Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2017

GESS Science in Perspective Information
Only the topics listed in this paragraph can be chosen as "GESS Science in Perspective" course.
Further below you will find the "type B courses Reflections about subject specific methods and content" as well as the language courses.

6 ECTS need to be acquired during the BA and 2 ECTS during the MA

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.

These course units are also listed under "Type A", which basically means all students can enroll
Type A: Enhancement of Reflection Competence
Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
851-0609-04LThe Energy Challenge - The Role of Technology, Business and Society Information
Prerequisites: Knowledge in Economics and Environmental Issues is obligatory.
Particularly suitable for students D-BAUG, ITET, MAVT, USYS
W2 credits2VR. Schubert, T. Schmidt, J. Schmitz
AbstractIn recent years, energy security, risks, access and availability are important issues. Strongly redirecting and accelerating technological change on a sustainable low-carbon path is essential. The transformation of current energy systems into sustainable ones is not only a question of technology but also of the goals and influences of important actors like business, politics and society.
ObjectiveIn this course different options of sustainable energy systems like fossile energies, nuclear energy or all sorts of renewable energies are explained and discussed. The students should be able to understand and identify advantages and disadvantages of the different technological options and discuss their relevance in the business as well as in the societal context.
Lecture notesMaterials will be made available on the electronic learning platform:
LiteratureMaterials will be made available on the electronic learning platform:
Prerequisites / NoticeVarious lectures from different disciplines.
851-0636-00LEconomics IIW2 credits2GP. Schellenbauer
AbstractThe course in economics extends over two semesters. The focus during the winter term is on the introduction to economic theory and thought. These considerations provide the fundamental requirements for the analysis of land, habitation and space from an economic perspective in the summer term.
ContentThe course in economics extends over two semesters. The focus during the Fall term is on an introduction to economic thought. These considerations provide the fundamental requirements for the economic analysis of land, housing and urban markets in the following Spring term.

The Fall semester focuses on the economic way of thinking. We shall discover why A. Marshall defined economics as "a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life". The course introduces the student to the "big questions" in economics, such as the concept of rationality and its limits, factors driving supply and demand, the working of markets, the importance of the price system and the reasons why markets may fail.

There are many interactions between economic and social phenomena on the one hand, and the built environment on the other. Our knowledge of the fundamental economic principles will allow us to understand the workings of the housing, land, credit and real estate markets - markets of fundamental importance for the future architect. We consider questions such as: which are the major problems of the land market? Which factors determine the price of land? What are the economic drivers that shape the form of our cities? Which are the primary difficulties in designing a reasonable housing policy.
Finally, the courses discusses the main determinants of real estate investment -- both its risks and its opportunities.
851-0157-48LBehavioral-Environmental Economics and Policy
Does not take place this semester.
Diese Lerneinheit wird nicht mehr angeboten.
W3 credits2Vto be announced
AbstractThe goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the relationship between behavioral economics and environmental policy and address its implication in areas like climate change, sustainable energy consumption, and biodiversity loss. This will involve discussing a number of experimental applications and insights.
ObjectiveThe course provides an overview of behavioral economics and its application to environmentally relevant behaviors. It pays special attention to behavioral-psychological evidence and discusses related experimental laboratory and field evidence for a variety of themes: cooperation and public goods, social motivation (non-monetary incentives, crowding-out), status and conspicuous consumption, risk perception and prospect theory, fairness preferences, heuristics and biases, framing, and impatience and discounting.
ContentThe course will examine alternative models of individual behavior and discusses their implications for environmental policy and agreements. The effectiveness, equity and efficiency of environmental policies depend very much on the underlying model of individual behavior. Only an empirically founded model of individual action and motivation can guarantee the design of adequate environmental policies and environmental agreements. The dominant theory of environmental policy is based on the standard (neoclassical) economic model of rational, self-interested behavior and stable preferences. This tends to favor environmental policy instruments that attempt to influence behavior through price signals. More recently, behavioral economics has generated considerable experimental evidence that individual behavior deviates from full rationality and pure self-interest.
363-0532-00LEconomics of Sustainable Development Information W3 credits2VL. Bretschger
AbstractConcepts and indicators of sustainable development, paradigms of weak and strong sustainability;
neoclassical and endogenous growth models;
pollution, environmental policy and growth;
role of substitution possibilities and technological progress;
Environmental Kuznets Curve: concept, theory and empirical results;
economic growth in the presence of exhaustible and renewable resources.
ObjectiveThe aim is to develop an understanding of the implications of sustainable development for the long-run development of economies. It is to be shown to which extent the potential for growth to be sustainable depends on substitution possibilities, technological change and environmental policy.
ContentThe lecture introduces different concepts and paradigms of sustainable development. Building on this foundation and following a general introduction to the modelling of economic growth, conditions for growth to be sustainable in the presence of pollution and scarce natural resources are derived. Special attention is devoted to the scope for substitution and role of technological progress in overcoming resource scarcities. Implications of environmental externalities are regarded with respect to the design of environmental policies.
Concepts and indicators of sustainable development, paradigms of weak and strong sustainability, sustainability optimism vs. pessimism;
introduction to neoclassical and endogenous growth models;
pollution, environmental policy and growth;
role of substitution possibilities and technological progress;
Environmental Kuznets Curve: concept, theory and empirical results;
economic growth in the presence of exhaustible and renewable resources, Hartwick rule, resource saving technological change.
Lecture notesWill be provided successively in the course of the semester.
LiteratureBretschger, F. (1999), Growth Theory and Sustainable Development, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Bretschger, L. (2004), Wachstumstheorie, Oldenbourg, 3. Auflage, München.

