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Wolff’s “German Ethics” – New Approaches and Perspectives

The 300th anniversary of the publication of Christian Wolff’s Vernünfftige Gedancken von der Menschen Thun und Lassen (‘Deutsche Ethik,’ 1720) is an excellent occasion to take a fresh look at the text. This is especially true given Wolff’s practical philosophy is still somewhat neglected by scholars of many varieties, at least compared to his theoretical philosophy.

Wolff Deutsche Ethik TitelbildThis conference aims at remedying this deficiency by exploring systematically pertinent issues in Wolff’s ‘German Ethics,’ such as the question of how perfection relates to happiness, the role of pleasure in (moral) motivation, and Wolff’s conception of normativity and ‘natural obligation.’ In this context, questions concerning the relation of Wolff’s ethics to that of his predecessors and contemporaries, such as Leibniz, are also of interest. Wolff owes his conception of perfection, for example, to Leibniz.

The conference has the further goal of providing historically and systematically robust interpretations of Wolff’s practical philosophy in order to (1) better understand the contours of his philosophy in relation to the larger 18th-century philosophical landscape; and (2) shed light on issues in contemporary practical philosophy, e.g. the normativity of practical reasons and the difference between motivating and justifying reasons.


Stefano Bacin, Corey Dyck, Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero, Courtney Fugate, Ursula Goldenbaum, Paul Guyer, Dieter Hüning, Timothy Rosenkoetter, Paola Rumore, Sonja Schierbaum, Clemens Schwaiger, Emanuel Lanzini Stobbe, Michael Walschots, John Walsh

Organisation: Dr. Sonja Schierbaum (University of Würzburg), Dr. Michael Walschots (MLU Halle-Wittenberg) and Dr. John Walsh (MLU Halle-Wittenberg)

The event will take place virtually.

14. Oktober – 16. Oktober 2021

Conference of the Emmy Noether-Projekt “Praktische Gründe vor Kant (1720-1780)”, Supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

For registration and information, please contact Alicia Aktas:


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