Education of the Philosophy Group

The Philosophy Group consists of approximately 12 persons teaching and doing research in the Philosophy and Ethics of the life sciences. Our teachings try to stimulate students to formulate their own opinion in ethical and other philosophical matters and to communicate these with others.

An important part of the teachings are workshops on learning to talk about ethical and other dilemmas and on learning to present a paper. The teachings consist of Ethics of Food and Food Sciences, Ethics and Social Science, Philosophy and Ethics of Biotechnology, Environmental Ethics, Ethics and Philosophy of Research, Science, and Technology. The teachers are all enthusiastic and stimulating, and are well known researchers in their field.

The Philosophy teaching method in the starters’ courses consists of at least three stages: first we start with some lectures, than we give training in dilemmas and learn to apply a three or five step scheme of solving ethical problems. Finally we invite students to give presentations on a philosophical or ethical topic from the different branches of philosophy. In the advanced courses, the students can perform a stage or write a longer study on some selective topic; empirical, qualitative research (interviewing, focus groups) is very often done. In these advanced courses we elaborate, comment upon and reconstruct several ethical perspectives. We are in particular interested in Pragmatism, and in dialogue with utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. We developed concepts of technology and normativity as Co-evolution, and of ethics in food chains through Ethical Room for Manoeuvre (ERM). We analyze public consultations on technologies, the agenda setting, the framework, and the inclusion of the stakeholders. We use ethical concepts like justice and the right to voice (= the right to be heard) to ethically evaluate these consultations and we look to the function of interests and value conflicts. Pluralism with respect to food and culture and the relationship of food to other sectors of culture like music is being researched upon. Finally, global developments are analyzed and evaluated.

With respect to Animal welfare, we lay bare value dilemmas and reconstruct them in terms of Ethical room for Manoeuvre that stakeholders have to solve them. Dilemmas between different values and their respective ways of solution, like compromise, negotiations, exchange or Trade off are discussed. Because of the co-existence of radical different values systems, we formulate the concept of Ethical room for Manoeuvre, in which no strict norms or: no life compelling technologies are at stake and should function in Socio-structural: open spaces, in all links of the chain for both Producers- consumers.