University of Lodz/Department of Ethics

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The Department of Ethics is one of four departments currently constituting the Institute of Philosophy. Since 2000 it is chaired by University of Łódź professor Andrzej Kaniowski, PhD. The academic interest of our department concentrates on broadly understood practical philosophy, which includes: social philosophy, political philosophy and philosophy of law and also practical ethics, meta-ethics, axiology, aesthetics, theory of art.

Our research themes:

I.    Independent ethics, metaethics, scientific research ethics, 7a841_beztytulu711433019tolerance, non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, German philosophy of  XVIII-XX century.
II.    Frankfurt School, Jürgen Habermas, Immanuel Kant, practical philosopy, universal ethics, duty, ownership, dignity.
III.    Utilitarian ethics, Henry Sidgwick, globalisation and ecology in philosophy.
IV.    Postautonomic aesthetics, critical discourses of art, performativism, art and the public sphere, modern and contemporary art, popular culture, meta-aesthetics, axiological aesthetics, aesthetic experience.
V.    Didactics, ethics in school, applied aesthetics, bioethics, practicing human science, occidentalism.


Ad. I. In 1971, after philosophical studies were reinstated at UŁ, The Institute of Philosophy was created. The Department of Ethics was then chaired by professor Ija Lazari-Pawłowska (1921-1994), a student of Maria Ossowska and of Janina and Tadeusz Kotarbińscy and a continuator of the independent ethics paradigm.  Her interest focused around Indian ethics. She wrote several books on Mahatma Gandhi, including the widely-known monography Ghandi (1967). She redacted the book Metaetyka [Metaethics] (1975), which was the first Polish book of such volume presenting metaethical issues.  In 1976 her book on ethics of Albert Schweitzer, a peace Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1952, was published. Her most renown and most debated work is Trzy pojęcia tolerancji [Three concepts of tolerance] (1984). Prof. Lazari-Pawłowska chaired the Department of Ethics until 1991. In that year the chair was taken  by prof. Józef Piórczyński, an expert in German philosophy. At that time the research ethics was overseen by Wojciech Sztombka and Ewa Nowicka Sztombka, whose doctoral thesis was devoted to the doctrine and strategies of non-violence, turned to socio-political issues and problems of great relevance in the time of transformation (after 1989) such as patriotism or ideological neutrality of the state.

Ad. II. Prof. Kaniowski broadened the scope of the Department’s research interest to include communicative ethics, normative basis of democracy and bioethical issues. He authored the books Filozofia społeczna Jürgena Habermasa (Social philosophy of Jurgen Habermas), W poszukiwaniu jedności teorii i praktyki (In the search for Unity of Theory and Praxis)  (1990) and translations of Habermas’s works, i.a.  The Theory of Communicative Action (vol 1 – 1999, vol 2 – 2002); Rzecz o kondycji i ustroju Europy (2014). Prof. Kaniowski’s second area of research, next to the Frankfurt school tradition, is the practical philosophy of Immanuel Kant (i.a. a translated monography on the philosophy of Kant by Otfried Höffe). Prof Kaniowski is especially interested in universal ethics  and the problem of acting outside of duty Supererogacja. Zagubiony wymiar etyki. Czyny chwalebne w etykach uniwersalistycznych (Supererogation – a Forgotten Dimension of eEthics. Meritorious Acts and Universalistic Approaches in Ethics) (1999). In 2005 he organised a symposium attended by prof. Habermas devoted to his ideas about, among others, the role of religion in the society.

From 2011 to 2013 the Department hosted a project Aktualność i praktyczne znaczenie filozofii państwa i prawa Immanuela Kanta (Topicality and practical significance of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy of state and law) ( with National Science Centre) and since 2012 a series of summer seminars Rechtsstaatlichkeit. Kant – Hegel – Habermas is organised in cooperation with European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) and the Polish-German Science Foundation. There are other researchers dealing with interpreting Kant’s ethics and philosophy of law, such as: Joanna Miksa (the issue of relation between morality and law), Tomasz Michałowski (the issue of ownership) and Ewa Wyrębska (the concept of universal legal state). Kantian tradition also gave rise to the academic interest of Krzysztof Kędziora, who explores the issue of justification in practical philosophy and the idea of universality. Human dignity also plays an important role in the workings of the Department; the first international conference was organized in 2012 by the Department of Ethics in cooperation with the Department of Legal Theory and the Philosophy of Law chaired by prof. Marek Zirk-Sadowski, another one is scheduled for 2014.

