Key Research Areas

(according to the University of Vienna 2028 Development Plan, p. 119–122)


Justification and critique of norms in ethics, religion, law and politics

Research in this key area focuses on the justification and critique of moral, religious, legal and political norms, which is challenging in both theoretical and social terms. The main research subject is the justification of decisions concerning what is good, just and right in the philosophical discourse both within and outside Europe. The generation of theories is based on classical and modern theories and their continuation in present-day ethics, political philosophy, religious philosophy, legal philosophy and social philosophy. The goals here are the advancement of the theoretical basis of ethics, with special emphasis on action theory and decision theory, the advancement of basic research into the theory of democracy and ethics of institutions, as well as research in the areas of philosophy and economics. The focus of applied ethics is on systematic questions particularly with regard to medical ethics, the ethics of ageing, animal ethics and environmental ethics, as well as ethical and political digitalisation.

Research in the area of religious philosophy focuses on the relationship between religion and science, religion and social transformation, and religion and violence. In addition, the questions studied in this key research area include the significance of philosophy and ethics for the 120 political,  cultural and social discourse, as well as forms, methods and contents of the teaching of philosophy and ethics at upper secondary schools.


Theories of knowledge, of science and of the social world

This key research area studies epistemology and the philosophy of natural and social sciences as well as of cultural studies, the philosophy of mathematics and logic, and also social ontology, 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, political and technological character; for instance,  with regard to the history and philosophy of science, cognitive science, the philosophy of Wittgenstein, the philosophy of social robotics (philosophical analysis of the interaction with and between robots), as well as social epistemology.

Research into social ontology and the phenomenology of social worlds mainly focuses on the question of the structure, establishment and status of groups, organisations, social roles, conflict and  cooperation.


Mind – body – art – culture

This key research area contributes to the diversity and plurality of research on the one hand and to academic interaction and productive cooperation on the other. What has usually been regarded as separate in view of the classical categories of philosophy is linked and investigated in a new way. Fundamental questions that examine both contemporary and historical perspectives with regard to their mutual sustainability are discussed in a wide range of subjects ranging from the philosophy of  mind, of language, of media and technology, to aesthetics and philosophy of culture. The challenge for philosophical research is to develop interdisciplinary projects that link the different areas of philosophy and other disciplines in order to generate questions and methods in a new way.

New research links open up

(1) innovative lines of investigation in the areas of phenomenology, psychiatry, philosophy of science  and intercultural philosophy, to examine themes such as intentionality, perception, senses and emotions;
(2) questions of subjectivity, intersubjectivity and alterity, which have proved to be more resistant than has been assumed so far (e.g. body and language, violence, the relationships between theories of difference and political orientation);
(3) an experimental research area based on the study of aesthetics, phenomenology, sensibility and arts.


Philosophical and pedagogical approaches to diversity and global development

This key research area discusses the fundamental questions and development 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 in cooperation with other universities in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australia. Specific attention is paid to the traditions of philosophy outside Europe, as well as to questions of educational development research, particularly with the countries of the global South. The focus is on questions and problems of democracy, the public, human rights, religion, 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 global developments. The framework for this key research area consists of forward-looking approaches that connect different cultures, disciplines and lifeworlds and that can, at the same time, contribute to their preservation.


Education in schools and in society

The research activities in this area relate to the theory, practice and practical implementation of institutional teaching and learning, school education and socialisation, media education and the corresponding questions of profession and professionalisation research in educational systems. This also extends to the areas of social work, adult education, media education, preschool education, psychotherapy and counselling.

This key research area focuses on the fundamental aspects of the discipline, for instance with regard to research into the consequences that social transformation has for the self-conception of education, the addressing of educational questions and the relationship between educational research and educational theory. In addition, empirical questions are examined against the background of a  systematic view of the problem horizon. Another objective is to establish research on school and education as a discipline that is firmly grounded in educational theory and based on historical and comparative knowledge, and which places the focus on the consequences that the resulting  transformation of school and education will have for stakeholders. This requires both basic research (for instance, on historical, social and media-related forms of change) and new empirical studies in which global, national and subnational processes are taken into account. In this research area, as in the other research areas, a great variety of methods are often combined. Finally, the methods and methodologies, their further development, justification and links are also examined.

In this research area, as in the other research areas, a great variety of methods are often combined. Finally, the methods and methodologies, their further development, justification and links are also examined.


Diversity and inclusion

The approaches to education and development studied in this key research area focus on the rights of vulnerable and marginalised persons, particularly disabled people. Here, the practical aim of research is to help them participate in all spheres of life and to bring about structural changes in institutions, as well as to endeavour to take into account the diverse situations and needs of all people. This is done with reference to different theoretical traditions, for instance disability studies and psychoanalysis. This includes research into diversity in educational processes, for instance due to disability, social background, social inequality, gender and migration background, including the experience of flight (‘forced migration’).

In particular, the Faculty initiates academic activities and encourages structural developments aimed at implementing the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the educational system. It thus contributes to the teaching of general educational fundamentals.


Educational processes: biographical and historical perspectives

This key research area examines education as a process of development over time and focuses on the ways in which processes of education, socialisation and learning are structured in the course of life and addressed by the educational system, taking into account the aspects of social structures, the construction of these processes through culture and media, as well as subjective attitudes and approaches. In this context, the transition between different stages of life is examined at several levels: with regard to the transition between different educational institutions, from preschool education to school, university and eventually to working life and family life, further education and education in old age; with regard to individual biographical processes of mastering these transitions, and finally with regard  to challenges for educational practice.

Following international discourses of research into transitions, theoretical approaches to education (biography research, educational theories, psychoanalytical education, institutional analysis, etc.) are linked with empirical studies. This research area contributes to the current academic discourse on education and transition, and also introduces new approaches to the professionalisation of the practice of education (assistance and advice for transition stages, services for special problems and problem groups, transition management of institutions, etc.). And it is relevant not least in view of new educational approaches (e.g. lifelong learning and the permeability of educational institutions).