Scholars of the Centre for Ethics stipends in 2005/2006
Külli Keerus (philosophy) „The possibilities of Contractural Moral Theory in Environmental Ethics”
My thesis focuses on normative issues in environmental ethics, asking about the place of natural entities (including humans) in the possible hierarchy of values. Although environmentalists have generally proclaimed anthropocentrism arbitrary, many of them still accept the priority of the value of human life. I am primarily interested in their reasons for doing so. I presume that different natural entities do have moral status (even if this does not involve accepting their objective or intrinsic value); the question is only about the significance of this status. I study the possible value of contractualism in solving these problems.
Eva Piirimäe (political philosophy) "Thomas Abbt (1738-1766) and the Philosophical Genesis of German Nationalism"
There is a steadily growing recognition in recent scholarship that the key to understand the development of nationalism is to be found in linking it to state-building, absolutism and the Machiavellian reason of state politics of large modern monarchies. ‘Nationalism’ comprises two things in particular: the ruthless competitive pursuit of economic and military power and the popular sentiment that emerges in support of this pursuit. My dissertation focuses specifically on Thomas Abbt’s theory of modern patriotism as laid out in his two books, Dying for the Fatherland (1761) and On Merit (1765). Abbt conceived his first work at a time when Prussia was starting to face of military defeat and patriotism was needed to encourage Prussians to sacrifice themselves for their fatherland. The second book raised the issue of what ‘life for fatherland’ could mean in modern monarchy. I explore the philosophical and political content of Abbt’s support for Frederick the Great as a ‘patriot king’ and discuss his main idea under the term ‘aesthetic patriotism’. I claim that it was in Abbt’s ‘aesthetic patriotism’ that the fundamental features of German nationalist ideology emerged.
Toivo Aavik (psychology). "Accuracy of personal values expressions - moralistic and egoistic biases."
The main purpose of this project is to investigate the variety of value describing words and interrelation of value categories in the Estonian language. To accomplish this aim, a psycholexical approach was adopted, during which a set of 560 value-related words was selected from the Estonian Orthological Dictionary. Based on the research, a personal values questionnaire was developed. Another purpose of the current project is to access the moderation of two social desirability responding biases – egoistic and moralistic -– in personal values. My research raises many ethical questions. Part of deceptive value expression is conscious and thus we may call it deliberate faking. Even so, this behavior may not be unethical by its content because it may represent social desirability. Social interaction could not effectively occur if people didn’t construct public identities – giving information about their personalities, motives and values. The social norms prevalent in any given society may lead people to negatively value some attributes (eg drug abuse, drunken driving etc.). Thus there is a strong pressure to express their own values sincerely and honestly but most of us realize that the values we express to other people do make a difference. This way a certain amount of deception in expressed values is essential for meaningful and smooth working of society.
Leno Saarniit (public administration). “Criticism of Lawcentred Approach of Public Ethics”
During the 20th century the apporach to public ethics (ethics of civil service and political ethics) has focused on legal and managerial perspective. Several public ethics scholars focus on following the laws while discussing the morality of certain types of behaviour, and by doing that they seem to equalize law and ethics. Therefore a question is raised: are ethics and law the same. The aim of my thesis is firstly, to critically analyse the law and management centred approach to public ethics and bring out the fading line between law and ethics of this approach. Secondly, the thesis aims at discussing the possible reasons for such development.
Eneken Tikk (law) "Ethics and Information Society Law"
The main aim of the project is to study, which ethical problems are related to knowledge and the transformation of the society into an "information society" or "knowledge society" and how can legal instruments be used to overcome these problems. The author is interested in values and assessments people of the information society have towards novel situations and opportunities and will try to assess these values in the context of legal regulation. Results of the project will be part of Eneken's PhD thesis. The thesis focuses on forms of legal regulation in the information society, asking, inter alia, on rationale of regulation and indicators on quality of law as well assessment of the impact of laws in the socity.