Anselm Mueller

During the spring quarters of 2014 and 2015, Winfried "Anselm" Müller is the Chicago Moral Philosophy Seminar Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago.

A student of Elizabeth Anscombe and Anthony Kenny at Oxford in the early sixties, Professor Müller has taught philosophy at Oxford University, Australian National University, University of Trier, University of Luxemborg, and Keimyung University.  He has written many books and articles in the following areas: ethics, rationality, action theory, philosophy of mind, and the history of philosophy (especially Aristotle and Wittgenstein). He was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Philosophy in spring quarter 2011 and 2013.

CV (DOC)

Contact

email: muellera@uchicago.edu

office hours: Spring Quarter, Thursdays: 1:30 - 3:00 pm

office: Stuart 202A

 

Recent News

Books

  • Ontologie in Wittgensteins Tractatus. Bonn: Bouvier 1967 (doctoral dissertation).
  • Praktisches Folgern und Selbstgestaltung nach Aristoteles. Freiburg: Alber 1982 (habilitationsschrift).
  • Ende der Moral? Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1995 (in cooperation with W. Greve, Y.‐Y. Han and K. Rothermund).
  • Demokratie: Illusionen und Chancen. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1996 (in cooperation with C. Friedrich).
  • Tötung auf Verlangen Wohltat oder Untat? Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1997.
  • Was taugt die Tugend? Elemente einer Ethik des guten Lebens. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1998.
  • „Laßt und Menschen machen!“ Ansprüche der Gentechnik – Einspruch der Vernunft. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2004.
  • Produktion oder Praxis? Philosophie des Handelns. Heusenstamm: Ontos 2008. 

Recent and Upcoming Courses and Reading Group

PHIL 21504/31504. The Nature of Practical Reason. Practical reason can be distinguished from theoretical or speculative reason in many ways. Traditionally, some philosophers have distinguished the two by urging that speculative or theoretical reason aims at truth, whereas practical aims at good. More recently, some have urged that the two are best known by their fruits. The theoretical exercise of reason yields beliefs, or knowledge, or understanding whereas the practical exercise of reason yields action, or an intention to do something, or a decision about which action to choose or which policy to adopt. In this course, we will focus on practical reason, looking at dominant accounts of practical reason, discussions of the distinction between practical and theoretical reasons, accounts of rationality in general and with respect to practical reason, and related topics. At least one course in philosophy. Spring 2018. With C. Vogler

PHIL 20212/30212. Ethics with Anscombe. Elizabeth Anscombe has deeply influenced moral philosophy ever since the publication of her book Intention and the article "Modern Moral Philosophy". The rise of contemporary Virtue Ethics is only one indication of this influence; and the important themes addressed in those writings are only some among a great many topics raised and absorbingly discussed in Anscombe's work on ethics and matters moral.
This class is intended to track and discuss the most central issues she brings to our attention in her uniquely original and searching way. It is to cover both question in the area of "meta-ethics" and the discussion of basic moral standards, including such topics as: Teleological and psychological foundations; Kinds and sources of practical necessity; The importance of truth; Practical reasoning; Morally relevant action descriptions; Intention and consequence; "linguistically created" institutions; Knowledge and certainty in moral matters; Upbringing versus conscience; Sex and marriage; War and murder; Man's spiritual nature. (I) and (A) Spring 2017. With C. Vogler

PHIL 20214/30214. Final Ends. By a "final end" we mean any purpose, pursued by a human being, whose attainment is not viewed as instrumental to any further purpose. In the philosophical tradition there have been controversies about a set of issues surrounding that notion, and this class is going to introduce you to the most important ones. 1) Is the pursuit of a final end inevitably determined by your desire and nothing else (as Humeans and preference utilitarians think), or are final ends determined / imposed on us by any objective standard / requirement (as assumed by Kantians and classical utilitarians as well as ancient and medieval philosophers)? 2) Does the teleological structure of human agency imply that there must be a final end, and precisely one? 3) If - as many philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant and Mill, assume - a single overall end is imposed on us by an objective determinant, what is this determinant? Is it represented by a conception of human nature (rationality?), of well-being, happiness, of moral or some other type of perfection? Is it individual or social? Is it state or activity? 4) How can the answer to such questions be known? 5) In what sense can an objective end be "imposed on us", or "binding"? 6) Does the existence of a final end - whether determined by desire or independently of it - imply that all practical reasoning should, at least implicitly, start from a conception of it? Or should you pursue such ends obliquely (Kierkegaard: The door to happiness opens outward)? - The lectures will be complemented by preparatory readings from classical and contemporary texts as well as by your own contributions to the discussion of that vital question: Can we say what we live for? With C. Vogler. Spring 2016.

