Ethics from systems: the philosophical perspective


Rainer E. Zimmermann (University of Applied Science Munich; Clare Hall, University of Oxford) and
Robert Jahn (International Society for Information Studies, Vienna)


Paper sessions (6 talks including discussion per session)

Call for papers

The ancient idea of Greek philosophers, especially of those Stoic protagonists who actively prepared the Roman reception, has been to secure the (scientific) knowledge about nature such that the insight gained could be utilized in order to define a framework of orientation which would provide essential principles of ethics: Hence, in the sense of the latter, human behaviour would be adequate in a well-defined sense, if it could be actually derived from what is according to nature (kátà physin). Although after the medieval turn towards a more Aristotelian approach which was modified somehow in terms of what Christian theology demanded, this ancient idea was not especially popular, it nevertheless persisted through the époques until the late nineteenth century when it showed up again with a view to a possible determination of ethics by physics (in the sense of Baader and Schelling e.g.). Meanwhile, in our days, this position has been taken by the theory of systems, because, as it turns out, this theory follows a universal approach towards describing the totality of what there is rather than concentrating on sections of what is empirically observable. Hence, as compared to the classical sciences and actually different from them, the theory of systems is an onto-epistemic conceptualization which can revive the principles of the ancient philosophical idea mentioned above on the one hand, and reconcile theoretical conceptualization with everyday praxis on the other. The proposed symposium shall illustrate this possibility for an explicit contribution to confront the present critical state of society in more detail.

Target groups

Philosophers as well as academics and practitioners interested in the ethical dimension of systems thinking.