Perman, R., Y. Ma, J. McGilvray and M. Common (2003), Natural Resource and Environmental Economics, Longman , 3d ed., Essex.

Neumayer, E. (2003), Weak and Strong Sustainability, 2nd ed., Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
364-0576-00LAdvanced Sustainability Economics Information
PhD course, open for MSc students
W3 credits2GL. Bretschger, A. Brausmann
AbstractThe course covers current resource and sustainability economics, including ethical foundations of sustainability, intertemporal optimisation in capital-resource economies, sustainable use of non-renewable and renewable resources, pollution dynamics, population growth, and sectoral heterogeneity. A final part is on empirical contributions, e.g. the resource curse, energy prices, and the EKC.
ObjectiveUnderstanding of the current issues and economic methods in sustainability research; ability to solve typical problems like the calculation of the growth rate under environmental restriction with the help of appropriate model equations.
363-0564-00LEntrepreneurial RisksW3 credits2GD. Sornette
Abstract-General introduction to the different dimensions of risks with
emphasis on entrepreneurial, financial and social risks.

-Development of the concepts and tools to understand these risks,
control and master them.

-Decision making and risks; human cooperation and risks
ObjectiveWe live a in complex world with many nonlinear
negative and positive feedbacks. Entrepreneurship is one of
the leading human activity based on innovation to create
new wealth and new social developments. This course will
analyze the risks (upside and downside) associated with
entrepreneurship and more generally human activity
in the firms, in social networks and in society.
The goal is to present what we believe are the key concepts
and the quantitative tools to understand and manage risks.
An emphasis will be on large and extreme risks, known
to control many systems, and which require novel ways
of thinking and of managing. We will examine the questions
of (i) how much one can manage and control these risks,
(ii) how these actions may feedback positively or negatively
and (iii) how to foster human cooperation for the creation
of wealth and social well-being.

Depending on the number of students and of the interest, the exam
will consist in a project, one for each student or in small groups,
focused on the application of the concepts and tools developed in this
class to problems of practical use to the students in their varied fields.
The choice of the subjects will be jointly decided by the
students and the professor.
ContentThis content is not final and is subjected to change
and adaptation during the development of the course
in order to take into account feedbacks from the
students and participants to the course.

