Main Fields of Research

The breadth and diversity of the field of social ethics calls for  specialization in different sub-areas. Our particular areas of research are:

International Ethics with Focus on Human Rights, Economic Ethics, and Ecology

Globalization is one of the megatrends of our days. Worldwide processes of interconnectedness and integration raise political, economic, social and cultural questions, and require a vision of justice for all human beings. As a core topic, the need for a consistent ethics of human rights is becoming ever more obvious, and the philosophical and theological justification of human rights in a global perspective will be  indispensable in the long run. Moreover political, social, economic and ecological questions which arise in the global context for individual as well as for social ethics, have to be addressed in this new situation (democracy and ethics, consumer ethics, ethics of financial markets, ecology, sustainability).

Social Ethics in Ecumenical Discourse

Social Ethics in Ecumenical Discourse Christian ethics have been developed in denominational theologies, with their different characteristics. Challenged by the Social Mission Statement of the Ecumenical Council of Austria (promulgated in 2003, cf. sozialwort.at), our institute has started a long-term project reflecting on the different denominational traditions with regard to social ethics, their commonalities as well as their diversity. While preliminary work had been done in the field of Catholic-Protestant ecumenism earlier, the involvement of Orthodoxy in the social ethical dialogue meant entering new territory. Meanwhile, intense relations with research and teaching institutions of all denominations, especially in Southeast Europe, have been established.
See: Trilogy on Social Ethics: Orthodox – Catholic – Protestant, Philadelphia: Ecumenical Press 2012.

Christian Social Ethics in Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue

Globalization and growing multiculturalism nationally and internationally challenge Christian social thought to spell out its positions on the intercultural and interreligious dialogue, and to develop them further in different cultural contexts. Against this backdrop, the theoretical debates on structural questions concerning justice in politics and economy raised by modernity are of major importance. Social ethical arguments with regard to human rights, democracy, economic justice and sustainability are introduced into the discourse with other cultures and religions (at our institute especially with Islamic and Orthodox Christian positions), as well as with secularist approaches. A theologically founded social ethical approach plays a key role in this process, since it provides important thinking patterns for bridging the gap between European secularist arguments in the social ethics discourse on the one hand, and non-secular approaches on the other.

Gender Ethics, Ethics of Care and Justice

This research focus aims at relating the gender perspective to the problems of social ethics, thus contributing to a gender-equal theory of formation within social ethics. Care and justice debates, which are often held antagonistically, are reunited, and the innermost core of the notion of care is explicated for modern societies.

The dissertations und diploma theses written at our institute reflect these main fields of research.