Practical philosophy studies human action and aims to provide a tenable account on the presuppositions and basic principles of moral action. How can they be properly clarified and soundly justified? Just as there are many dimensions of human action, practical philosophy itself covers a multitude of branches. Besides ethics, there is e.g. philosophy of technology, philosophy of law, philosophy of economics, political philosophy, and philosophy of history. Our department puts special emphasis on ethics, both in research and teaching, which is reflected by its designation as “Department of Practical Philosophy / Ethics”
In our time, ethics is increasingly important. Ethical reflection responds to crises, in which, -hitherto- unquestioned moral beliefs have lost their certainty and are questioned, or new modes and possibilities of action occur. This is primarily the case regarding advances in the (natural) sciences and the development and application of new technologies. New possibilities like GMO foods, the production of sperm-cells and ovum from stem-cells, and “man-machine” or “man-system” interfaces have led to a series of new and urgent questions. Further crucial challenges are connected to environmental protection, international security, and the global fight against poverty. In fact, all of these phenomena require the reflection of practical philosophy.
Such a reflection does not only ponder consequences of these modes of action. More importantly, ethics engages methodically the presuppositions of these modes of action, aiming to clarify and scrutinize the guiding principles as well as their underlying reasoning.
Undoubtedly, practical philosophy is vital in the scientific community today. Philosophy’s task is to promote and moderate interdisciplinary dialogue in order to create “orientational knowledge”, and to establish normative perspectives on matters in question. Furthermore, philosophy plays a crucial role in public discourse and in contributing to a deeper understanding of topical issues. The chair of Practical Philosophy and Ethics at the KU Linz thus helps foster this dialogue among the Universities of Linz, Austria and beyond. The chair also appeals to society at large and integrates the general public in academic discourse.