Universität Wien FIND

180097 SE Ethics and Money: A History of Ideas (2020S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Prüfungsimmanente Lehrveranstaltung


Hinweis: Ihr Anmeldezeitpunkt innerhalb der Frist hat keine Auswirkungen auf die Platzvergabe (kein "first come, first served").


max. 30 Teilnehmer*innen
Sprache: Englisch


Termine (iCal) - nächster Termin ist mit N markiert

For the time being, this seminar takes places as an e-learning seminar on Moodle. All registered students are already signed up for the Moodle course, where further information is posted in the announcements forum. If you cannot access Moodle but are registered for the course, please send me an email.

To allow for optimum use of the limited seminar places, if there is a waiting list, then students who do not attend the first seminar session without notification of the lecturer will automatically be de-registered to make space for students on the waiting list.
If you have registered and cannot make it to the first session, but intend to follow this seminar, then please email felix.pinkert@univie.ac.at ahead of the session to keep your place.

Dienstag 10.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 17.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 24.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 31.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 28.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 05.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 12.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 19.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 26.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 09.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 16.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 23.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228
Dienstag 30.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock C0228


Ziele, Inhalte und Methode der Lehrveranstaltung

Is there such a thing as having too much money? Would it be inappropriate to pay your friend money for a favour they did for you, and if so, why? What, if anything, justifies getting interest on loaned money, and when is a loan exploitative? When is a product immorally overpriced, and is it problematic to ask different prices of different people? Can we put a price on human life, health, or the natural environment?

These and similar ethical questions about our relationship with money are pressing today, but have also already been asked for centuries. In this seminar, we aim to learn from this historical heritage to better understand the morality of money for today. We will hence approach the morality of money from both a historical and a systematic perspective. The aim is to understand the philosophical issues at stake in these questions, to understand and critically appraise a range of different ethical positions that may be partly alien to us, and to lay the foundations for formulating and defending our own answers to these questions in a contemporary setting.

Indicative topics:
- putting prices on everything: commodification
- the motive of seeking profit
- usury and lending against interest
- storing value and accumulating wealth
- just price, fair trade, price discrimination
- fair wages, earning too much or too little
- gambling, insurance, derivatives, and risk
- inflation, money-printing, who gets to make money, "real money"

The main focus of the seminar will be on the "Western" tradition of philosophical and theological reasoning about money. At times, we may also look to other intellectual traditions, e.g. Islamic moral theology. Contemporary texts will mainly be drawn from the so-called "analytical" tradition of philosophy.

After successful completion of the seminar, you will be able to
- explain key historical positions in the morality of money in your own words in speaking and writing,
- contextualise contemporary ethical questions in the context of the history of ideas, identifying relevant historical texts and using these to increase your understanding of the contemporary questions,
- reconstruct and critically evaluate arguments from historical and contemporary texts, in speaking and writing,
- position yourself with regard to selected question in the morality of money,
- explain selected philosophical questions, arguments, and concepts to a non-specialist audience.

The seminar is taught and assessed in English, and will feature extensive small group discussions which require everyone's preparation and contribution to succeed. In preparation of each seminar, you will read the assigned core text and complete some short preparatory reading tasks and other research exercises on Moodle. A willingness to engage with concepts and ideas from contemporary economics is required. Prior knowledge of economics is an asset, but not required. Relevant economic concepts and ideas will be explained in class where needed.

Art der Leistungskontrolle und erlaubte Hilfsmittel

The seminar is assessed through one term paper, weekly seminar preparation tasks, and a choice of one of three shorter assignments:

1) Weekly tasks. These are marked for completeness, not for correctness: what matters here is that you have seriously thought about the tasks and prepared for the seminar. Weight: 20%. Deadline: Each teaching week 4pm on the day before the seminar. Tasks that are late without authorisation can at most score a grade of 4 (mere pass).
2) A term paper / essay of 2300-2500 words (including bibliography and footnotes), on any topic from the seminar. Weight: 60%. Deadline: September 30, 2020, 23:59.
3) Your choice of one of the following three assignments, depending on which skills you plan to develop (Weight: 20%):
1) An extended abstract of 800-1000 words, in which you propose an essay or conference paper on any topic from the seminar. This is a common format for applying to present at conferences. You can also use this assignment to test an idea for the term paper. Deadline: July 15, 2020, 23:59.
2) A public engagement piece of 800-1000 words, in the style of a blog entry or newspaper opinion piece, in which you use ideas from the course material to critically comment on current social, economic, or political affairs, or advocate a practical policy position. Pieces in The Economist can serve as a useful example for this kind of writing. The aim of this assessment is to allow you to develop your skills in writing for a non-specialist audience. Deadline: July 15, 2020, 23:59.
3) A very short presentation (5-6 minutes) in which you explain an idea of the week's seminar material and raise and explain a discussion question about it. The aim of this assessment is to allow you to develop your presentation skills. Sign-up for presentation dates will at the first seminar session (email me if you are unable to attend!).

Written assignments are to be submitted as pdf file on Moodle, with all identifying information (name, student ID) in the text, file name, and file metadata removed to facilitate anonymous marking. Delayed submissions are subject to a penalty of +0.2 marks for each day (24h) of lateness. If your submission is delayed for reasons outside of your control, e.g. illness, please contact me via email as soon as possible.

I will only mark assessments after the deadline, irrespective of how early you submit, and will then mark them within four weeks. If you need your mark earlier, e.g. if you are on an exchange semester, please explicitly request this by email to felix.pinkert@univie.ac.at

Mindestanforderungen und Beurteilungsmaßstab

A positive evaluation requires that you achieve a pass grade (4) in all three assessment components, and that you actively attend the seminar. Two unauthorized absences will be excused.


You can write your assignments on any topics linked to the seminar themes and texts. You are encouraged to develop your own research topics, and to consult with me on your writing plans.


The reading list is posted on Moodle, and contains selected historical and contemporary texts on the morality of money.

Zuordnung im Vorlesungsverzeichnis

Letzte Änderung: Sa 10.09.2022 00:19