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Monika Betzler: "Relationships in Transition: Normative Challenges"

Philosophy, LMU

Academic Year 2020/2021

The CAS Research Group "Relationships in Transition: Normative Challenges" is initiated by Professor Dr. Monika Betzler (Chair of Practical Philosophy and Ethics, LMU) and will commence its work in October 2020.

Close relationships are vitally important to agents like us. When they go well, they have value for their own sake and give meaning to our lives. Yet, close relationships are also a potential source of conflict and a site of competing normative expectations. To date, moral philosophers have mostly focused on three types of relationships: friendships; romantic partnerships; and family relationships (in particular that between parents and children).

The literature in ethics so far has primarily dealt with two sets of questions, namely:

  1. how close relationships can be accommodated by typically impartial moral theories given that close relationships give rise to partiality; and
  2. how different types of relationships can be distinguished and, relatedly, how the associative duties to which they give rise can be spelt out and justified.

There is an important gap in the philosophical debate. Relationships are not static phenomena. They evolve, wax and wane, deteriorate or flourish, and thus change over time. Sometimes they also come to an end. These transitional processes deserve scrutiny, since it is during these periods of transition that the parties involved in a relationship are particularly vulnerable and normatively challenged in distinct and often threatening ways.

The Research Group aims to investigate different types of transitional processes within particular kinds of relationships and the normative challenges they pose. Two types of processes will have particular relevance: (i) divorce as the transition from a romantic relationship to the end of that relationship; and (ii) adolescence as the transition from a parent-child rearing relationship to another type of relationship, namely the relationship between parents and their children on the brink of adulthood who are then to be respected as equals.

Members of the Research Group: