Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2021

GESS Science in Perspective Information
Only the courses listed below will be recognized as "GESS Science in Perspective" courses.

Further below you will find courses under the category "Type B courses Reflections about subject specific methods and content" as well as the language courses.

During the Bachelor’s degree Students should acquire at least 6 ECTS and during the Master’s degree 2 ECTS.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
Type A: Enhancement of Reflection Competence
Suitable for all students.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
851-0348-00LThe Italian Nation from Risorgimento to Fascism: Images, Symbols, StructuresW3 credits2VA. M. Banti
AbstractThe course will examine the process of formation of a national-patriotic movement in the Italy of the Risorgimento, and then move on to investigate the methods of "nationalization of the masses" in liberal (1861-1922) and fascist (1922-1945) Italy.
ObjectiveI will pay particular attention to the narratives and symbols that give life to the idea of nation, guided by these questions: is there a transformation of the ethical and symbolic materials that structure the national-patriotic discourse from the nineteenth century to the fall of fascism? And what legacy has all this left to Italy today?
ContentThe course will examine the process of formation of a national-patriotic movement in the Italy of the Risorgimento, and then move on to investigate the methods of "nationalization of the masses" in liberal (1861-1922) and fascist (1922-1945) Italy. I will pay particular attention to the narratives and symbols that give life to the idea of nation, guided by these questions: is there a transformation of the ethical and symbolic materials that structure the national-patriotic discourse from the nineteenth century to the fall of fascism? And what legacy has all this left to Italy today?
851-0297-00LManipulation in Literature and Cultural HistoryW3 credits2VS. S. Leuenberger
AbstractThis lecture focuses on the manipulation and control of individuals and the masses. The power of manipulation is based on subtle use of persuasive linguistic elements and knowledge of the desires and fears of the intended audience. In addition to a theoretical overview, the lecture concentrates on the literary and discursive texts that dispute the control of protagonists.
ObjectiveStudents will learn about manipulation as a linguistic and narrative phenomenon steeped in myth and classical rhetoric. Against the backdrop of cultural-historical developments, particularly with regard to major changes in media technology, we will examine how the reach of manipulation was extended from the individual to the masses. Students will be able to refine their critical discourse analysis skills and interdisciplinary abilities by studying texts from literature, politics, sociology, philosophy and psychoanalysis which reflect this shift in emphasis.
ContentSince the dawn of time mankind has tried to exert influence over others through the utilisation of certain techniques: initially for self-preservation – for example the interpretation of Sigmund Freud in Totem und Tabu. Later, desire became the driving force – centre stage: the desire for pleasure, power and control. Manipulation manifests itself in the form of characters and words, it is an authentically linguistic occurrence: classical antiquity, with the rhetoric, develops a system of verbal power of persuasion and, already then, questions were being raised in literary and discursive texts about how people could, or even should, manipulate. The exertion of influence and its impact will be clearly described, propagated, commented upon, criticised and ironised.
In contrast to oppressive overpowering, the power of manipulation (in Latin, manus hand, plere fill) is on the one hand, based on the subtle use of persuasive linguistic elements – it is always a (literary) discourse, too – and on the other, on knowing precisely what the fantasies, desires and fears of the manipulated are. The discourse of manipulation has its beginnings in the age of sophists and their belief in an omnipotence of language and rhetoric. It underwent further transformation under political and psychological signs in the early modern period through Giordano Bruno and Niccolò Machiavelli and culminated in the 20th century in a critique of the deception strategies of the “culture industry” (T.W Adorno) and “psychotechnology” (B. Stiegler) in global capitalism. Nowadays social media is the “radicalisation machine” (J. Ebner) that present new challenges for society. Written in the 19th century, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion already gave indications of how present-day conspiracy theorists would manipulate their audience, and its impact can still be felt today. Since manipulation is a linguistic, narrative and also literary phenomenon, the central theme of the lecture is how in literature itself this often politically controversial and manipulative behaviour is picked up and reflected through poetry: such as in Tristan from Gottfried von Strassburg, Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, Friedrich Schiller’s Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua or Heinrich von Kleist’s Der zerbrochne Krug, the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Mann (Mario und der Zauberer) and, most recently in Eckhart Nickel’s novel, Hysteria.
851-0340-00LWriting Technology: Cyborgs, Cybernetics, and Translating MachinesW3 credits2VP. Gerard
AbstractIn this course we will examine the two sides of writing technology. On the one hand, we will direct our attention to that most conspicuous writing technology of our world: the digital writing of modern computers.
ObjectiveOn the other hand, we will consider a set of fictional works that imagine the future of technology in writing. More profoundly, however, we will explore the nature and limits of the being who both writes and is written by these technologies, the being we used to call human but which, if we follow the reasoning of Donna Haraway, long ago became an organic-mechanical hybrid—a cyborg.
ContentIn this course students will familiarize themselves with ideas central to both the modern study of literature and the historical development of information technologies. Through a mixture of literary and non-literary texts, we will examine notions like “code,” “medium,” and “translation” as concepts, metaphors, and formal practices. Our readings will range from the early work on cybernetics by Norbert Wiener, Alain Turing, and Claude Shannon to texts on media theory by Marshall McLuhan and Friedrich Kittler to classic science fiction novels by Philip K. Dick and Samuel R. Delaney. To give students a sense of the consequences of information theory for literary studies, and to introduce the historical links between communication technology, translation, and Global English, we will compare Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Gold Bug” with its translation into BASIC-English, a “universal” language composed of 850 English words selected according to statistical principles. Finally, we will consider the experimental literary form of Samuel Beckett’s Watt, a novel whose prose attains a degree of algorithmic formalization that brings English, as Hugh Kenner once said, “close to the language of digital computers.”
LiteratureNorbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings
Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence
Claude Shannon, “The Mathematical Theory of Communication”

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media
Friedrich Kittler, Literature, Media, Information Systems
Donna Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Samuel R. Delaney, Babel-17
Edgar Allen Poe, “The Gold Bug” / “The Gold Insect”
Samuel Beckett, Watt
851-0303-00LEconomy and LiteratureW3 credits2SA. Kilcher, C. Weidmann
AbstractEconomics and literature are closely related: Literature does not only deal with economic conditions, but follows economic principles on a poetological level. Conversely, the economic knowledge production draws on its poetology. In the seminar, we will look at how a «rhetoric of economics» connects the poetological with methods of natural and social sciences.
Objective- Economic theories from the point of view of cultural studies and sciences
- Poetology from an economic perspective
- Basic literary texts of the modern age
- Poetology of Knowledge
ContentAs different as they may appear at first glance, economy and literature are deeply intertwined. In general, the economic - from the drama of the 18th century (Nathan the Wise, Faust) to the modern novel (Emma Bovary, Oliver Twist, Alice in Wonderland, Buddenbrooks) to the science fiction of the 20th century where technological invention is always organized around economic structures of innovation - is a structural motif that addresses both social, technological and poetological conditions. But literature and economics are, more fundamentally, structurally analogous in many respects: Both are described by scientific disciplines that can hardly be separated from their object of investigation and tend to appropriate methods of other sciences, both deal with issues of resource allocation and contingency management. Money and signs work in the same way, in that (both) their values are neither just real (natural) nor merely simulated (fictitious), but are negotiated in complex social processes. In the seminar, this connection is to be tackled from several angles: on the one hand, with a view on economic motives in literature and their principles of allocation, on the other hand, on the economic prerequisites for writing, and conversely, with regard to the importance of literature for economic argumentation and knowledge production at large (rhetoric of economics). This relationship will prove to be exemplary of how scientific methods (e. g. Econometrics, simulation), the rhetorics at heart of natural and social sciences (e. g. rational agent model, statistics), and historical readings (e. g. economic history) make use of the poetological whenever there is a need to unveil a ‘concealed’ reality, e.g. nature that first has to be understood.
363-0532-00LEconomics of Sustainable DevelopmentW3 credits2VL. Bretschger
AbstractConcepts and indicators of sustainable development, paradigms of weak and strong sustainability;
neoclassical and endogenous growth models;
economic growth in the presence of exhaustible and renewable resources; pollution, environmental policy and growth;
role of substitution and technological progress;
Environmental Kuznets Curve; sustainability policy.
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.
After successful completion of this course, students are able to
1. understand the causes of long-term economic development
2. analyse the influence of natural resources and pollution on the development of social welfare
3. to appropriately classify the role of politics in the pursuit of sustainability goals.
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.

Bretschger, L. (2018), Greening Economy, Graying Society, CER-ETH Press, ETH Zurich.

Perman, R., Y. Ma, J. McGilvray and M. Common (2011), Natural Resource and Environmental Economics, Longman , 4th ed., Essex.

Neumayer, E. (2003), Weak and Strong Sustainability, 2nd ed., Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
363-0564-00LEntrepreneurial RisksW3 credits2GD. Sornette
AbstractDimensions of risks with emphasis on entrepreneurial, financial and social risks.

What young entrepreneurs need to know from start-up creation to investment in innovation.

Perspectives on the future of innovation and how to better invent and create.

How to innovate and scale up and work with China.

Dynamical risk management and learning from the failure of others.
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.

The exam will be in the format of multiple choice questions.

Lecture 1 (19/02): Risks (and opportunities) in the economic, entrepreneurial and social spheres
(D. Sornette)


Lecture 2 (26/02): Setting the landscape on entrepreneurship and private investment
(P. Cauwels)

Lecture 3 (04/03 and 11/03): Corporate finance
(P. Cauwels)

Lecture 4 (18/03): Legal, governance and management
(P. Cauwels)

Lecture 5 (25/03): Investors in the innovation economy
(P. Cauwels)


Lecture 6 (01/04): Historical perspective
(P. Cauwels)

Lecture 7 (08/04): The logistic equation of growth and saturation
(D. Sornette)

Lecture 8 (22/04): Future perspective
(P. Cauwels)

Lecture 9 (29/04): The fair reward problem, the illusion of success and how to solve it
(P. Cauwels)

“if China succeeds, the world succeeds; if China fails, the world fails” (D. Sornette).

Lecture 10 (06/05): The macro status in China and the potential opportunity and risks for the world
(K. Wu)

Lecture 11 (13/05): The collision of the two opposite mindsets: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in China and Switzerland
(K. Wu)


Lecture 12 (20/05): Principles of Risk Management for entrepreneurship
(D. Sornette)

Lecture 13 (27/05): The biology of risks and war principles applied to management
(D. Sornette)
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 NegotiationW3 credits2GM. Ambühl
AbstractThe course introduces students to the concepts, theories, and strategies of negotiation and is enriched with an extensive exploration of real-life case-study examples.
ObjectiveThe objective of the course is to teach students to recognize, understand, and approach different negotiation situations, by relying on a range of primarily quantitative and some qualitative analytical tools.
ContentWe all negotiate on a daily basis – on a personal level with friends, family, and service providers, on a professional level with employers and clients, among others. Additionally, negotiations are constantly unfolding across various issues at the political level, from solving armed conflicts to negotiating trade and market access deals.

The course aims to provide students with a toolbox of analytical methods that can be used to identify and disentangle negotiation situations, as well as serve as a reference point to guide action in practice. The applicability of these analytical methods is illustrated through examples of negotiation situations from international politics and business.

The theoretical part of the course covers diverse perspectives on negotiation: with a key focus on game theory, but also covering Harvard principles of negotiation, as well as the negotiation engineering approach developed by Prof. Ambühl at ETH Zurich. The course also dedicates some time to focus on conflict management as a specific category of negotiation situations and briefly introduces students to the social aspects of negotiation, based on the insights from psychology and behavioral economics.

The empirical part of the course draws on case-studies from the realm of international politics and business, including examples from Prof. Ambühl’s work as a career diplomat. Every year, the course also hosts two guest lecturers – representatives from politics or business leaders, who share practical experience on negotiations from their careers.
LiteratureThe list of relevant references will be distributed in the beginning of the course.
364-0576-00LAdvanced Sustainability Economics Information
PhD course, open for MSc students
W3 credits3GL. Bretschger, A. Pattakou
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.
351-0578-00LIntroduction to Economic Policy Restricted registration - show details W2 credits2VH. Mikosch
AbstractFirst approach to the theory of economic policy.
ObjectiveFirst approach to the theory of economic policy.
ContentWirtschaftspolitik ist die Gesamtheit aller Massnahmen von staatlichen Institutionen mit denen das Wirtschaftsgeschehen geregelt und gestaltet wird. Die Vorlesung bietet einen ersten Zugang zur Theorie der Wirtschaftspolitik.

Gliederung der Vorlesung:

1.) Wohlfahrtsökonomische Grundlagen: Wohlfahrtsfunktion, Pareto-Optimalität, Wirtschaftspolitik als Mittel-Zweck-Analyse u.a.

2.) Wirtschaftsordnungen: Geplante und ungeplante Ordnung
3.) Wettbewerb und Effizienz: Hauptsätze der Wohlfahrtsökonomik, Effizienz von Wettbewerbsmärkten
4.) Wettbewerbspolitik: Sicherstellung einer wettbewerblichen Ordnung

Gründe für Marktversagen:
5.) Externe Effekte
6.) Öffentliche Güter
7.) Natürliche Monopole
8.) Informationsasymmetrien
9.) Anpassungskosten
10.) Irrationalität

11.) Wirtschaftspolitik und Politische Ökonomie

Die Vorlesung beinhaltet Anwendungsbeispiele und Exkurse, um eine Verbindung zwischen Theorie und Praxis der Wirtschaftspolitik herzustellen. Z. B. Verteilungseffekte von wirtschaftspolitischen Massnahmen, Kartellpolitik am Ölmarkt, Internalisierung externer Effekte durch Emissionshandel, moralisches Risiko am Finanzmarkt, Nudging, zeitinkonsistente Präferenzen im Bereich der Gesundheitspolitik
Lecture notesJa (in Form von Vorlesungsslides).
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, what are the topics?
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. Konzepte für die Zukunft, Marburg, Metropolis
Seidl, I. /Zahrnt A. (2019). Tätigsein in der 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 EconomicsW3 credits2VI. Günther, K. Harttgen
AbstractIntroduction into basic theoretical and empirical aspects of economic development. Prescriptive theory of economic policy for poverty reduction.
ObjectiveThe goal of this lecture is to introduce students to basic development economics and related economic and developmental contexts.
ContentThe course begins with a theoretical and empirical introduction to the concepts of poverty reduction and issues of combating socioeconomic inequality. Based on this, important external and internal drivers of economic development and poverty reduction are discussed as well as economic and development policies to overcome global poverty. In particular, the following topics are discussed:

- 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
Lecture notesNone.
LiteratureGünther, Harttgen und Michaelowa (2020): Einführung in die Entwicklungsökonomik.
Prerequisites / NoticeVoraussetzungen:
Grundlagenkenntisse der Mikro- und Makroökonomie.

Die Veranstaltung besteht aus einem Vorlesungsteil, aus eigener Literatur- und Recherchearbeit sowie der Bearbeitung von Aufgabenblättern.

Die Vorlesung basiert auf: Günther, Harttgen und Michaelowa (2019): Einführung in die Entwicklungsökonomik. Einzelne Kapitel müssen jeweils vor den Veranstaltungen gelesen werden. In den Veranstaltungen wird das Gelesene diskutiert und angewendet. Auch werden offene Fragen der Kapitel und Übungen besprochen.
860-0032-00LIntroductory Macroeconomics Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants is limited to 30.
Prerequisite: An introductory course in Economics is required to sign up for this course.

Priority for Science, Technology, and Policy MSc.
W3 credits2VR. Pleninger
AbstractThis course examines the behaviour of macroeconomic variables, such as gross domestic product, unemployment and inflation rates. It tries to answer questions like: How can we explain fluctuations of national economic activity? What can economic policy do against unemployment and inflation?
ObjectiveThis lecture will introduce the fundamentals of macroeconomic theory and explain their relevance to every-day economic problems.
ContentThis course helps you understand the world in which you live. There are many questions about the macroeconomy that might spark your curiosity. Why are living standards so meagre in many African countries? Why do some countries have high rates of inflation while others have stable prices? Why have some European countries adopted a common currency? These are just a few of the questions that this course will help you answer. Furthermore, this course will give you a better understanding of the potential and limits of economic policy. As a voter, you help choose the policies that guide the allocation of society's resources. When deciding which policies to support, you may find yourself asking various questions about economics. What are the burdens associated with alternative forms of taxation? What are the effects of free trade with other countries? How does the government budget deficit affect the economy? These and similar questions are always on the minds of policy makers.
851-0610-00LThe Role of Finance in Tackling Climate Change Restricted registration - show details
Primarily suited for Master and PhD students.
W3 credits2VB. Steffen, F. M. Egli, A. Stünzi
AbstractThis course focuses on public policy to leverage finance in tackling climate change. We cover international negotiations as well as the role of governments in designing public policy for different financing actors (e.g. public and private) in developing and OECD countries.
Objective- Critically examine the role of finance (e.g. public vs private actors) in climate change and the energy transition
- Develop an understanding of the role and design of public policy to direct and mobilize finance
- Find out about current challenges in climate finance with a focus on Switzerland
ContentReaching the 2°C climate target requires massive investments in low-carbon technologies. In 2015, the Paris Agreement underlined the responsibility of governments to align finance flows with climate change mitigation. Accordingly, a market for low-carbon investments emerged, but the available climate finance falls short of what is needed. Thus, political discussions on the international and national levels concern how public policies can better use the financial system to accelerate climate change mitigation. In this course, students will learn about the role of finance for the low-carbon transition in developing countries, in industrialized countries, and specifically in Switzerland. We will discuss existing policies, their effectiveness and the underlying political economy challenges to implement them. Combining recent academic findings and hands-on insights from guest lecturers, we will analyze structural challenges, conflicting positions in international negotiations and domestic policy-making, and the role of multilateral financial institutions. The course covers four key topics:
- The role of finance in climate change and the importance of public policy
- International climate finance and development
- Climate and energy finance in OECD countries
- Opportunities (and responsibilities) for Switzerland and its financial sector

