Evans-Pritchard, Edward E. 1978. Hexerei, Magie und Orakel bei den Zande. Frankfurt am Main:Suhrkamp.
Evans-Pritchard, Edward und Mayer Fortes. 1983. Afrikanische politische Systeme, in: Kramer, F. und Siegrist, Ch. eds. Gesellschaften ohne Staat. Frankfurt a. Main:Syndikat: 150-174.
Fairhead, James und Leach, Melissa. 1996. Misreading the African Landscape. Society and ecology in a forest-savanna mosaic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Freed, Stanley A. and Freed, Ruth, S. 1981.Sacred Cows and Water Buffalo in India: The Uses of Ethnography. In. Current Anthropology 22, No.5: 483-502.
Haller, Tobias. 1995.Raub der „Seelenschatten in Nord-Kamerun. Krankheit bei den Ouldeme und Platha in den Mandarabergen“. In: Keller, Frank-Beat (Hg.). Krank warum? Vorstellung der Völker, Heiler und Mediziner, Katalog zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung. Ostfildern: Cantz Verlag. pp.302-306.
Haller, Tobias. 2000. Bodendegradierung und Ernährungskrise bei den Ouldeme und Platha. Umwelt- und Ernährungsprobleme bei zwei Feldbauerngruppen in den Mandarabergen Nord-Kameruns: Eine Folge der Adaptation an Monetarisierung und Wandel traditioneller institutioneller Rahmenbedingungen. In: Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 124 (1999): 335–354.
Haller, Tobias. 2001. Leere Speicher, erodierte Felder und das Bier der Frauen: Umweltanpassung und Krise bei den Ouldeme und Platha in den Mandarabergen Nord-Kameruns. Studien zur Sozialanthropologie. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.
Haller, Tobias. 2002a. „Spiel gegen Risiken in der ‘Natur’“, In: Giordano et al (Hrsg.). Ordnung, Risiko und Gefährdung. Reader des Blockseminars der Schweizerischen
Prerequisites / NoticeDie Veranstaltung beginnt in einem ersten Teil mit einer Reihe von Vorlesungen und wird in einem zweiten Teil mit Lesen und Diskutieren von Texten (Kurzvorträge von den Studierenden) fortgesetzt (nähere Erläuterungen und Programm am Anfang der Veranstaltung).
701-0786-00LMediation in Environmental Planning: Theory and Case Studies.W2 credits2GK. Siegwart
AbstractThis course is intended to demonstrate how environmental decisions can be optimized and conflicts better dealt by using mediation. Case studies will focus on construction of windmills for electricity purpose, use of fracking, sustainable city-planning in the field of former industrial area or the establishment of a birds- or a forest-management plan.
Objective- Develop comprehension of legal and social responses to environmental conflicts
- Recognize the most important participative techniques and their ranges
- Develop concepts for doing and evaluating mediation processes
- Estimate the potential and limitations of cooperative environmental planning
- Train communicative skills (presentation, moderation, discussion design, negotiation), especially by participating at a mediation
ContentTo this end, we will look at the most important techniques of mediation and put them into the context of today's legislation, participation and conflict culture. The potential and limitations of the individual techniques will be discussed using current Swiss and international case studies, namely in the field of windenergy. Students can do conflict analyses, for instance, as part of individual and group analyses and a half-day mediation-simulation, develop technique concepts and train their own communicative and negotiation skills.
Lecture notesA reader will be handed out.
Module Individual Sciences
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
701-0900-00LThe Sustainable Development Goals in ContextW2 credits2GB. Wehrli, O. Kassab
AbstractThe United Nations Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an opportunity for the international community to shape the course of sustainable development. With their range of expertise, universities can develop the science to help achieving the SDGs. The lectures center on sustainability challenges and provide context from academics and societal actors.
Objective1. Students know important dimensions of sustainable development and the discourses in the context of the SDGs
2. Students get an overview how ETH Zurich contributes to sustainable development and the achievement of the SDGs
3. The lecture series enables students to contribute to sustainable development during their studies and research, as graduates on the job market, and as members of the society
4. Writing and reviewing a short blog post trains students to communicate acquired knowledge effectively for a broader audience.
ContentKick-Off: Introduction to the SDGs:
1 – Education, gender and inequality
2 – Health, well-being and demography
3 – Climate change, decarbonization and sustainable industry
4 – Sustainable food, land, water and oceans
5 – Sustainable cities and communities
6 – Digital revolution for sustainable development
Conclusion: Student inputs: Wrap up and synthesis
Lecture notes1-2 short papers will be posted on the Moodle each weak.
LiteratureSelected scientific articles:

Sachs, J. D. (2019). Six Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Sustainability, DOI: Link

Schwan, G. (2019): Sustainable Development Goals: A call for global partnership and cooperation. GAIA 28/2, 73, DOI: Link
Prerequisites / NoticeOpen to advanced Bachelor and all Master level students enrolled at ETH Zurich
Module Humanities
NumberTitleTypeECTSHoursLecturers
701-0791-00LEnvironmental History - Introduction and Overview Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 80.
W2 credits2VM. Gisler
AbstractIntroduction into environmental history as a discipline that ask for the human-nature-relationships from a long-term and spatially defined perspective. By presenting a selection of different topics the lecture provides access to new questions and insights.
ObjectiveIntroduction into environmental history; survey of long-term development of human-nature-interrelations; discussion of selected problems. Improved ability to assess current problems from a historical perspective and to critically interrogate one's own standpoint.
ContentHumans live in and with nature, depend on it, change it permanently: as bio- and geological agents they intervene, reshape, leave prints, improve, reproduce and demonize nature; in short, they’re “doing environment”. Namely in the 20th century, the "era of ecology" (Joachim Radkau) or the age of the “Great Acceleration” (John McNeill), human interventions in their environments have increased exponentially. But nature itself is also constantly changing, adapting, striking back. This leads to a constantly changing interrelation between human and nature.
This interdependence is at the core of this lecture. The introduction into “environmental history” offers an overview of the human-environment-relationship in a long-term perspective. It outlines concepts such as the anthropocene, climate and energy as well as questions of environmental policy and the history of the environmental movements. It is meant to expand the competencies for the assessment of current problems and the critical questioning of one's own point of view.
Lecture notesCourse material is provided in digital form.
LiteratureMcNeill, John R. 2000. Something new under the sun: An environmental history of the twentieth-century world, New York: Norton.

Uekötter, Frank (Ed.) 2010. The turning points of environmental history, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Winiwarter, Verena und Martin Knoll 2007. Umweltgeschichte: Eine Einführung, Köln: Böhlau.
Prerequisites / NoticeStudents are asked to write an exam during the last session
851-0101-01LIntroduction to Practical Philosophy
Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 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.
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