Alexander Heape

Alexander Heape

Postdoc

I am Carlsberg Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Section of Philosophy, University of Copenhagen. My main research is on the relation between moral theory and practical reasoning, in particular on questions concerning the nature and normativity of moral obligations, but I have related interests in moral psychology, normativity, and rationality. 

Primary fields of research

  • Ethics
  • Metaethics
  • Moral Psychology
  • Normativity
  • Rationality

Current research

Presently, I am conducting a research project, Trust and the Social Dimension of Rationality, on how trust in other people (or the lack of it) affects what it is rational for one to do or think. The project is funded by a posdoctoral grant from the Carlsberg Foundation. 

Fields of interest

Obligations

Questions concerning obligations can be divided, somewhat roughly, into three categories. Some are mainly conceptual: What is it to be obligated to do something? Is there a distinction between being obligated to do something and being obligated to someone to do something. What is the relation between one person's right, e.g. not to be harmed, and another person's obligation, e.g. not to harm? Others are more practical: How should I respond to the fact that I am obligated to do something, what kind of role should this fact play in my own practical reasoning? How should I respond to the fact that I have failed to do something I was obligated to do? How does it affect my relations to other people how they respond to their obligations? And some are more straightforwardly normative: Why do people have reasons to do what they are obligated to? Do they have such reasons at all? A significant part of my research explores how different theories answer these sets of questions. 

Moral psychology

I also do research on various questions within moral psychology, e.g. what is involved in blaming another person, what is the difference between shame and guilt, can we respect other things than people, such as animals and object? I am particularly interested in the attitude of trust; what kind of attitude it is and how holding this kind of attitude towards other people affects other normative factors, in particular what it is reasonable or rational for one to think and do. 

Normativity

All of these questions have a normative dimension, and I also do research on questions regarding normativity itself. Is normativity fundamentally about rules, or principles, or reasons? What are reasons? What difference, if any, is there between being rational and responding to one's reasons? How are the domains of reasons and rationality related to other normative domains, e.g. the deontic domain (questions concerning what is right and wrong) and the evaluative domain (questions concerning what is good and bad)?

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