DFG-Project: Social Justice under the Condition of Scarcity- social-ethical research on the future of social security in Germany on the condition of controlled and uncontrolled migration

A future conception of the German social security system, that aims to achieve social justice, has to take immigration movements into consideration, especially because they have gained a new quality since 2014. However, to think about immigration only in terms of its benefits for a national social security system  is problematic from a social ethics point of view, as it would reduce people in need to their financial value for western economies and social systems. Beyond any consideration for national benefits, Christian Social Ethics as a theological discipline, considers immigrants as human beings, who have a right to receive help, a right to freedom of movement, and a right to live in dignity. Therefore, the original social ethical aim of creating just, social institutions within societies, has to be embedded in a global context. In order to escape the dilemma of differing research objectives between national social justice and global justice, social and global dimensions of justice should not be considered as contrary to each other, but should be thought of as being consistent with each other (Mack, 2015). With reference to the newer philosophical and Christian-ethical debate on immigration, a set of ethical criteria will be developed, which spell out when, to what extent and in which form the admission of immigrants in western welfare states like Germany is a universal obligation, normatively just and ethical, while at the same time considering the limited capacities of national social institutions. What is needed, is a consistent ethical synthesis that explains how humanity can be guaranteed for both parties concerned, i.e. citizens with civil rights and immigrants with human rights, under the existing conditions of limited social security resources,  and within the framework of future and present national and global justice obligations.

Completed Research Projects

DFG-Project "Sozialethische Untersuchung zur Zukunft der Sozialen Sicherheit in Deutschland" (2012-2016)

The project is concerned with the question of how social security in Germany can be arranged in an ethical responsible form with regard to economic, social, and global processes of change. It is the goal to create an idealized model of social security, which proves itself on three levels of justice:

(a) on a level of human rights that includes the fundamental right of a guaranteed humane subsistence level

(b) on a level of social justice with regards to macro and micro aspects of distribution

(c) on a level of social development with regards to the ethic demand upon equity of qualification and participation for all affected persons.

Assuming that the current social system is in need of reform, several types of reforms will be examined concerning their potential for justice and their realization of Christian social principles. Also, they will be examined for their ability of implementation (economically and socially).An ethical framework for structures of social security will be established which likewise guarantees standards of human rights for all potentially affected persons as well as a social settlement between those and enables them of social participation.Those structures should achieve a contribution to greater humanity of the society, and also help to secure poverty resistance, humane living conditions, and the ability for inclusion of the social system.

Research Team

Prof. Dr. Elke Mack

Andreas rauhut M.A./ M.Th.

Dipl.-theol. Bernhard Preusche B.A.

DFG-Project "Absolute Poverty and Global Justice"


To eradicate absolute poverty accompanied by hunger, disease and death of an enormous number of human beings is the most urgent and recent problem of socio-ethical debates. Every year 18 million people die due to poverty-related reasons, 11 million of them are children. If the scientific demand is not only a describtion of problems but also a contribution to the real reduction of absolute poverty, interdisciplinary efforts are necessary. These efforts concern on the one hand considerations about normative foundations of institutions and social systems and on the other hand aspects of implementability. The aims of Christian Social Ethics is to reflect on the necessary instruments to implement a solution.

Supervised dissertation and habilitation theses

Supervised Dissertation Theses

Current Dissertation Theses

Adrian Papenhagen: Eine Stufentheorie der Migrationsethik

Sebastian Rilke: Sozialethisch-Ökonomische Untersuchungen zur Zukunft der sozialen Sicherungssysteme in Anbetracht von Flucht. - Die Bildung von mittleren sozialethischen Theorien.

Completed Dissertation Theses

Marion Bayerl: Die Familie als gesellschaftliches Leitbild. Ein Beitrag zur Familienethik aus theologisch-ethischer Perspektive (ETS 92), Würzburg 2007. Abgeschlossen 2007.

Michael Hartlieb: Armut und Würde - eine Analyse des Zusammenhangs aus sozialethischer Perspektive. Abgeschlossen 2012.

Martin Lampert: Alterssicherung im Spannungsfeld von demographischer Entwicklung und intergenerationeller Gerechtigkeit (Ta Ethika), München 2009. Abgeschlossen 2009.

Andreas Rauhut: Religiöse Ethik und globale Gerechtigkeit: Eine Untersuchung der Verknüpfungspotentiale partikularer religiöser Ethik mit einer globalen Gerechtigkeitstheorie zur Armutsbekämpfung. Abgeschlossen 2012.

Bernhard Preusche: Sozialstaat im Überlegungsgleichgewicht. Die Kohärenz von Sozialrecht, Gerechtigkeitsvorstellungen und katholischer Soziallehre zur Erarbeitung sozialstaatlicher Qualitätskriterien. Abgeschlossen 2016.

Axel Herrmann: Eine ethische Reflexion der Vervölkerrechtlichung des Konzeptes der Responsibility to Protect (R2P) aus christlich-theologischer Perspektive.

Julia Stabentheiner: 'Armut' und 'Entwicklung' in der katholischen Sozialverkündigung im praxisorientierten Vergleich.

Supervised Habilitation Theses

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Laux: Kumulative Habilitation. Abgeschlossen 2009.

Dr. Marion Bayerl: Die Wiederkehr des Religiösen. Religiöse Zeiterscheinungen und ihre Auswirkungen auf die Gesellschaft. Abgeschlossen 2014.