The course has a highly interactive (seminar-like) character. Students are expected to give a presentation and to actively engage in the discussions. The presentation will also form part of the final grade, together with a final exam.
Lecture notesSlides and reading material will be made available via (only for registered students).
LiteratureA reading list will be provided via (only for registered students).
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.
401-1010-00LThe Foundations of Analysis from a Philosophical and Historical Point of View Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
Number of participants limited to 30

Particularly suitable for students of D-MATH
W3 credits2SL. Halbeisen
AbstractAccompanying the courses in analysis, the beginning and development of analysis will be considered and discussed from a philosophical perspective. In particular, different approaches towards dealing with the problems sparked off by the infinitesimals will be studied. And finally, a short presentation of non-standard analysis will be given.
ObjectiveThis course aims at enabling the students to have a critical look at the basic philosophical premisses underlying analysis, to analyze them and to reflect on them.
NB. This course is part of the rectorate's critical thinking initiative.
851-0165-00LQuestions Concerning the Philosophy of Mathematics, Theoretical Physics and Computer Science Restricted registration - show details W3 credits2SG. Sommaruga, S. Wolf
AbstractThis seminar tackles questions of the philosophy of mathematics, of theoretical physics ad computer science which are rather non-standard such as: Are proofs really constitutive of mathematics? Why are applications of mathematics (to nature but also to mathematics itself) so fascinating and so hard to understand? etc.
ObjectiveThe objective is not so much to get acquainted with basic concepts and theories in the philosophy of mathematics, of theoretical physics and computer science, but to reflect in a methodical way about what lies at the origin of these philosophies. Students should learn to articulate questions arising during their studies and to pursue them in a more systematic way.
ContentThis seminar tackles questions of the philosophy of mathematics, of theoretical physics ad computer science which are rather non-standard such as: Are proofs really constitutive of mathematics? Why are applications of mathematics (to nature but also to mathematics itself) so fascinating and so hard to understand? Why do certain physical theories, e.g. quantum mechanics, need an "interpretation" whereas others don't? Is computer science part of discrete mathematics or a natural science? etc.
851-0179-00LEthical Issues in Animal Research Restricted registration - show details W2 credits2GG. Achermann, A. K. Alitalo
AbstractStudents are able to identify, describe and evaluate moral concepts, principles and leading normative approaches in animal ethics, to use these theoretical resources for constructing their own more well-grounded and reasoned positions for or against the use of animals in research and for critically assessing other people’s moral arguments in contemporary debates on animal experimentation.
ObjectiveStudents are able to identify, describe and evaluate moral concepts, principles and leading normative approaches in animal ethics, to use these theoretical resources for constructing their own more well-grounded and reasoned positions for or against the use of animals in research and for critically assessing other people’s moral arguments in contemporary debates on animal experimentation.
ContentI. An introduction into moral reasoning
1. Ethics – the basics: 1.1 What ethics is not… 1.2 Recognising an ethical issue (awareness) 1.3 What is ethics? 1.4 Ethics: a classification
2. Normative Ethics: 2.1 What is normative ethics? 2.2 Three different ways of thinking about ethics: virtue theories, duty-based theories, consequentialist theories
3. Arguments: 3.1 Why arguments? 3.2 The structure of moral arguments 3.3 Two types of arguments 3.4 Assessing moral arguments 3.5 Flaws in arguments/logical fallacies 3.6 The difference between debate and dialogue

