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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Practical Philosophy/Ethics


Benjamin Kiesewetter

Dr. Benjamin Kiesewetter

E-mail: Benjamin.Kiesewetter [at] hu-berlin.de
Office: Unter den Linden 6, room 3042d
Phone: +49 30 2093-2556

Personal website: https://benjaminkiesewetter.jimdo.com

PhilPapers profile

GoogleScholar profile

CV (.pdf)


Research Interests

Moral philosophy and metaethics; normativity, rationality, and reasons; democracy, human rights, and children’s rights; selected areas of applied ethics, the history of ethics, and epistemology


Benjamin Kiesewetter studied philosophy, early modern and modern German literature, and cultural studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Nottingham, U.K. (M.A. 2007). He wrote a dissertation on the normativity of rationality (Ph.D. 2014), which was awarded with the Humboldt Prize. From 2001-2006 and 2008-2011, he held a scholarship by the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes). Since 2009, he is research associate at the Department of Philosophy at Humboldt University. Since 2015, he is principal investigator of a DFG-funded research project. He was visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (2009-2010), and the Torcuato Di Tella University, Buenos Aires (2011). From March to July 2014, he was a Research Associate at the School of Philosophy of the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. From October 2016 to September 2017, Benjamin Kiesewetter was visiting professor (Vertretungsprofessor) at the University of Hamburg.


Selected Publications


The Normativity of Rationality, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Pre-order discount link)

“Can the Lottery Paradox be Solved by Identifying Epistemic Justification with Epistemic Permissibility?”, forthcoming in: Episteme. (Preprint)

"What Kind of Perspectivism?", forthcoming in: Journal of Moral Philosophy. (Preprint)

The Right and the Wrong Kind of Reasons” (with Jan Gertken), Philosophy Compass 12 (5), e12412, 2017 (Original ArticlePreprint)

“You Ought to Φ Only If You May Believe that You Ought to  ΦThe Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265): 760-782, 2016. (Original Article, Preprint)

“Instrumental Normativity: In Defense of the Transmission Principle”, Ethics 125 (4): 921-946, 2015. (Original Article)

“A Dilemma for Parfit’s Conception of Normativity”, Analysis 72 (3): 466-474, 2012. (Original ArticlePreprint)

“‘Ought’ and the Perspective of the Agent”, Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 5 (3): 1-24, 2011. (Original Article)

“Dürfen wir Kindern das Wahlrecht vorenthalten?”, Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 95 (2): 252-273, 2009. (Original ArticlePreprint)

(complete list here)

Work in Progress

How Reasons Are Sensitive to Available Evidence”, invited contribution to Normativity: Epistemic and Practical, edited by Connor McHugh, Daniel Whiting and Jonathan Way, forthcoming at Oxford University Press (PDF Download)

"Practical Conflicts as a Problem for Epistemic Reductionism about Reasons" (with Jan Gertken), article manuscript (in preparation)

Is There a Liberal Principle of Instrumental Transmission?” (with Jan Gertken), article manuscript (in preparation)


Recent and forthcoming talks

Author Meets Students, Goethe University Frankfurt, 06 February 2018.

Philosophical Colloquium, Goethe University Frankfurt, 06 February 2018.

"What is Irrationality?", King's College London, 09 December 2017.

What is Irrationality?”, University of Leeds, 7 December 2017.

What is Irrationality?”, University of Erfurt, 29 November 2017.

“Gründe, Werte und Normativität”, Job Talk for a W2 Professorship for Practical Philosophy, University of Hamburg, 17 November 2017.

Is There a Liberal Principle of Instrumental Transmission”, Boston University, 20 October 2017.

“Why There Is No Such Thing As a Motivating Reason”, Deutscher Kongress für Philosophie, HU Berlin, 27 September 2017.

“Are Epistemic Reasons Normative?”, Conference “Ethics of Mind: Responsibility, Normativity and Rationality”, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, 1 August 2017.

“What Kind of Perspectivism?”, Book Symposion on Michael J. Zimmerman’s Ignorance and Moral Obligation, APA Pacific Division Meeting, Seattle, 12 April 2017, Handout.

(See here for a complete list)



Principles of the Deliberative Ought (DFG Project)

Practical reasoning aims to answer the question “What ought I to do?”. This research project is concerned with the concept of ‘ought’ that figures in this core question of practical deliberation and may thus be called the deliberative ought. The goal of the project is to systematically examine fundamental principles of the deliberative ought and their philosophical implications, where a principle is assumed to be fundamental if its claim to validity does not depend on any substantive normative theory. Fundamental principles of the deliberative ought include e.g. principles that correspond to the laws of deontic logic and the so-called instrumental transmission principles.


The Normativity of Rationality (PhD)

Sometimes our intentions and beliefs exhibit a structure that proves us to be irrational. This dissertation is concerned with the question of whether we ought (or have at least good reason) to avoid such irrationality. The thesis defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. The argument touches upon many other topics in the theory of normativity, such as the form and the content of rational standards or requirements, the preconditions of criti­cism, and the function of reasons in deliberation and advice. Over and above an exten­sive and careful assessment of the problems discussed in the literature, the thesis provides a detailed defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, a novel, evidence-relative account of reasons, and an explanation of structural irrationality in terms of these accounts.

The dissertation was awarded with the Humboldt Prize 2014.


Children’s rights

It is widely acknowledged that children are bearers of both legal and moral rights. At the same time, however, the legal status of minors is subject to significant restrictions. Young people are denied many rights that adults can take for granted, such as, for example, the right to vote. The research project focuses on questions such as the following: Is our practice of constraining fundamental rights by age limits justified? Do children only have a limited moral status, or do they have an equal claim to fundamental human rights? What follows from accepting children as rights-bearers for the concept of a ‘right’?


„Dürfen wir Kindern das Wahlrecht vorenthalten?“, in: Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 95 (2), 252-273 (2009). [“Are We Justified to Deny Children the Right to Vote?”] (Original ArticlePreprint)

Translated into Japanese by Toshiro Terada: “子どもに選挙権を与 えないことは許されるか?”, PRIME 33, Meiji Gakuin Daigaku, 63-81 (2011). (Original Article)

Courses Taught 

Introduction to Political Philosophy
Lecture, SS 2017 (University of Hamburg)

Why Democracy?
Advanced Seminar, SS 2017 (University of Hamburg)

The Ethics of Migration
Introductory Seminar, SS 2017 (University of Hamburg)

Research colloquium Practical Philosophy
SS 2017, WS 2016/17 (University of Hamburg)

Reasons and Rationality
Lecture, WS 2016/17 (University of Hamburg)

Uncertainty and ignorance in Ethics
Advanced Seminar, WS 2016/17 (University of Hamburg)

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Introductory Seminar, WS 2014/15 (HU Berlin) and WS 2016/17 (University of Hamburg)

What are Rights?
Advanced Seminar, co-taught with Felix Koch, WS 2014/15

Poverty and Global Justice
Introductory Seminar, WS 2013/14

Dworkin's Theory of Justice
Advanced Seminar, WS 2013/14

Introduction to Bioethics and Medical Ethics
Introductory Seminar, SS 2013

Why Be Moral?
Introductory Seminar, SS 2013

Derek Parfit, On What Matters
Advanced Seminarco-taught with Jan Gertken, WS 2012/13

Introductory Seminar, SS 2011

Recent Work on Practical Reason
Advanced Seminar, co-taught with Thomas Schmidt, WS 2010/11

Doing and Allowing
Introductory Seminar, co-taught with Jan Gertken, SS 2009