1- Risks in the firm and in entrepreneurship
-What is risk? The four levels.
-Conceptual and technical tools
-Introduction to three different concepts of probability
-Useful notions of probability theory
(Frequentist versus Bayesian approach,
the central limit theorem and its generalizations, extreme value theory)
-Where are the risks for firms? Downside and upside
-Diversification and market risks

2-The world of power law risks
-Stable laws
-power laws and beyond
-calculation tools
-scale invariance, fractal and multifractals
-mechanisms for power laws
-Examples in the corporate, financial and social worlds

3-Risks emerging from collective self-organization
-concept of bottom-up self-organization
-bifurcations, theory of catastrophes, phase transitions
-the hierarchical approach to understanding self-organization

4-Measures of risks
-coherent and consistent measures of risks
-origin of risks
-dependence structure of risks
-measures of dependence and of extreme dependences
-introduction to copulas

5-Conceptual and mathematical models of risk processes
-self-excited point processes of economic and financial shocks
-agent-based models applied to collective emergent behavior
in organization of firms and societies and their risks

6-Endogenous versus exogenous origins of crises
-mild crises versus wild catastrophes: black swans and kings
-the dynamics of commercial sales
-the dynamics of Youtube views and internet downloads
-the dynamics of risks in the financial markets
-strategic management and extreme risks

7-Why do markets burst and crash?
-collective behavior, imitation and herding
-humans as social animals and consequence of risks
-bubbles and crashes in human affairs, innovation, new technologies

8-Limits of predictability, of control and of management
-the phenomenon of ``illusion of control''
-the world is a whole: irreducible risks from lack of diversification
-intrinsic limits of predictability
-the concept of pockets of predictability

9-Human-made risks
-political, financial, economics, natural risks
-elements on theories of decision making
-Human cooperation and its lack thereof, mechanisms and design
Lecture notesThe lecture notes will be distributed a the beginning of
each lecture.
LiteratureI will use elements taken from my books

-D. Sornette
Critical Phenomena in Natural Sciences,
Chaos, Fractals, Self-organization and Disorder: Concepts and Tools,
2nd ed. (Springer Series in Synergetics, Heidelberg, 2004)

-Y. Malevergne and D. Sornette
Extreme Financial Risks (From Dependence to Risk Management)
(Springer, Heidelberg, 2006).

-D. Sornette,
Why Stock Markets Crash
(Critical Events in Complex Financial Systems),
(Princeton University Press, 2003)

as well as from a variety of other sources, which will be
indicated to the students during each lecture.
Prerequisites / Notice-A deep curiosity and interest in asking questions and in attempting to
understand and manage the complexity of the corporate, financial
and social world

-quantitative skills in mathematical analysis and algebra
for the modeling part.
363-1039-00LIntroduction to Negotiation Information W3 credits2GM. Ambühl
AbstractThe course combines different lecture formats to provide students with both the theoretical background and the practical appreciation of negotiation. A core element of the course is an introduction to the concept of negotiation engineering.
ObjectiveStudents learn to understand and to identify different negotiation situations, analyze specific cases, and discuss respective negotiation approaches based on important negotiation methods (i.a. Game Theory, Harvard Method).
ContentThe course combines different lecture formats to provide students with both the theoretical background and the practical appreciation of negotiation. A core element is an introduction to the concept of negotiation engineering. The course covers a brief overview of different negotiation approaches, different categories of negotiations, selected negotiation models, as well as in-depth discussions of real-world case studies on international negotiations involving Switzerland. Students learn to deconstruct specific negotiation situations, to differentiate key aspects and to develop and apply a suitable negotiation approach based on important negotiation methods.
LiteratureThe list of relevant references will be distributed in the beginning of the course.
351-0578-00LIntroduction to Economic Policy Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 100.
W2 credits2VH. Mikosch
AbstractFirst approach to the theory of economic policy
ObjectiveFirst approach to the theory of economic policy with a distinction made between the microeconomic approach (regulatory policy, allocation policy, competition policy) and the macroeconomic approach (fiscal policy, monetary policy). Case studies with reference to Switzerland build the bridge from the theory to the practice of economic policy.
ContentDen Studierenden soll ein erster Zugang zur Theorie der Wirtschaftspolitik eröffnet werden, wobei zwischen einem

- mikroökonomischen Zugang (Ordnungspolitik, Allokationspolitik, Wettbewerbspolitik) und einem

- makroökonomischen Zugang (Fiskalpolitik, Geldpolitik)

unterschieden wird.

