Progress in Moral Philosophy

Philosopher Hoesch publishes an edition of Parfit's essays on moral theory translated into German

© Suhrkamp Verlag

The new publication, co-edited by philosopher Dr. Matthias Hoesch of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”, contains translations of essential texts by the philosopher Derek Parfit (1942-2017). “For quite a while Parfit's theses have been omnipresent in international debates on practical philosophy,” the scholar, who also focuses on Kant, utilitarianism and question of ethics of migration, explains. The publication makes important essays as well as excerpts from Parfit's work “On What Matters” (2011) available in German for the first time. The volume titled “Derek Parfit: Personen, Normativität, Moral (Derek Parfit: Persons, Normativity, Morality)” was recently published by Suhrkamp Verlag.

The work contains texts on the theory of personal identity, on meta-ethics, on moral philosophy and on applied ethics. A 60-page introduction by the editors provides an overview of the texts and their contexts. „According to Parfit's conviction, the project of a secular moral theory yet is young and raises hope for a larger future consensus,” says Matthias Hoesch. In moral philosophy progress may be possible, enabling the dissolution of moral disagreements more and more. “As Parfit argues in 'On What Matters', some of these disagreements give reason to doubt whether there is any truth about moral convictions at all. But then nothing would matter in the end.” This is why Parfit tried to prove that contradictions between Kantians and Consequentialists, who have been shaping the philosophical landscape for decades, can be solved. Further, the philosopher focuses on theories that aim to define personal identity over the course of time without a unifying substance such as the soul. According to his point of view, contrary to the common understanding personal identity is simply “unimportant”.

Matthias Hoesch is a research assistant in the project A2-1 The Materialistic Worldview in the European Context of the 18th Century of the Cluster of Excellence and is a member of the coordinated project group normativity. (exc/dak)

Reference: Hoesch, Matthias / Muders, Sebastian / Rüther, Markus (Hgg.): Derek Parfit: Personen, Normativität, Moral, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2017, ISBN 978-3-518-29749-0, 436 Seiten, 20,00 Euro.