Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Research Unit for Ethics, Legal, and Political Philosophy


The unit coordinates the work of researchers working on interrelated questions in ethics, legal, and political philosophy. Current research questions concern the ethics of war, bioethics, moral psychology, roboethics, political justice, public space, politics of everyday life, social philosophy, inequality, the public sphere, the welfare state, normativity, naturalism, the ethics and politics of punishment, and the nature of rights, media ethics, and history of ethics.

The unit has an international profile, with solid ties to several of the world’s most prominent research centers in the field. Its research is published in top ranked journals. Members of the unit are actively seeking large European and Danish funds.

The unit hosts a permanent research seminar with a university-wide following, frequently organizes workshops and conferences.

Unit Coordinator

Events Fall 2021

6. september kl 13.15 – 15.00 bygning 1486, lokale 642:  

Anne-Marie Søndergaard Christensen

‘Slab, I shouted, slab!’ Gender Identities, Liberation, and Language 

Abstract: In this talk, I want to explore why contemporary debates about gender identities often develop into debates about what we can say about ourselves or each other, and, more generally, examine the role of language in discussions of gender identities. I will focus on whether to consider language a medium of limitation or liberation, and to anticipate my conclusion, my aim is to show that this opposition is misleading. Even though language may be used to both limit and liberate, it ‘does’ neither one nor the other. 

Despite this, it is often very difficult to avoid the views that language is tied to either to oppression, the limiting of our world, or to liberation, the opening of possibilities, in discussions of gender identities, and I will present two examples which may help us to understand the appeal of this opposition, Maggie Nelson’s novel The Argonauts (2015) and the discussion surrounding the interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s first major work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus(1921). Finally, I hope to develop two critical points. First, that there is a misunderstanding involved in the discussion of what language can and cannot do. Second, that we should be critical of our attempts to classify identities. Here, I draw on a recent example offered by Sophie Grace Chappell.


13. september kl 13.15 – 15.00, bygning 1486, lokale 642: 

Jørn Sønderholm 

Driving it Home: Why Busing Voters to the Polling Station is Paying People to Vote

Abstract: In this paper, we argue that the common practice in the United States of busing voters to the polling station on election day is an instance of paying people to vote. We defend a plausible definition of what it means to pay someone to vote, and on this definition, busing voters to the polling station is an instance of paying someone to vote. Paying people to vote is illegal according to United States federal election law. However, the United States courts have historically deemed the practice of busing voters to the polling station legally permissible. The United States legal system, therefore, faces a dilemma: Either, the courts must change their interpretation of current federal election law such that busing voters to the polling station is deemed to be a violation of federal election law, or federal election law must be changed so that at least some instances of paying people to vote are legally permissible. We show why choosing either of the horns of the dilemma is initially costly to the United States legal system. Furthermore, we show how our argument has significant practical implications for the role that money can play in driving up turnout and, thereby, in affecting real-life election results.

Okt. 4

Simone Sommer Degn (CEPDISC, AU)

A/symmetry in the Folk Concept of Discrimination

Recent studies show that 55% of white Americans believe they are being discriminated against, and all major ethnic groups in America believe their own group face discrimination. This insight sparks two interests at present: 1) I reflect on who can be discriminated against in a philosophical sense by invoking the legal notion of symmetry and asymmetry and 2) I will collect data on folk intuitions about discrimination in a Danish context, specifically whether or not they hold a symmetrical or asymmetrical view.

On 1): A symmetrical law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a trait for a universal class of persons, and for both “sides” of the trait (e.g. men and women), while an asymmetrical law prohibits discrimination only for a limited class of persons (e.g. only women). What does this mean for a philosophical concept of discrimination?

On 2): Cases about affirmative action are often discussed in the public and they seem to divide intuitions of the folk: Some believe it is discrimination and therefore morally wrongful (and that such practices should be eliminated), others believe it is a necessary non-discriminatory step towards erasing a history of discrimination. The former seem to rely on a concept of discrimination where all groups can be discriminated against, while the latter seem to rely on a concept where dominant groups per definition cannot be discriminated against. The earlier mentioned empirical study suggests that the American population has a predominantly symmetrical perspective on discrimination, however, the Danish context has not yet been investigated. Do the Danes hold a symmetrical or asymmetrical view of discrimination – and does their view reflect this theoretical distinction at all?



Okt. 11

Morten Dige (AU)

Forskningsintegritet og videnskabens etos – om redeskideri og ansvarlig forskningspraksis

I artiklen diskuterer jeg aktuelle udviklinger i den danske universitetsforskning, der sætter forskningsintegriteten under pres. Baggrunden er den seneste ”oprustning” på området i form af regelsæt og procedurer til styrkelse af ansvarlig forskningspraksis. Artiklen diskuterer forholdet mellem normer og modnormer for videnskabelig forskning med inddragelse af en nylig sag om tvivlsom forskningspraksis på Aarhus Universitet.




Kl.13-16 (inkl. Reception)

Årets Hartnack Forelæsning

T.M. Scanlon (Harvard University)

Further Reflections on Tolerance and Its Difficulty

Revisits the subject of the author’s paper, “The Difficulty of Tolerance,” placing the argument of the paper in a moral context and examining more deeply the diverse reasons that individuals have to care about the nature of their society.


Nov. 1

Oliver Quick (AU)



Nov. 22

Hans Fink (AU)

Identitet og identitetspolitik


Nov. 29 

Andreas Brøgger Albertsen (CEPDISC, AU)



Dec 6 

Anne Eggert Stevns (AU)

Murdoch & Kærlighedens dydsetik