Dr Sean Aas

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Dr Sean Aas
Home Postdoctoral Fellowship ProgrammeFellows 2012/2013Dr Sean Aas

Dr Sean Aas

Postdoctoral Fellow 

Research topic

»Global Injustice: Theory and Practice«

Project outline

We do not live in a just world. Many states unjustly abuse their own citizens. Many others unjustly dominate other states. But is the world at large unjust only in the sense that it contains unjust states, unjustly related? I have argued, to the contrary, that the world is unjust for the same, broadly egalitarian, reasons that many existing state-based societies are unjust—because the state system, like many particular states, does not give those who cooperate to constitute it a fair return on their contributions. My project going forward is to deepen and refine the argument for this conclusion; and then, to ask what intellectual and practical commitments follow from it. Because my substantive convictions about global injustice point in this pessimistic direction, I am also deeply interested in methodological questions about the relation between intellectual theory and political practice. In particular,
I would like to know whether a theory of justice and injustice has to be capable of telling us as individuals what to do about injustice; or rather (as I suspect) only, of telling us how to feel about our involvement in unjust patterns of collective action that we may or may not be able to do anything about. Answers to these question, I believe, could help to settle ongoing debates about the value of unrealistically utopian political theories; and thus to shed light on whether and how practical political considerations should constrain the intellectual activities of normative political theorists. (Sean Aas)

During his year as a post-doc fellow with »Justitia Amplificata«, Sean Aas mainly worked on question concerning justice and injustice. Crowned by the conference »Relational Injustice: Social and Global«, organized by himself and other fellows at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Bad Homburg, Aas has been working on his approach to moral issues as one based on ethics of conscience and individual ethics. He will continue this work as a fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland (USA).

The NIH are affiliated to the US state Department of Health and are sustaining a variety of institutes besides the giant research hospital. The »Department of Clinical Bioethics« here tkas the role of an ethical advisory board, counselling all biomedical areas. Grown out of only one workplace, the Department today has more than twenty medical doctors, professors of philosophy and law as well as pre- and postdoc fellows.