Thorsten Helfer

 

thorsten.helfer(at)web.de
Bldg. A2 3, Room 0.21,
Tel. +49 (0)681 302-2351

 

Interests

Currently, I am particularly interested in theories of well-being, normativity and rationality. In my PhD thesis I investigate whether desire-fulfilment theories of well-being require desires that are somehow idealized, and how this concept of idealization should be constructed in order to get an adequate theory of well-being. Desire-fulfilment theories hold that the fulfilment of desires is what constitutes well-being. But this can not be true of all desires. I might want to eat a peanut butter sandwich even though, unknowingly, I have just developed a severe peanut allergy. The fulfilment of this desire certainly does not contribute to my well-being. So, these actualised desire-fulfilment theories seem to be extensionally inadequate. Considerations like this here led philosophers to the view that we need some idealisation of our epistemic position. If we go to one extreme, we could say that only those desires are relevant for my well-being that I would have in the case of full idealisation – after obtaining knowledge of all relevant facts and fully representing them to myself. Such views have been heavily criticized for the strength of their idealisation. The process of idealisation seems to be unclear; under certain circumstances the theory seems to clash with internalism of the good and they might be extensionally inadequate as well. Thus both options – no idealisation and heavy idealisation – seem to be problematic for desire theories. At first view, all other positions in between fall prey to the same objections as the maximally idealised views or are hopelessly ad hoc. My plan for the PhD thesis is to shed more light on this topic of idealisation, and to investigate whether there is a desire-fulfilment theory that is extensionally adequate and can circumvent the problems of idealised desire-fulfilment theories.

Furthermore, my area of interest includes aesthetics (especially its connection to moral philosophy), applied ethics, philosophy of mind and philosophy of modality.

I also have a keen interest in the practical philosophy of Immanuel Kant and David Hume.

 

Biography

  • 08/2018 – present: Assistant Professor, Saarland University, Department of Philosophy, Lehrstuhl für praktische Philosophie, Prof. Christoph Fehige und Prof. Ulla Wessels
  • 04/2016 – present: PhD Student, Saarland University, Department of Philosophy, Lehrstuhl für praktische Philosophie, Prof. Christoph Fehige und Prof. Ulla Wessels
  • 03/2018 –  Assistant Professor (substitution for parental leave), Saarland University, Department of Philosophy, Lehrstuhl für praktische Philosophie, Prof. Christoph Fehige und Prof. Ulla Wessels
  • 09/2016 - 12/2016 and 09/2017 - 02/2018 –  Research Assistant, Saarland University, Department of Philosophy
  • 07/2015: M.A., Philosophy, University of Konstanz. Thesis: »Purely Implicit Reasons and Prudential Hedonism«
  • 05/2015 – 04/2016 Research Assistant, University of Konstanz, Zukunftskolleg
  • 05/2013: B.A., Philosophy, University of Konstanz. Thesis: »Moral und Ästhetik – Eine Untersuchung über die Zusammenhänge am Beispiel von Jesse Prinz«
  • 10/2012 – 07/2016: (Student) Research and Teaching Assistant, University of Konstanz, Department of Philosophy

 

Awards

  • 12/2015: »VEUK Preis« for an extraordinary Master of Arts degree in philosophy by the Verein der ehemaligen der Universität Konstanz
  • 12/2013: »VEUK Preis« for an extraordinary Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy by the Verein der ehemaligen der Universität Konstanz

 

Paper Presentations

  • »Two Dilemmas for Desire-Fulfilment Theories«, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 15th Conferende of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies, July 2018
  • »A Pleasure-Based Concept of Desire and Desire-Fulfilment in Well-Being«, University of Konstanz, Research Colloquium (Early Lunch Philosophy), Februar 2018
  • »A Pleasure-Based Concept of Desire and Desire-Fulfilment in Well-Being«, Saarland University, Workshop in Practical Philosophy, January 2018
  • »Between Intuitions: The Satisfaction Requirement in Desire-Theories of Well-Being«, Saarland University, Research Colloquium, May 2017
  • »Satisfaction Requirement Reconsidered«, Saarland University, Workshop in Practical Philosophy, July 2016
  • »Two Kinds of Naturalism and Hare's Property of the Good«, University of Konstanz, Research Colloquium (Prof. Dina Emundts) November 2014
  • »Moral und Ästhetik – Eine Untersuchung über die Zusammenhänge am Beispiel von Jesse Prinz«, University of Konstanz, Research Colloquium (Prof. Dina Emundts) January 2013

 

Teaching

  • »Immanuel Kant: Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten« (Groundworks of the Metaphysics of Morals) Saarland University, Winter Term 2018
  • »Lernwerkstatt Gleichheit und Differenz: Pädagogische Praxis und philosophische Theorie der demokratischen Schule«, Saarland University, Summer Term 2018
  • »Handlungsgründe und Wünsche« (Reasons and Desires), Saarland University, Summer Term 2018
  • »Wohlergehen, Wünsche und Lust: ein Lektüreseminar« (Well-Being, Desires and Pleasure), Saarland University, Winter Term 2017

 

As teaching assistent:

  • »Nietzsche und die Religion« (Nietzsche and Religion), University of Konstanz, Summer Term 2014
  • »Einführung in die Erkenntnistheorie« (Introduction to epistemology), University of Konstanz, Summer Term 2013 – 2016
  • »Logisch Semantische Propädeutik« (Introduction to logic), University of Konstanz, Winter Term 2013 – 2015
  • »Einführung in die Philosophie des Geistes« (Introduction to the philosophy of mind), University of Konstanz, Winter Term 2012
  • »Formale Logik« (Formal logic), University of Konstanz, Winter Term 2012 – 2014

 

Conferences Organisations

As research assistant: »Neo-Kantian Perspectives on the Exact Sciences« in Konstanz by Francesca Biagioli and Marco Giovanelli, January 2016