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Henrik von Wehrden
KLI Colloquia
Why the Empirical and the Ethical Need to Reconsider their Connection
Henrik VON WEHRDEN (Leuphana University Lüneburg)
2022-05-05 15:00 - 2022-05-05 16:30
Organized by KLI


Topic description / abstract:

From my diverse experience in empirical research ranging from biology to geography, I invite you on a critical journey to examine the relation between the empirical and the ethical in science. In my talk, I will present a structure of scientific methods from a historical as well as from a design-thinking perspective, offering my view on why scientific disciplines in the West are currently stuck. I will then argue for the need to develop pathways that show us how to get unstuck, away from the constructed worldview of scientific disciplines and reconnecting the empirical and the ethical. Building on critical realism, I make a strong claim to embrace the subjectivity of empirical approaches, all the while making the case that there are empirical facts that matter. In a last step, I showcase that normativity is the central concept that connects this notion of the empirical to the biggest challenge, which is our perception of the ontological. Only if our ontological premises aim at objective truths can we plausibly make a leap towards critical realism, which demands a thick understanding of the ontological, and a clear demarcation towards the empirical. I outline this link with the example between empirical methods and ethics, showcasing how we may gather facts, and how we ought to act based on these. 


Biographical note:

Henrik von Wehrden is a professor of methods at Leuphana University in Northern Germany. After studying Geography in Marburg Henrik made his PhD with a conservation work focussing on habitat mapping and animal protection in the Gobi desert. Henrik's work asks why the way we approximate knowledge and the way we act based on this knowledge became so deeply disconnected in science and society, and how this gap may be closed. 


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