Institute of Political Science


Tremmel, Jörg (2020): Normative Politische Theorie:
Wissenschaftstheoretische Grundlagen und Anwendungen am Beispiel des
politischen Mordverbots. Wiesbaden: Springer VS (325 Seiten; ISBN
(Originally written in German, this book is currently updated and translated into English and will appear in 2023 with the title “Procedural Ethics. How do we know what is right or wrong?”)


"To someone who tries to eliminate democracy, one should resist."

"One should choose the party that promises to minimize your tax burden."

"In a democratic multi-party system in a well-ordered society, political opponents who do not use violence themselves should not be murdered."


These are some examples of normative-evaluative hypotheses. While sufficient attention is paid to the methodology of the history of ideas within the relevant political science sub-discipline Political Theory, students so far learn very little about how to proceed methodologically with normative hypotheses from the world of politics.


This textbook is divided into two parts. In its basic section, the focus is on the provability or falsifiability of normative hypotheses, the status of empirical data for normative hypotheses, and the is-ought dichotomy. In its application part, an example - the prohibition of assassinations - is used to demonstrate in actu the practice of the normative research approach. As test criteria for normative hypotheses, the veil of ignorance, the discourse procedure, the procedure of the independent observer and the categorical imperative are used.




A Theory of Intergenerational Justice

Joerg Chet Tremmel

The appeal to ‘our obligations to future generations’ is one of the most forceful, emotional and effective arguments available to politicians and citizens and is the cornerstone of all modern policies aimed at sustainable development. Yet, the exact nature and extent of these obligations are unclear - who owes what to whom, exactly, and why?

This highly accessible book provides an extensive and comprehensive overview of current research and theory about why and how we should protect future generations. It exposes how and why the interests of people today and those of future generations are often in conflict and what can be done. It rebuts critical concepts such as Parfits’ ‘non-identity’ paradox and Beckerman’s denial of any possibility of intergenerational justice. The core of the book is the lucid application of a ‘veil of ignorance’ to derive principles of intergenerational justice which show that our duties to posterity are stronger than is often supposed. Tremmel’s approach demands that each generation both consider and improve the wellbeing of future generations. To measure the wellbeing of future generations Tremmel employs the Human Development Index rather than the metrics of utilitarian subjective happiness. The book thus answers in detailed, concrete terms the two most important questions of every theory of intergenerational justice: ‘what to sustain’ and ‘how much to sustain?’

Ultimately this book provides a theory of intergenerational justice that is both intellectually robust and practical with wide applicability to law, policy, economics, climate change and all other contexts that affect future generations.

Tremmel, Joerg C. (2009): A Theory of Intergenerational Justice. Second PhD Thesis, London: Earthscan. Hardback £68.00; Paperback £28.00.

More informations: Book advert

Tremmel has provided us with the most comprehensive map available of the ‘no-man's land’ of ethical thought concerning our obligations to future generations. As humans embark on more and more unprecedented ‘experiments’ with the future of life on earth, this area of ethics becomes ever more urgent. If the human species someday accepts the obvious burdens owed to posterity, they may point back to this extended treatment as the beginning of a new age of morality.

Prof. Dr. Bryan Norton, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Georgia Tech University, USA

Statements by readers

Review in "Environmental Values", Volume 20, Number 1, February 2011, pp. 121-123.