Research programme

Scientific discoveries, technologies and the opportunities resulting from them often fundamentally transform the world we live in. In order to understand the ethical problems arising from these changes and to draw conclusions about their desirability or lack thereof, an interdisciplinary and integrative discussion is necessary. The research on "ethics in the sciences and humanities" carried out at the IZEW aims at enabling and establishing such a discussion/discourse.

As part of "ethics in the sciences and humanities" ethical reflection is understood as an issue the researchers themselves have to address. Hence, ethical questions and problems arising within and resulting from scientific work are not delegated to philosophical or theological experts,but are identified, analysed and assessed alongside them. The challenge lies in identifying the moral dimensions of scientific knowledge and techniques and weighing alternative courses of action.

Integrative ethical reflection in scientific research, as is required, for example, in reproductive or transplant medicine, necessitates an awareness of both practices and problems in the relevant disciplines. This is the only way to take into account current questions, adequately assess their significance and to anticipate possible ethical problems in the future.

In assessing scientific developments, ethics must proceed in an interdisciplinary manner. Scientific innovations are influenced by economic, legal and social factors, and all of these areas are in turn shaped and affected by scientific and scholarly work.

As both scientific discoveries and the morals of society change, new questions in moral philosophy, the theory of science and anthropology arise. For this reason, theoretical research on the foundations of ethics as well as specific case studies form an integral part of “ethics in the sciences and humanities."