Anwendungsbeispiele mit einem Bezug zur Schweiz stellen eine Verbindung zwischen der Theorie und der Praxis der Wirtschaftspolitik her.
Lecture notesno
351-0778-00LDiscovering Management
Entry level course in management for BSc, MSc and PHD students at all levels not belonging to D-MTEC.
This course can be complemented with Discovering Management (Excercises) 351-0778-01L.
W3 credits3GB. Clarysse, M. Ambühl, S. Brusoni, L. De Cuyper, E. Fleisch, G. Grote, V. Hoffmann, P. Schönsleben, G. von Krogh, F. von Wangenheim
AbstractDiscovering Management offers an introduction to the field of business management and entrepreneurship for engineers and natural scientists. The module provides an overview of the principles of management, teaches knowledge about management that is highly complementary to the students' technical knowledge, and provides a basis for advancing the knowledge of the various subjects offered at D-MTEC.
ObjectiveDiscovering Management combines in an innovate format a set of lectures and an advanced business game. The learning model for Discovering Management involves 'learning by doing'. The objective is to introduce the students to the relevant topics of the management literature and give them a good introduction in entrepreneurship topics too. The course is a series of lectures on the topics of strategy, innovation, corporate finance, leadership, design thinking and corporate social responsibility. While the 14 different lectures provide the theoretical and conceptual foundations, the experiential learning outcomes result from the interactive business game. The purpose of the business game is to analyse the innovative needs of a large multinational company and develop a business case for the company to grow. This business case is as relevant to someone exploring innovation within an organisation as it is if you are planning to start your own business. By discovering the key aspects of entrepreneurial management, the purpose of the course is to advance students' understanding of factors driving innovation, entrepreneurship, and company success.
ContentDiscovering Management aims to broaden the students' understanding of the principles of business management, emphasizing the interdependence of various topics in the development and management of a firm. The lectures introduce students not only to topics relevant for managing large corporations, but also touch upon the different aspects of starting up your own venture. The lectures will be presented by the respective area specialists at D-MTEC.
The course broadens the view and understanding of technology by linking it with its commercial applications and with society. The lectures are designed to introduce students to topics related to strategy, corporate innovation, leadership, corporate and entrepreneurial finance, value chain analysis, corporate social responsibility, and business model innovation. Practical examples from industry experts will stimulate the students to critically assess these issues. Creative skills will be trained by the business game exercise, a participant-centered learning activity, which provides students with the opportunity to place themselves in the role of Chief Innovation Officer of a large multinational company. As they learn more about the specific case and identify the challenge they are faced with, the students will have to develop an innovative business case for this multinational corporation. Doing so, this exercise will provide an insight into the context of managerial problem-solving and corporate innovation, and enhance the students' appreciation for the complex tasks companies and managers deal with. The business game presents a realistic model of a company and provides a valuable learning platform to integrate the increasingly important development of the skills and competences required to identify entrepreneurial opportunities, analyse the future business environment and successfully respond to it by taking systematic decisions, e.g. critical assessment of technological possibilities.
Prerequisites / NoticeDiscovering Management is designed to suit the needs and expectations of Bachelor students at all levels as well as Master and PhD students not belonging to D-MTEC. By providing an overview of Business Management, this course is an ideal enrichment of the standard curriculum at ETH Zurich.
No prior knowledge of business or economics is required to successfully complete this course.
701-0758-00LEcological Economics: Introduction with Focus on Growth CriticsW2 credits2VI. Seidl
AbstractStudents become acquainted with the basics / central questions / analyses of Ecological Economics. Thereby, central will be the topic of economic growth. What are the positions of Ecological Economics in this regard? What are the theories and concepts to found this position in general and in particular economic areas (e.g. resource consumption, efficiency, consumption, labour market, enterprises)?
ObjectiveBecome acquainted with basics and central questions of Ecological Economics (EE): e.g. 'pre-analytic vision', field of discipline, development EE, contributions of involved disciplines such as ecology or political sciences, ecological-economic analysis of topics such as labour market, consumption, money. Critical analysis of growth and learning about approaches to reduce growth pressures.
ContentWhat is Ecological Economics
Field of the discipline and basics
Resource consumption, its development and measurements
Measurement of economic activity and welfare
Economic growth, growth critics and post-growth society
Consumption, Money, Enterprises, labour market and growth pressures
Starting points for a post-growth society
Lecture notesNo Script. Slides and texts will be provided beforehand.
LiteratureDaly, H. E. / Farley, J. (2004). Ecological Economics. Principles and Applications. Washington, Island Press.