II. Bringing moral theory to bear on animal research
1. What is moral status? 1.1 The concept of moral status; 1.2 Moral considerability – criteria for moral status: a) moral individualism (sentience, consciousness), b) moral relationalism; 1.3 Moral significance – three general views: a) the clear line view, b) the moral sliding scale, c) moral equals view; 1.4 Full moral status – the concept of personhood
2. Ethical perspectives on the moral status of animals (moral individualism): 2.1 Indirect theories: Worldviews/theological theories, Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Peter Carruthers; arguments against indirect theories: the argument from species overlap; 2.2 Direct but unequal theories: Carl Cohen, Raymund G. Frey, The concept of dignity; 2.3 Moral equality theories: Peter Singer, Tom Regan
3. Alternatives perspectives on human relations to other animals (moral relationalism): 3.1 Steven Cooke; 3.2 Garret Merriam; 3.3 Nicola Biller-Andorno
4. Conclusions

III. Ethical issues in animal biotechnology
1. Intrinsic concerns
2. Extrinsic concerns

IV. Implications for practice
1. Implications for policy making: 1.1 Normative theories and the political debate 1.2 Regulation in the context of moral disagreement, The overlapping consensus 1.3 The continuing debate…
2. Animal experiments in practice: 2.1 What is an animal experiment? 2.2 Fundamental responsibilities of researchers 2.3 Importance of scientific rigor and scientific validity; The 3R’s; 2.4 The weighing of interests
3. Focus: Experiments on mice
4. Focus: Experiments using non-human primates: Examples of ETH Zurich and University of Zurich; A real case revisited;
5. Focus: Experiments on farmed animals
851-0198-00LPhilosophy of Psychiatry Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
W3 credits2V
AbstractPsychiatry is one of the most controversial areas of medicine because it is concerned with beliefs, moods, relationships, and behaviors. This course offers an overview of some representative topics in philosophy of psychiatry.
ObjectiveThe objective of this course is to offer historical context and philosophical reflection on mental disorders and psychiatric practices.
ContentPsychiatry is one of the most controversial areas of medicine. All medicine involves some negotiation about assumptions and values, at the professional-patient and societal levels. For example, its clinical categories are imposed on the subject, who is interpreted according to a given physiological (but also political and economical) framework. However, because psychiatry is primarily concerned with beliefs, moods, relationships, and behaviors, this negotiation actually constitutes the bulk of its clinical endeavors. This course offers an overview of some representative topics in philosophy of psychiatry. Some of these are the character of mental disorders, the takeover of the mind by the medical model, the demarcation of normal and abnormal behavior, the influence of culture in the understanding of mental disorders, a critical understanding of the DSM and its evolution, and the interplay between psychiatry and legal responsibility.
851-0097-00LWhat Is Knowledge and Under What Conditions Are We Entitled to Claim Knowledge?W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractThe seminar aims at a clarification of the concept of knowledge, as it is built in our experiential relations to the world. An analysis is needed of the difference between knowledge and belief, of the relation between objectivity and knowledge, and of the role of reasons for having knowledge. Additionally, the legitimacy of different types of knowledge claims should be evaluated.
ObjectiveOn will able to evaluate the arguments pro and con the thesis, that knowledge is justified, true belief. Furthermore, one will gain some insights in the role of reasons for knowledge and in the merits and misgivings of a naturalistic account of knowledge. Finally, one will be a bit more familiar with some theories of philosophical epistemology (e.g. empiricism, rationalism).
851-0166-00LCertainty and Doubt in Science and PhilosophyW3 credits2VM. Hampe
AbstractModern science is a sceptical enterprise. Experiments and peer review are practices that test claims for knowledge. Certainty is a rather alien goal for enlightened science. Some of these practices have roots in philosophy. But in Philosophy the existential relevance of doubt is seen in new light in the last 10 years or so.
ObjectiveGet an overveiw about sceptical practices and practices to produce truths in science and philosophy. Learn about the relevance of claims for knowledge and certainty for individual and collective life.
ContentModern science is a sceptical enterprise. Experiments and peer review are practices that test claims for knowledge. Some of these practices have roots in philosophy. But in Philosophy the existential relevance of doubt is seen in new light in the last 10 years or so.
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