Fabian Wendt Awarded CLAHS Spring Faculty Research Grant

Fabian Wendt, PPE Core Faculty member and member of the Department of Political Science, was awarded a Faculty Research Grant from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. This grant will support his research activities in the spring semester.

Fabian, can you tell us about the faculty research grant you’ve been awarded?

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences offers research grants for tenured, tenure-track, and collegiate faculty. Proposals for projects in the spring can be submitted in November. The application process is straightforward. A faculty committee then prepares recommendations for the Dean of the College who makes the final funding decisions.

Can you tell us about the research project that is supported by this grant?

Cambridge Elements establishes a new series of short books on core topics in political philosophy. The books are to combine analytical surveys with cutting-edge research that advances our understanding of the relevant debates. I was invited to contribute to this series by writing on “The Conduct of Politics”. The book will cover political ethics, i.e. the moral principles and guidelines that apply to politicians (as well as other political agents like, for example, voters or lobbyists). This contrasts with other, arguably more prominent fields within political philosophy that deal with the justice or efficiency of institutions like the state or the ‘basic structure of society’ rather than individual agents and their behavior. One part of the book will substantively discuss exemplary topics such as corruption, compromise, and the problem of dirty hands. Another part of the book will delve into more methodological questions that precede the very project of political ethics. It will discuss the insights and limits of the approach of so-called political realists who reject ‘ethics first’ views of politics on the one hand, as well as the approach of public choice economists who model politicians as purely rational and self-interested agents. In doing so, it will clarify the background assumptions a reasonable political ethics has to make.

Will your research project help to advance interdisciplinary research in the humanities and social sciences?

The research project will be interdisciplinary insofar as it discusses the connections between public choice theory and political ethics – and I am looking forward to that aspect of it. Also, political realism is a school of thought that aims to be sensitive to the facts and realities of politics. It thus criticizes the abstract moral theorizing that sometimes characterizes political philosophy. As such, my project can (to some extent) be understood as reconnecting political philosophy and political science.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about this opportunity?

It feels really good to be supported by the College in this way, and I very much appreciate it!

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