Seidl, I. /Zahrnt A. (2010). Postwachstumsgesellschaft, Marburg, Metropolis.

Ausgewählte wissenschaftliche Artikel.
Prerequisites / NoticeParticipation in a lecture on environmental economics or otherwise basic knowledge of economics (e.g. A-Level)
751-1500-00LDevelopment Economics Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 50.
W2 credits2VI. Günther
AbstractIntroduction into basic theoretical and empirical aspects of economic development. Prescriptive theory of economic policy for poverty reduction and economic growth.
ObjectiveStudents are able to
- critically discuss economic questions in the context of developing countries
- critically discuss policy recommendations for economic development.
Content- measurement of development, poverty and inequality,
- growth theories
- trade and development
- education, health, population and development
- states and institutions
- fiscal,monetary- and exchange rate policies
- economic policies for poverty reduction
- economics of development aid
Lecture notesNone.
LiteratureD. Perkins, S. Radelet, D. Lindauer, S. Block (2012): Economics of Development. 7th Edition, W. W. Norton, New York and London.
Prerequisites / NoticeRequirement: Introduction to economics.
860-0013-00LPolitical Economy
Prerequisite: An introductory course in Economics is required to sign up for this course.
W3 credits2VJ.‑E. Sturm, V. Eichenauer
AbstractThis course takes incentives of politicians into account to form a better understanding of the formation of policy and the role of different political institutions in shaping economic policy.
ObjectiveIn principles courses of economics, the functioning of markets and ways in which the government can shape and influence are discussed. The implicit assumption thereby is that the government will act in the interest of society at large. This course takes incentives of politicians into account to thereby form a better understanding of the formation of policy and the role of different political institutions in shaping economic policy. The course will consist of three blocks. In the first, the basic issues and the tools of modelling political equilibria will be discussed. These will subsequently be used to look into redistributive policies. The focus thereby is on how the interplay between democratic institutions and self-seeking individuals, lobby groups, and parties determines the degree of redistribution in a society. By taking also intertemporal issues into account, the third part allows us to analyse public debt levels, pensions, capital taxation and economic growth.
Prerequisites / NoticeAn introductory course in Economics is required to sign up for this course.
851-0157-75LBehavioral Insights for Environmental and Public Policy Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 24

Particularly suitable for students D-MTEC, D-USYS
W2 credits2VJ. Schmitz, M. Grieder, V. Tiefenbeck
AbstractThe course provides an introduction to behavioral environmental economics, and highlights the importance of understanding human behavior and psychology for tackling current environmental challenges such as climate change, pollution or new technology adoption. We discuss recent scientific evidence on topics such as public goods, risk perception, heuristics and biases, impatience, or "nudging".
ObjectiveAt the end of the course, students understand the importance of economic and psychological forces for determining environmentally relevant decisions of consumers and citizens. Students will learn about the existing scientific evidence regarding the most important behavioral forces and have a good understanding of their consequences for environmental outcomes, and what it means to design effective public policies or marketing strategies that take these behavioral forces into account. Students will also learn the basics of how to use experimental methods to scientifically test the effectiveness of potential policy interventions or marketing strategies targeted at changing people's behavior in a pro-environmental way.
363-1050-00LSimulation of Negotiations: Ukraine-Russia-European Union Relations Restricted registration - show details
Students who wish to register for this course, have to apply no later than February 20, 2017. Please send your application to Sibylle Zürcher:, additionally register in mystudies.
W3 credits3VM. Ambühl, V. Butenko, S. C. Zürcher
AbstractThe Global Studies Institute (University of Geneva) is organizing a simulation seminar on Ukraine-Russia-European Union relations in collaboration with SciencesPo Paris and the Chair of Negotiation and Conflict Management (ETH).
ObjectiveStudents will have the possibility to participate in simulated diplomatic negotiations and to analyse and assess the negotiation logic behind the situation. During the course, they should gain insight in the relations between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union as well as on negotiation techniques in general.

