EPLab - Laboratory of Ethics and Political Philosophy

The EPLab is a research structure within the larger research-oriented Nova Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA) at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal.

EPLAB integrates IFILNOVA’s general aim of developing research focused on the role that values play in contemporary societies as well as on the various levels of contemporary individual and collective experience, especially in the context of globalization.

The researchers composing the Laboratory might be divided into two main groups: one mainly concerned with modern ethical/political philosophy, from the XVI up to the XVIII centuries, and another mainly focused on contemporary themes and debates, such as global justice, the problem of political sovereignty or the question of fundamental rights in the European Union. The researchers work in close interaction and counts on active participation of IFILNOVA members integrating other Labs.

EPLAB’s work is organized in four distinct but intrinsically linked research lines:

1) The study of the origin and transformation of values in modernity, namely in the European and North American framework (from the late scholastic, Suarez, through natural right philosophers, Grotius, Hobbes, Pufendorf, Spinoza until Kant);

2) The investigation of some problems in the framework of contemporary debate on the nature of liberty, justice, natural right  or the status of subjective rights, from the point of view of different traditions and methodologies;

3) The study of the so called globalization of fundamental rights and the ways in which the global market interacts with values such as freedom, equality, moral rightness or wrongness, etc.

4) An applied research on the nature of the European Union as an axiological community of political rights and on the European debate on fundamental rights.

Over the past four years, the EPLAB has implemented three FCT-funded research projects, focused on the changing perception and models of justification of individual and collective norms of conduct and conceptions of good life:

-  “Global Justice and International Terrorism” (PTDC/FIL/68987/2006);

- “Post-national Sovereignty: the path of the European Union towards a political identity” (PTDC/FIL/108287/2008).

- “Scepticism and Conservatism” (PTDC/FIL-FIL/112953/2009)

The first project dealt with the “globalization” of the normative-ethical discourse and the evolution of legal and political institutions beyond the boundaries of the nation-state. The case studies focused upon were the debates surrounding “Global justice” – i.e. the discussion of principles of justice on a global scale – and International Terrorism, i.e. the debate around global security issues.

The “Post-national sovereignty” project dealt with the contemporary reconceptualization of political systems in a supranational perspective by analyzing the European Union as the thus far most impressive example of a post-national political entity still struggling with the classic concepts of political theory: sovereignty, nationhood, the state as the paramount political entity, etc.

The “Scepticism and Conservatism” project aimed at establishing and exploring the relation between scepticism (both as an attitude and as a tradition) and political conservatism from a philosophical standpoint, seeking to determine the modalities of existence of that relation in contemporary times and at reflecting upon them and their implications.


Faculdade de Direito Universidade Nova de Lisboa