The Ethics of Copying
Copying has always been a widespread human practice. It is crucial in many ways for the cultural development of any society as well as for economic success, and it supports democratization processes by providing access to important cultural goods and information.
But it is often controversial, in which cases and to what degree it might or might not be legitimate to copy an artefact or certain aspects of somebody's physical appearance, or imitate patterns of someone's behaviour, and who should be entitled to raise normative claims that restrict other people's copying activities. Beliefs about the legitimacy and moral permissibility of various types of copying processes, individual acts of copying and ways of handling copies differ profoundly across different cultures, and they are subject to historical changes - due to technological developments as well as religious, political and economic factors.
In modern societies, the most important medium for normatively restricting copying processes is the law - not only copyright law, but also patent and trademark law and laws regulating unfair competition, among others. However, there seems to be a growing discrepancy between the existing legal situation and common morality. Major parts of the existing intellectual property law are not regarded as normatively appropriate by a growing number of people. This discrepancy tends to become even greater given the current shift from owning and copying physical things to merely having access to electronic data.
So far, there is no ethics of copying that could present a just balance of interests for those affected by copying practices. The overarching aim of this research group, a collaboration between legal scholars, philosophers and scholars from art history, art sciences, book studies, comparative literature, German literature, media studies, popular music and sociology, is to develop proposals concerning such a balance which might influence future legislation and facilitate the formation of inter-subjective moral standards for distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate forms of copying.
In order to develop the foundations of an ethics of copying, the group will work on questions like: What kinds of copies should be allowed to be produced by whom and for which purposes? Which forms of copying activities should be restricted from a moral point of view? And how can different interests with regard to property rights and copying permissions be weighed against each other?
Reinold Schmücker (Münster, GER), Thomas Dreier (Karlsruhe, GER), Pavel Zahradka (Olomouc, CZE)
Amrei Bahr (Münster, GER)
Lionel Bently (Cambridge, GBR)
Massimiliano Carrara (Padua, ITA)
Charles M. Ess (Oslo, NOR)
Annette Gilbert (Berlin, GER)
Johannes Grave (Bielefeld, GER)
Darren H. Hick (Lubbock, USA)
Wybo Houkes (Eindhoven, NED)
Alexander Peukert (Frankfurt am Main, GER)
Antonia Putzger (Berlin, GER)
Maria E. Reicher-Marek (Aachen, GER)
Aram Sinnreich (New Brunswick, USA)
Eric Achermann (Münster, GER)
Hans Nieswandt (Bochum, GER)
Grischka Petri (Bonn, GER)
Genetic and Social Causes of Life Chances
How do genetic and environmental factors influence the societal position and social mobility of individuals? Which mediating processes are relevant for the realization of such life chances? What are advantages and disadvantages of modern research strategies such as the examination of single alleles, genome-wide association studies or extended twin family designs? Can the advantages of these designs be combined? How could historical or cross-cultural comparisons contribute to our understanding of the interplay between nature and nurture? Do we have to reconsider our notion of social justice in the face of genetic influences on life chances? These and other questions can obviously only be answered by an interdisciplinary team and will be the focus of our research group.
Recent research strongly suggests that the genetic influences on social inequality, social mobility, and social integration are as substantial as those on personality and ability traits. The "blank slate" metaphor still guiding standard social scientific research in large parts should therefore be abandoned in favor of integrating genetic origin into the explanation of life chances. Omitting the genetic part of intergenerational transmission neglects an integral part of the explanation of life chances because genetic differences between individuals do not only add to environmental influences but also co-vary and interact with such social (environmental) influences in manifold ways. Consequently, the consideration of genetic influences by no means negates social influences on advantage or disadvantage.
Our research group brings together internationally leading experts from various disciplines (psychology, sociology, biology, genetics, medicine, economics, philosophy, and political sciences). Together, we study theoretical models and methodological approaches that can help understand influences and interactions of nature- and nurture-factors. A second focus of our group will be the psychological, biological, and societal processes mediating between genes and life chances. Finally, our group is concerned with ethical-normative and socio-political implications of research results in the area of genetic influences and their connection with societal conditions.
Martin Diewald (Bielefeld, GER), Rainer Riemann (Bielefeld, GER)
Rüdiger Bittner (University Bielefeld, GER)
Wiebke Bleidorn (University of California, Davis, USA)
Denis Bratko (University of Zagreb, HRV)
Chuansheng Chen (University of California, Irvine, USA)
Chris Dawes (New York University, USA)
Jeremy Freese (Northwestern University, USA)
Henry Harpending (University of Utah, USA)
Jutta Heckhausen (University of California, Irvine, USA)
Wendy Johnson (University of Edinburgh, GBR)
Markus Jokela (University of Helsinki, FIN)
Christian Kandler (University Bielefeld, GER)
Lars Penke (Georg-August-University Göttingen, GER)
Reinhard Schunck (University Bielefeld, GER)
Frank Spinath (University des Saarlandes, GER)
Moshe Szyf (McGill University, CAN)
Eric Turkheimer (University of Virginia, USA)
Joachim Wündisch (University Düsseldorf, GER)
Meike Bartels (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NED)
Anders BjoÅNrklund (Stockholm University, SWE)
Avshalom Caspi (Duke University, USA)
Dalton Conley (New York University, USA)
Thomas DiPrete (Columbia University, USA)
Guang Guo (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA)
Robert Krueger (University of Minnesota, USA)
Robert Moyzis (University of California, Irvine, USA)
Roland Weierstall (University Konstanz, GER)