The simulation is conducted in collaboration with experts and students during a two days seminar at the University of Geneva.
ContentIn the lectures, students will be provided with basic information on the relations between Ukraine, Russia and the European Union. The historical, political and socio-economic dimensions of these relations, including the various treaties and existing agreements and their evolution will be analyzed. Students will as well participate in an introduction on negotiation techniques, particularly on the negotiation engineering approach. On the basis of the comprehensive analysis, negotiation scenarii will be developed and subsequently tested during a two-day simulation exercise. The simulation exercise will be prepared with the help of experienced negotiators and experts.

The simulation exercise is intended for Masters degree and PhD students. The course will be taught in English. The project is headed by Prof. Micheline Calmy-Rey, Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva.

More details on the program, timetable, reading lists and performance assessment will be published here (ETH-login needed):

Students from ETH Zurich and Sciences Po will participate in the seminar sessions via video conferencing. They will come to Geneva for the session scheduled on 31 March and for the simulation exercise on 18 and 19 May 2017.

GE = University of Geneva;
VC = Video conference (ETH main building: HG D22)

21 February | 10:15-12:00 | 1. Indroductory session (VC)
28 February | 10:15-12:00 | 2. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (VC)
7 March | 10:15-12:00 | 3. Implementation of the Minsk Protocol: security dimension (VC)
14 March | 10:15-12:00 | 4. Implementation of the Minsk Protocol: humanitarian aspects (VC)
21 March | 10:15-12:00 | 5. Implementation of the Minsk Protocol: political dimension, position of the separatist group (VC)
31 March | 10:30-17:30 | 6. Introduction to negotiation techniques and discussion on the modalities of the simulation and the set-up of the negotiation tables (GE, Uni Dufour, room 408)
4 April | 10:15-12:00 | 7. Implementation of the Minsk Protocol: political dimension, position of the European Union (VC)
11 April | 10:15-12:00 | 8. Preparation of the negotiation tables (VC)
18 May, 10:00-19:30; 19. May, 8:30 - 19:00 | 9. Simulation of negotiations (GE)
23 May 2017 | 10:15-12:00 | 10. Debriefing (VC)

In preparation of the simulation, students will prepare a half-page summary of their negotiation mandate and draft brief statements, if possible in collaboration with the permanent missions of the respective countries. After the simulation, a report and a press release have to be submitted by 23 May 2017.
(Technical note for registration: At this stage all registered students are on the waiting list)
Prerequisites / NoticeEvaluation:

I. Active participation in class (50%)

1. Attend all seminar sessions either in person or via videoconference and actively participate in discussions. If you cannot attend a session, please notify the teaching assistant in advance. In case of excessive absences, credit points will be reduced;
2. Participate in person in the session of 31 March 2017 and in the two-day simulation exercise (18 and 19 May);
3. Do the required readings and regularly read international newspapers (e.g. Financial Times, The New York Times, The Economist, NZZ).

