International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Junior Research Group

Ethics of Science in the Research for Sustainable Development

Head of the group
Dr. Simon Meisch

The junior research group investigates challenges to research for Sustainable Development in the fields of epistemology and especially ethics of science.

Though widely known and popular, the term 'sustainability' itself is misleading as it seems to describe a final state. However, there is no single and ultimate sustainable state of the world. Depending on culture, space and time, one can describe different more or less sustainable states. This is the case for roughly speaking two interconnected reasons:

First of all, the physical (e.g. ecosystems) and socio-cultural (e.g. societies, cultural identities) pre-conditions of Sustainable Development differ greatly on a global scale. On top of that, these conditions change over time by natural (e.g. climate change) and social (e.g. demography, socio-political disruptions) processes.

Second, Sustainable Development is highly related to notions of the Good and the Right. To the question what is good or right there is no ultimate and final answer, though. That does not mean that the answer would be arbitrary or accidental. However, there are different, ethically justifiable notions of the Good and Right that can be applied.

What can be considered as Sustainable Development in a specific context therefore depends on the physical and social pre-conditions as well as the on the applied notions of the Good and the Right and has to be considered as a constant process of social negotiation. Against this background, it is more appropriate to speak of the process of Sustainable Development.

With its expertise, research for Sustainable Development does contribute to this process. The transformation towards a more sustainable world is a knowledge-based and ethically oriented process of experiencing, learning and acting. By generating knowledge in inter- and transdisciplinary research, the scientific system can significantly support this transformation.

The aim of the junior research group is to explore the outlook, the content and the methodology of scientific expertise when it comes to dealing with central themes of a Sustainable Development and to develop elements and modules of an ethics of inter- and transdisciplinarity with regard to Sustainable Development.

The junior research group is part of the IZEW department Nature and Sustainable Development.

Dr. Simon Meisch
Universität Tübingen
Internationales Zentrum für
Ethik in den Wissenschaften (IZEW)
Wilhelmstraße 19
72074 Tübingen

Tel: +49 / 7071 / 29 77583
Fax: +49 / 7071 / 29 5255