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Institute of Christian Social Ethics and Social Sciences

Christian Social Ethics (CSE) resp. Christian Social Sciences analyses and evaluates the ethical quality of the community, of social systems and of the statutory framework both in the constitutional state and in a global view. Based on the normative standards of the bible on the one hand and on the ethical reflections of the Judeo-Christian tradition on the other hand, CSE deals with contemporary challenges concerning socio-economic inequalities, racism and sexism, marginalization and exclusion (in particular of people with handicap/disability), migration etc. Since the Second Vatican Council – wich is a very important reference point and benchmark for contemporary Christian Social Ethics – CSE often is understood as a special kind of liberal political philosophy connecting religious ethical traditions with social policies within the framework of political liberalism. Thus, CSE is informed by both social theory (analysis of class, race theory, gender studies, theories of social systems etc.) and political philosophy.

Beyond that, religion and modernity resp. the debate on secularization is one of the main areas of research at the institute. Just about fifty years ago, in its declaration on religious freedom at the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church programmatically dispensed with political coercion as a means of enforcing its claim to truth. This declaration to dispense with coercion in Dignitatis humanae is an act of self-imposed restriction with regard to religious claims to truth that is exceptional in the history of religions. It is still extremely difficult to explain even today how such a traditional institution as the Catholic Church could have altered its position so fundamentally – but it may be a pathbreaking example for the possibility of the modernization of religious traditions and therefore for the continuity of religion in pluralistic civil societies and secular states.

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