What is the most philosophical one-word question

Philosophy at the University of Vechta


The assembly of individual parts into an overall product. For example, there is a problem with how to justly take into account the different wishes of those affected when making a collective decision.



literally: self-regulation; often used more generally in the sense of self-determination. A person is autonomous in this sense when he makes his or her personal life decisions on the basis of his or her own, mature and well-informed deliberations. With Kant, on the other hand, autonomy means acting according to general laws that one has given oneself.



Consultation on a joint decision. The participants try to weigh the various reasons for and against various options together.



An argumentative discussion of the basic rules that should determine the coexistence of those affected. One can imagine an “ideal” discourse in which everyone tries to appreciate the contributions of all other participants and to be convinced by the best argument.



This term is used with two different meanings:

  1. Theory of morality. "Morality" is understood here to mean norms that people demand from one another, whereby they are outraged if someone disregards them (e.g. the commandment to keep promises made). "Ethics" is then the systematic reflection on such norms, e.g. with the help of the following questions: Can one justify moral norms? If so, how and which ones?
  2. Ideas of the good life. These are ideas that a person uses to orient their own life and which they consider desirable. In this meaning, “ethics” is opposed to “morality”. It is often claimed that ethical ideas in this sense can only be binding for the individual, while “morals” are generally binding norms.



A controversial term with many different meanings. Important distinctions are the following:

Free will: This relates to whether the will of an agent is free. It depends on the particular inner Conditions of the agent under which his will arose. Someone is unfree in this sense when his will is determined, for example, by strong compulsions.

Freedom of action: the freedom to do an action when you want to do it. Only they play here outer Conditions of the agent matter, not the question of how his will came about.

The freedom of action is often divided into two aspects:

Negative freedom: One is free to do an act when others do not prevent him from doing it.

Positive freedom: A person is free to take an action when others are actively assisting him in doing it by making sure he is given the means to do so. In another meaning, some authors consider a person to be positively free if they can actively participate in the laws to which they are subject, for example in a democracy.



The idea that the fundamental substance of the world is not matter but something spiritual (and for some idealists: reasonable). According to Hegel's idealism, essential structures of reality (e.g. law, world history, art and religion) can be understood as the gradual development of a principle of reason.



Most modern ethical and political theories are individualistic in the following sense: According to them, merely possessing independent, non-inferred value Individuals, but not collectives (e.g. the people as a whole) or impersonal objects (e.g. a "cosmic order"). On this basis, they mostly advocate that every individual should be given a certain space for their self-development. The term means against it Not an unlimited, selfish or reckless self-development of the individual.



An idea is intuitive when we grasp it without being able to give a reason for it.



A requirement is categorical if it applies without preconditions, in particular regardless of our will. Moral demands are often viewed as categorical because they oblige people to take a certain act, regardless of whether those people benefit from the act or whether the act promotes their own will.



Something is constitutive of a thing when it is an integral part of it. The thing cannot exist without such a component.



Political rule claims legitimacy: This means that citizens have a reason to recognize the rule of their own accord and to obey the law and political decisions.



A view according to which states should primarily respect the individual freedom of action of all people. In political philosophy, it is usually about freedom for self-development and political activity, but not about an economic life that is as unregulated as possible (this is what economic liberalism, on the other hand, demands).



This word is used in different meanings:

  1. Doctrine of the basic structures of the world. Such structures, which are discussed in more detail in metaphysics, include, for example, space and time, cause and effect, chance and necessity.
  2. Teaching of facts that do not belong to the world that can be grasped by the senses, but still be imagined as really existing. This can (depending on your point of view) include, for example, religious or moral truths.


modus vivendi

An agreement (e.g. on a constitution) that the parties only enter into because this serves their own interests under the current circumstances. So you don't let yourself be guided by what is in the interests of others or just.


Motive / motivation

The inner drive from which someone acts. The same action can happen for different motives, e.g. out of greed, out of fear of punishment, out of pleasure in the act itself or out of the will to do the morally right thing.


Norm / normativity

Norms express how people act should, don't mind how they actually act.



Participation of citizens in political decisions, e.g. through referendums.



Special peculiarities that distinguish an individual or a group from others.



A view according to which the state derives its legitimacy from a certain idea of ​​the good life and may prefer this idea over others. For example, it is perfectionist when fundamental freedoms are justified by the fact that people only lead a successful life if they break away from traditions and make as many independent decisions as possible.



A desire of a person for others to behave in a certain way or for him to receive certain goods. A person can have different preferences that cannot all be realized at the same time. Preferences can also be stronger or weaker.



The view that standards (e.g. laws) are legitimate because they were created through a process that fulfills certain requirements (e.g. equal participation of all).


Rationality (practical)

Practical rationality is concerned with which actions (practice) of people are rational. A distinction must be made here:

- instrumental rationality: the action is a means to achieve a given goal. Example: If I want to graduate, it is rational to study for the exams.

- Rationality of the good life: I align my life with goals that I have carefully considered and weighed against other goals.

- Rationality of morality: I adhere to moral rules that I have recognized as correct.


the right

Actions that are morally required



An ideal of state organization, which in some aspects is based on the ancient and early modern republics. Central to this are the ideas of popular sovereignty (citizens have political power; they participate equally and directly in joint decisions) and the common good (citizens should put their private interests aside and then decide what is good for everyone).



The sovereign is the highest power in a state. It is the source of all laws and political decisions and does not formally depend on any other violence. While in an absolute monarchy the monarch has sovereignty, the principle of popular sovereignty prevails in modern democracies.


teleological teachings (in morality)

This term describes all doctrines according to which morality is supposed to achieve a certain goal ("telos") that is logically independent of the actions themselves. For example, utilitarianism is a teleological doctrine because it is important that actions produce the highest possible overall benefit.



A moral theory, according to which those actions are morally required which, overall, have the greatest utility ("utility") for all Bring out those affected. “Use” is understood to mean anything that is pleasant for the person concerned or that corresponds to his or her wishes, i.e. not just material or “economic” use (this is how the term is sometimes misunderstood).


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