PHIL 20212/30212. Ethics with Anscombe. Elizabeth Anscombe has deeply influenced moral philosophy ever since the publication of her book Intention and the article “Modern Moral Philosophy”. The rise of contemporary Virtue Ethics is only one indication of this influence; and the important themes addressed in those writings are only some among a great many topics raised and absorbingly discussed in Anscomnbe’s work on ethics and matters moral.
This class is intended to track and discuss the most central issues she brings to our attention in her uniquely original and searching way. It is to cover both question in the area of “meta-ethics” and the discussion of basic moral standards, including such topics as: Teleological and psychological foundations; Kinds and sources of practical necessity; The importance of truth; Practical reasoning; Morally relevant action descriptions; Intention and consequence; “linguistically created” institutions; Knowledge and certainty in moral matters; Upbringing versus conscience; Sex and marriage; War and murder; Man’s spiritual nature. (I) (A) Spring 2015.

Anselm Mueller will lead a joint faculty-doctoral student reading group in Spring 2014 on The Good and Other Formal Objects. In recent years, the scholastic, originally Aristotelian, idea that the will is as such directed at the good, has been revived and discussed under the guise of the “guise of the good thesis”. Our reading and discussion of a number of texts is to throw light, primarily, on the question what it is for the good to be the formal object (FO) of desiring / wanting / intending / acting etc. – Suggested questions: How do we determine, for any given F, whether F-ing is oriented towards an FO, and if it is, what is its FO? Why not say, e.g.: “The FO of desiring / wanting / ... is not the good but implementation”? Or: “The FO of judging is not truth but rather knowledge”? (Is there an analogous alternative to the good as FO of desiring etc.?) What is the FO (if any) of animal belief / animal desire? How informative is it really to be told that the (apparent) good is the FO of wanting etc. “just” as colour is the FO of vision, or truth the FO of judging? What is the good in question – acting well / the agent’s well-being / a state of affairs good sub specie aeternitatis / …? Is acratic / encratic desire directed at two formal objects? Is (pace Velleman) all wanting directed (implicitly?) at the good? Is the bad the merely apparently good? If so, does the badness really reside in the will rather than the intellect? How does the notion of goodness as FO contribute to the determination of what is materially good?

21714/31714. Aristotle on Practical Wisdom. In this class we are going to study and critically discuss fundamental components of Aristotle’s ethics, concentrating on wisdom and its role in the practice of the other virtues. Does Aristotle improve on the intellectualist assumptions made by Socrates? What is his conception of practical rationality, what teleologies does it involve? What is the place of practical reason in human nature? Does Aristotle give an adequate account of the difference between technical reasoning on the one hand and deliberation with a view to acting on the other? How do reasons / motives affect the ethical quality of conduct? How are individual virtues of character related to patterns of motivation? How do the wise know how to act? Spring 2014.

27000. History of Philosophy III: Kant and 19th Century. PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. This course is going to focus on an understanding of the most important conceptions and doctrines defended by Kant in his “Critique of Pure Reason”. It will include a study of relevant ideas found in his German predecessors, notably Leibniz and Wolff, as well as a presentation of important developments in the wake of Kant’s work. In this latter part of the course, Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit" is to receive special attention. Apart from lectures, the course will include discussion. Spring 2013.

PHIL 57602. Autonomy: Kant's Conception of the Essence of Morality. (=DVPR 57602) Autonomy is the centre of Kant’s conception of morality. Hence we must try to understand the idea of self-legislation if we want to understand his moral theory, and examine its consistency and implications if we want to know whether an account of morality can be based on it. The course is to include discussion of the Categorical Imperative and of wider ethical questions regarding topics such as moral motivation, law and virtue. Students will participate by reading relevant texts, presenting brief comments on them, and joining in the discussion. Spring 2013.

51490. Topics from Anscombe. (=SCTH 51901) G. E. M. Anscombe is now recognized to be one of the leading philosophical minds in the 2nd half of the 20th century. The class will be devoted to central themes of her philosophy: Reference and substance / Assertion, negation, truth and reality / Causation and necessity / Time and memory / Knowledge and certainty / Theoretical and practical reasoning / Intention and Action / Intentionality and psychological concepts / Private ostensive definition and the First Person / Brute facts and the creation of institutions / Practical necessity and morality / Utilitarianism and Double Effect / Murder, sex and religion. The aim is to understand relevant texts, assess their claims, and pursue the problems raised by them. Spring 2011.