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

Breathing Time – On the continuation of the ethics blog at the IZEW

The question of good and right practice is one of the core issues of human life - and the subject of reflection and justification in ethics. This concerns far-reaching socio-political decisions as well as very concrete challenges that individuals face in their everyday lives. Because values, like people, are diverse and there is - beyond basic human rights, it should also be mentioned explicitly - rarely a simple "right" or "wrong", it is important for every society to offer a space for the definition of concrete goals and the negotiation of conflicts between norms and values. Such a space enables the critical and productive reflection of social action from an ethical perspective.

The fact that these spaces are not always given or are pushed into the background in the presence of other perspectives on social action has become particularly evident since the beginning of this year. With the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic, far-reaching measures were taken worldwide to protect the life and health of people. Particularly in the early days, the medical-virological perspective was at the center of these measures. At the same time, it soon became clear that this perspective was not sufficient to address the many social challenges that a global pandemic would bring. In March of this year, we therefore launched the blog Breathing Time to broaden the discussions about the pandemic to interdisciplinary ethical aspects. In the first 14 weeks of the blog, more than 30 contributions were created that looked at ethically significant topics of the pandemic from very different angles.

Now, about half a year later, the crisis is far from over, but it is clear that everyone wants and needs to return to some kind of - new or different - normality in one way or another. This does not mean that the pandemic will cease to have a central influence on all areas of our lives, but rather that it is time to give other issues more space again. It is in this spirit that we would like to further develop our blog and encourage reflection on the Breathing Time platform through a variety of topics.

The IZEW is concerned with the whole range of application-related ethical questions. While in the past the focus was solely on aspects of the pandemic, in the future the blog will shed light on the entire diversity of ethically relevant social developments and challenges. In addition to fundamental questions of ethics in the sciences and humanities, the spectrum ranges from ethics and education to social value questions of culture and technological change to questions of effective natural conditions and sustainable development. The blog sees itself as a source of inspiration for a broad social discussion on the multifaceted question of justice and the good life. In this sense, the aim is to give a concise and comprehensible look at ethical questions from current research or new challenges arising from social developments and thus provide an insight into what it means to deal with normative and value conflicts. In doing so, the inter- and transdisciplinarity of ethics in the sciences and humanities will continue to be both the starting point and the goal, so that the ethically relevant questions that arise for scientific and other social contexts find a place here.

Regina Ammicht Quinn, Thomas Potthast and the Breathing Time editorial staff.