Ethics Research Group

Welcome to the Ethics Research Group's webpage!



The Ethics Research Group (ERG) is hosted by the Philosophy Department at UiT, consisting of philosophers at UiT, as well as a network of external collaborators and affiliated members. The group is led by accosiate professor Heine A. Holmen (chair) and associate professor Ivar R. Labukt (vice-chair) (also see Members).

We devote ourselves to some of the most fundamental and vexing issues in ethics, moral philosophy and meta-ethics with questions like: How should we live our life? Why should we be moral or ethically virtuous? Is morality/ethics objective and universal? Or is it a human construction or some cultural artefact? Are there any true moral principles or universal virtues? Must self-interest be subdued by morality? Does evil exist and can we hold genuine evil-doers morally responsible? How does morality fit in with the rest of science and what else we know about the world? Does ethical responsibility require free will? Are there other valid normative parameters or reasons than ethical or moral ones, such as meaningfulness, prudential reasons, or aesthetic concerns? How do they relate to ethics/morality? What motivates moral action? What justifies moral action? What makes for a good life?

As a part of this work, we organize conferences and workshops on a frequent basis here in Tromsø where both internationally acclaimed and local philosophers and researchers contribute, as well as organizing reading and writing groups. There are also Ph.D. and Post Doc fellowships, whose projects and appointments are associated with the group.

We encourage all those who are interested to contact us, subsribe to our mailing list, participate to our events, as well as vouch to join our research network. See Contact us for more information.


Research topics

Our main focus is different theoretical challenges and problems pertaining to the normative authority of ethics and morality and the role morality/ethics may have in our lives. We address this from a range of theoretical perspectives, both contemporary and historical. We focus on four interrelated topics of meta-ethical inquiry: (1) value theory and normative pluralism; (2) action theory and moral psychology; (3) moral metaphysics, realism and constructivism; and (4) quality of life.

In particular, we focus on the following questions :

(1) Value Theory - Normative Pluralism

The question of how the normative authority of morality relates to other sorts of normative claims and values.

(2) Action theory - Moral Psychology

The question of whether the nature and normative authority of morality has some footing or leverage in our nature - that is, in our nature as agents, persons and psychological subjects.

(3) Moral metaphysics - Realism and Constructivism

The question of whether (or how) commitments to the normative authority of morality fit in with what else we believe about the world.

(4) Quality of life - Welfare, Happiness and Meaning

The question of how the quality of life - and relevant notions, such as meaning, happiness, welfare and so on - relates to the nature and normative authority of morality.

Also, see our Research profile for more detailed descriptions of these respective research fields and topics.