Ad. III. A different field of piratical philosophy is the domain of Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek – she deals with the issues of globalisation and ecology and utilitarian ethics tradition. Together with Peter Singer she wrote the book The Point of View of the Universe: Sidgwick and Contemporary Ethics (OUP Oxford 2014).

Ad. IV. The matter of public discourse and the public sphere has been investigated by the Department of Ethics for years and is of special interest to the researchers who joined it in 2013. Wioletta Kazimierska-Jerzyk and Agnieszka Gralińska-Toborek conduct research on performative aspects of modern art. Agnieszka Rejniak-Majewska is mainly interested in the relation between the political and aesthetic ideas in modern and contemporary aesthetics and theory of art and also in changes in modern art criticism. Suggested conceptualizations join the theoretical analysis of artistic and cultural phenomena with metaesthetical and axiological issues (W. Kazimierska-Jerzyk, „Strategia rewaloryzacji” we współczesnej refleksji nad sztuką / The strategy of revaluation’ in contemporary reflection on fine arts, 2008). In general, that field of research may be described as postautonomic aesthetics, which deals with the relation of that which is esthetic to its political, social and cultural dimension. One of the most important questions within that field is the aesthetic experience as evidenced by the currently conducted research or Martin Jay’s Songs of Experience recently translated into Polish by Agnieszka Rejniak-Majewska (Pieśni doświadczenia, 2008). Wioletta Kazimierska-Jerzyk and Agnieszka Gralińska-Toborek ar co-authors of the monograph titled Doświadczenie estetyczne sztuki w przestrzeni miejskiej. Galeria Urban Forms 2011-13 [Aesthetic Experience of Art in the Public Space. Urban Forms Gallery 2011-13]. The book is an analysis of the Urban Forms Foundation activities in the area of creation of an urban art gallery in Lodz and of different aspects of its functioning. It contains an annex presenting the results of the qualitative research conducted during the third edition of the Urban Forms Gallery Festival in 2013.

V. The didactic activities of Department of Ethics include: the history of classical issues of moral philosophy, modern social philosophy and metaethics, different fields of applied ethics – bioetics, media ethics, information and business ethics, philosophy of culture, aesthetics and history and theory of art. The classes are conducted not only for the course in Philosophy but also other courses at University of Łódź. Since 2009 Department of Ethics and Department of Aesthetics worked together to create the no longer existing specialisation in applied philosophy, which underscored the connection between theoretical investigation and engagement in social and cultural life.  That collaboration has continued and resulted in a student internship programme directed by Wioletta Kazimierska-Jerzyk and Agnieszka Gralińska-Toborek in cooperation with Urban Forms Foundation. Since 2013 the students of the Faculty of Philosophy and History have conducted field research, organizational activities and workshops within various projects run by the Foundation. Educational innovations have been introduced such as the creation of an interdisciplinary course of Occidentalism, which integrates the domains of philosophy, history and cultural sciences. That course on the culture of the West was created by prof. Kaniowski, Wioletta Kazimierska-Jerzyk and Krzysztof Kędziora and emphasizes activating teaching methods and practical evaluation the knowledge of skills of students. In the field of bioethics a course has been organised in cooperation with Medical University of Łódź and intense international collaboration has continued since 2000 within  Interdisziplinärer Arbeitskreis für Ethik in der Medizin in Polen und Deutschland. Prof Kaniowski has participated in a project devoted to bioethics and the issue of human dignity held in  Zentrum für interdisziplinare Förschung w Bielefeld. Department of Ethics also conducts research related to the  „Etyka w szkole” programme, which aims at confronting the curriculum for teaching ethics in Poland with those in other countries, analyse its content and methodology and suggest improvements (Prof Kaniowski, Joanna Miksa and Aleksandra Kanclerz).