II. Texts to be submitted before, during and after the simulation (50%)

1. Before the simulation: students will prepare a 4-5 pages summary of their negotiating mandate, including a summary of the position of all the parties (group evaluation). The negotiation mandate should not be longer than 5 pages and should be submitted by April 24.
2. During the simulation: students draft and present an introductory and final statement (group evaluation).
3. After the simulation: a report on the negotiation outcomes to the Organization, State or region they represent (3-4 pages) and a press release (max. 1 page) have to be submitted by 23 May 2017. The report and press release are individually evaluated.
851-0101-01LIntroduction to Practical Philosophy
Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractPractical philosophy deals in a descriptive and evaluative way with the realm of the practical, that is, with action, practices, norms of action, and values held by people and societies. Ethics and political philosophy are branches of practical philosophy. This introductory course will treat some of the main questions and introduce students to the thinking of central figures in the field.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course, students (1) will be familiar with still highly influential answers to some of the main questions (see below, section "contents") in practical philosophy. (2) They will be able to better evaluate how convincing these answers are. (3) Students' own thinking concerning normative, e.g., ethical issues, will be more precise, due to a more sophisticated use of key concepts such as good, right, morality, law, freedom, etc.
ContentEthics is an account and instruction of the good, that could be reached by conscious, intentional behaviour (=action). Ethics is an essential part of practical philosophy. Therefore one of those central questions, which will be discussed in the course, is:

1. What is the meaning of words like "good" and "bad", used in ethical language? What is meant by "good", if one says: "Working as a volunteer for the <Red Cross> is good"? Does one mean, that doing so is useful, or that it is altruistic, or that is fair?

Further questions, to be discussed in the course, are:

2. Are moral judgements apt to be justified, e.g. judgments like "Lower taxes for rich foreigners in the <Kanton Zug> are unjust" or "Every person ought to be entitled to leave any religious community"? If so, how far a moral judgment's justification can reach? Is one right in arguing: "It is possible to show the truth of the proposition (a):The emissions of nitrogen dioxide in Zurich is far beyond the permissible limit (80 mg/m3). But it is not possible to verify the proposition (b): In our times, the inequal global distribution of wealth is far beyond the permissible limit. Proposition (a) states an objective fact, whereas (b) expresses a mere subjective evaluation, though that evaluation might be widely spread.

3. What are just laws, and what is the relationship between law and morality?

4. Is freedom of a person, though presupposed by criminal law and morality, nevertheless an illusion?

These questions will be partly discussed with reference to seminal authors within the western philosophical tradition (among else Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant). Contemporary philosophers like Jürgen Habermas, Thomas Nagel, Ernst Tugendhat or Bernard Williams will be included, too.
LiteraturePreparatory Literature:

