The Einstein Ethics Group was established in April 2016, in connection with the appointment of R. Jay Wallace as Visiting Fellow of the Berlin Einstein Foundation. The Group is established for an initial period of two years, through March, 2018. During the Wintersemester of 2016-17 and the Sommersemester of 2017, Jay Wallace will be in continuous residence in Berlin, on sabbatical leave from his home institution (the University of California, Berkeley). The other members of the Group are based in Berlin.
The Group's members are interested in all areas of moral and political philosophy and the theory of practical reason. They will meet every other week during the academic year 2016-2017 in Colloquium sessions at which recent work in these general areas will be discussed; these meetings are also open to other advanced students and Berlin-based scholars with interests in practical philosophy. In addition, the Group is planning a series of workshops and conferences in Berlin, organized around the theme of relational normativity, which will take place from 2016-2018. The leading question here is the extent to which the moral realm can be understood as a domain of directed obligations that are connected constitutively to the claims of other individuals. We will explore the model of directed duty in application to other normative domains (such as that of private law), and consider the extent to which these domains do and do not resemble interpersonal morality. We will also consider the implications of the relational interpretation for specific issues within morality. These include the distinctive features of moral accountability as an interpersonal practice; the nature of moral obligation; and the strengths and limits of contractualism as an account of what we owe to each other. We also hope to explore the nature of promissory obligation, taking this to be a particularly prominent and interesting special case of moral duties that are owed specifically to another party.