Key Research Areas

Justification and critique of norms in ethics, law and politics

Research in this key area focuses on the justification and critique of moral, legal and political norms. This is challenging both theoretically and socially.
The main research subject is the justification of decisions concerning what is good, just and correct, in the philosophical discourse within and outside Europe. The generation of theories is based on classical theories and their continuation in present-day ethics, political philosophy and philosophy of law.
The goal here is the advancement of the theoretical basis of ethics with special emphasis on action theory and decision theory, as well as the advancementof basic research into the theory of democracy and ethics of institutions. In the field of applied ethics, the focus is on medical ethics, the ethics of ageing, animal ethics and nature ethics.


Theories of knowledge, of science and of the social world

This key research area studies epistemology and philosophy of science (including philosophy of mathematics and logic) from a historical and systematic perspective. The historical perspective extends from ancient philosophy to Kant and the subsequent history of the reception of those ideas up to the 21st century. In this context, the tradition of the philosophy of science is closely linked with the Vienna Circle and logical empiricism, as well as related approaches. A number of research projects aim at analysing the various forms of knowledge, particularly with regard to their historical, (inter-)cultural, educational, social and technological character. This takes place in the context of history and philosophy of science, the philosophy of Wittgenstein, as well as social epistemology. This key research area also includes studies of social ontology and the phenomenology of social worlds.


Art – bodies – culture

In this key research area, fundamental questions of aesthetics, the philosophy of culture, the philosophy of embodiment and of violence are studied from a historical and systematic perspective. These themes are connected with the classical themes of epistemology and metaphysics in many respects.
The focus is also on problems of subjectivity, intersubjectivity and alterity, conceptions of space and time, languages of the body and of violence, as well as conceptual patterns in the theory of difference, particularly with regard to their political orientation. Again, the historical perspective goes back to antiquity. In this context Kant, German idealism and its reception, as well as a number of traditions of the 20th century and recent research approaches, play a significant role: phenomenology, philosophy of media and technology, philosophy of language, hermeneutics, critical theory, post-structuralism,deconstruction and intercultural philosophy, always complemented by the discourse of post-colonialism, cultural theory and cultural philosophy.


Philosophy and education in a global world

This key research area discusses the fundamental questions and developmental perspectives that have arisen in view of the new challenges of globalisation, as well as social and cultural change. Its theoretical and empirical research, conducted from a systematic and historical perspective, is reflected in international, inter- and transcultural, as well as interdisciplinary networks and cooperation with other universities in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australia. Specific attention is paid to the non-European philosophical traditions.
The focus is on questions and problems of democracy, the public, human rights, social diversity, multiculturalism, the media, migration and mobility, as well as justice in a global context. The interaction between philosophy and education critically reflects on the social mainstreams, and specifically studies traditions of thinking within and outside Europe in order to outline ethical and humanitarian issues under the conditions of a global world.
The framework for this key research area consists of forward-looking approaches that connect different cultures, disciplines and life-worlds and thatcan, at the same time, contribute to their preservation.


Educational spaces

In this key research area, the focus is on the social and cultural contexts of educational processes and their structures with regard to institutions and lifeworlds. Educational spaces are established within formal regulations and institutional limits, as well as through everyday routines and informal rules.
They are characterised by norms and belief systems which both professional and everyday-life actors, more or less uncritically, accept as ‘social facts’, and which influence practical education. In this sense, educational spaces are studied in specific constellations defined by historical and social, institutional, life-world-related, as well as (trans-)national and regional aspects. Research in this area concentrates on a (comparative) analysis of the concrete material, social, conceptual and media structures of educational spaces. In addition to describing and analysing educational spaces in contemporary societies, the research activities in this area extend to the origins and historical development of educational spaces (e.g. teaching or school structures in different social situations), and also the relationships between educational spaces (e.g. processes of coordination in the context of a federalist system of education, the transfer of educational approaches and professional practice between educational spaces).


Educational trajectories and transitions

This key research area examines processes of education over time, and addresses individual and collective educational processes in the context of different social situations that can, in turn, generate difference (social background, gender, immigration, disabilities, etc.). Research in this area relates to educational processes during individual stages of life (childhood, youth and adulthood), as well as institution-defined curricula, with special emphasis on transitions between different educational institutions and stages of education (creche, kindergarten, school, university, working life, (further) training).
Here, educational paths are analysed from the perspective of institutional (time) structures and conditions of transition, as well as from the perspective of subjective experience and individual patterns of action. The empirical research activities in this area are based on theoretical analyses studying the conceptualisation of educational trajectories and its inherent norms, expectations and structures of opportunities (social participation and exclusion).
Finally, questions relating to the political framework (e.g. lifelong learning, permeability) and professional input by educational experts with regard to individual educational careers (in the context of early support, pre-school education, school, university, (further) training and counselling) are also discussed.


Horizons of education

In this key research area, the fundamental theoretical implications of social change on the discipline’s constitution are discussed, and its horizon is therefore explored. The goal here is to make apparent the possibilities and limits of education. In particular, those limits and possibilities are studied that are linked with social and socio-economic prerequisites for formal education, as well as with questions of religion, world-views and cultures. A further goal of this key research area is to transcend existing horizons. To this end, endeavours are made to establish links between the systematic and methodological advancement of the discipline and research in specific fields of application such as teacher education, school and curriculum research (in this context, in close cooperation with the Centre for Teacher Education), adult education, further education andtraining and education using new media. Here, cross-sectional subjects that can help merge existing horizons, and thus open up new horizons, play an important role.