-Dieter Birnbacher, Analytische Einführung in die Ethik, 2. Aufl. Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag 2006.
- Simon Blackburn, Think. A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, Oxford: University Press (=UP) 1999, chapters 3 und 8.
- Philippa Foot, <Virtues and Vices> in: diess., Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002, and <Morality, Action and Outcome>, in: dies., Moral Dilemmas and Other Topics in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002.
- H.L.A. Hart, <Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals, in: Harvard Law Review 71 (1958), pp. 593-629.
- Detlef Horster, Rechtsphilosophie zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag 2002.
- Robert Kane, <Introduction: The Contours of the Contemporary Free Will Debates>, in: ders., (Hg.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Oxford 2002.
– Thomas Nagel, The Limits of Objectivity, in: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values 1980, Vol I., ed. Sterling McMurrin , Cambridge et al.: UP 1980, pp. 75-139.
- Ulrich Pothast, <Einleitung> in: ders., (Hg.), Seminar: Freies Handeln und Determinismus, Frankfurt/M.: suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft 1978, pp. 7-31.
- Bernard Williams, Morality. An Introduction to Ethics, Cambridge: UP (=Canto Series) 1976.
- Peter Winch, The Idea of a Social Science, 4.Aufl. London 1965, ch. II.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be a mixture of lecture and seminar. For getting credit points, essays on given or freely chosen subjects have to be written.
851-0147-01LPhilosophical Reflections on Physics II
Particularly suitable for students of D-PHYS
W3 credits2GN. Sieroka, M. Hampe, R. Wallny
AbstractAccompanying the lecture course "Physics II", this course critically evaluates topics and approaches from electrodynamics against a broader historical and philosophical/systematic background. Attention will be paid, amongst other things, to the role of experiments, the concept of a field theory and the principle of extremal action.
ObjectiveStudents should be able to critically evaluate different topics and approaches in physics, especially in the context of electrodynamics. They should also be enabled to communicate their insights to people from other disciplines and fields.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course is part of the ETH "Critical Thinking" initiative.
851-0125-45LIntroduction to the Philosophy of ChemistryW3 credits2GR. Prentner
AbstractThis introductory course deals with philosophical issues that arise from reflecting on the theories and practices of chemistry. Historical developments as well as current chemical research shall be considered.
Particularly suited for students interested in the conceptual foundations of chemistry.
ObjectiveStudents should be able to name and critically evaluate different philosophical positions related to chemistry.
851-0125-51LPhilosophy of Technology: Man and Machine
Particularly suitable for students of D-CHAB, D-HEST, D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 credits2GM. Hampe, D. A. Strassberg
AbstractThe lecture gives an overview about the different Man-Machine-Relations since the 16th century. Different modells of machines will be important here: the clockwork, the steam engine and the computer.
ObjectiveOn the one hand modells of machines had a heuristical value in research on man, e.g. in Harvey's discovery of blood circulation in the 17th century or in brain research in the 20th century. On the other hand these modells were always criticised, sometimes polemically, because they are supposedly not adequate for man.
Students should learn about the connections between the history of anthropology and technology and be able at the end of the course to evaluate the critical philosophical arguments that are connected with the metaphor of the machine.
851-0125-64LEnvironmental Philosophy
Does not take place this semester.
W3 credits2Vnot available
AbstractReflecting on Nature as an environment is inescapably entangled with a cultural, political, and technological context. How do concepts such as biodiversity, Anthropocene, or ecosystem services stucture former and ongoing environmental debates in societies? What is the difference between anthropocentric and physiocentric positions? What makes certain images and objects environmental icons?
ObjectiveThe lecture offers an overview on philosophical concepts and problems common in the environmental debate. Using philosophical tools, we will probe the different uses of concepts, their semantic range in terms of historical depth and semantic fields and finally their logical coherence. Another important topic is the philosophical investigation of methods and objects that can be identified in the environmental sciences. Those methods are for instance Life Cycle Assessment or Adaptive Ecosystem Management, technological objects may be a wind engine or a hydropower plant. The latter raise questions of how renewable energies can be assessed and valuated, including the more general issue of how values and norms can be embedded in technological objects. Another important topic is the political and epistemic potential of iconic images, such as the "blue planet" or the "polar bear on floating iceberg". Again another topic focuses on current deliberations about future ways of existence in the age of the Anthropocene and as a consequence the formation of adequate life styles in our societies. This refers to issues in philosophical and social anthropology and the challenge of climate change.
Each lecture is accompanied by a text that should be prepared in advance by students. It serves to identify philosophical questions relevant for each particular topic. The subject of the student's paper (mandatory) is drawn from the discussions revolving around the texts discussed, various forms of text are possible (essay, article, image interpretation, etc.)
851-0125-65LA Sampler of Histories and Philosophies of Mathematics
Particularly suitable for students D-CHAB, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MATH, D-PHYS
W3 credits2VR. Wagner
AbstractThis course will review several case studies from the history of mathematics (Greek geometry, early modern European notions of infinity and 20th century constructive and axiomatic approaches). The case studies will be analyzed from various philosophical perspectives, while rooting them in their historical and cultural contexts.
ObjectiveThe course aims are:
1. To introduce students to the historicity of mathematics
2. To make sense of mathematical practices that appear unreasonable from a contemporary point of view
3. To develop critical reflection concerning the nature of mathematical objects
4. To introduce realist, dialectical, practical and constructivist approaches to the philosophy and history of mathematics
5. To open the students' horizons to the plurality of mathematical cultures and practices
  • First page Previous page Page  2  of  6 Next page Last page     All