I started studying Philosophy in 2003, after graduating in Telecommunication Engineering. While pursuing my studies in Italy I spent periods at Binghamton (USA), Lyon (France) and Cambridge (UK), and took part in several interdisciplinary research projects on applied ethics (http://profethics.lett.unitn.it) and on the history of theologico-political concepts (http://theopopedia.lett.unitn.it). I got my PhD in Political Philosophy in 2014 and I was Postdoc Fellow at the Leibniz Institut Für Europäische Geschichte in Mainz (Germany) in 2016. From 2018 I am Adjunct Professor in Political Philosophy at the University of Trento (Italy).
The project I will carry out at the MWK is entitled Shaping the Professional. Towards a Genealogy of Professional Ethics.
The genealogy of the moral, pedagogical, legal and economic valorisation of professional activity lies at the heart of my research. The figure of “the professional” undoubtedly plays a leading role, and might even be seen as a prototype, in our society. Neoliberal rationality emphasises the value of a free, intellectual occupation (usually referred to as a profession) and of creativity as the hallmark of work. It seems that in Western societies the profession has become the occupation par excellence, and undermined the category of labour which was central to the social organisation and debates of the twentieth century.
I propose to look at professionalism as an experience, that is, echoing Michel Foucault’s definition, at professionalism as the correlation of fields of knowledge, types of normativity, and forms of subjectivity. The core question of a history of professionalism thus understood is the following: under what conditions has professional activity been valorised and become the object of a problematization, which involves different fields of knowledge, specific norms and a specific way of conceiving personal identity? From this perspective, the moralproblematization of professional activity – that is, today, professional ethics – seems to deserve special attention, given that it involves moral discourses on the professions, developed by theology, law and philosophy (i.e. a field of knowledge); ethical and legal prescriptions (i.e. a type of normativity); andthe skilled professional, who behaves according to these prescriptions and her professional conscience (i.e. a form of subjectivity).
Within this general framework, I will analyse some aspects of the moral problematization of professional activity found in a number of post-Tridentine theologians (Johannes Azor, Thomas Sanchez, Vincenzo Figliucci, Paul Laymann, Hermann Busenbaum, Alfonso de Liguori). My first aim is to prove that there is an ecclesiastical model behind the secular professions and their professional ethics. This can help to reconsider the post-Tridentine input into the evolution of the concept and the practice of profession, and broaden our knowledge of its role in the shaping of European manners, rationality and social control. From a broader perspective, this research has a second aim, which is its key rationale. I suggest that the theorisation on the states of life (particularly developed by post-Tridentine theology) is among the reasons why social-political position, the carrying out of an economic activity, and the fulfillment of a moral and legal duty are inextricably linked in Western economic and socio-political rationality. This is the link ideally embodied in our concept of the profession – and very well expressed by the discourse of professional ethics, which for this reason deserves a close, historical and critical, investigation.
Towards a spiritual empire. The Christian exegesis of the universal census at the time of Jesus’ birth, in: Brown S.J., Methuen C. and Spicer A. (eds.), The Church and Empire, Cambridge University Press, Studies in Church History 54, Cambridge 2018, 16-30.
Che cos’è filosofia politica? Foucault: un’ontologia [What is political philosophy? Foucault: an ontology], Meltemi, Milano 2018.
The Latin roots of ‘profession’. Metamorphoses of the concept in law and theology from Ancient Rome to the Middle Ages, in «History of Political Thought» 38/4, 2017, 603-22.
Il lavoro come professione. Una storia della professionalità tra etica e politica [Work as a vocation. A history of professionalism between ethics and politics], Aracne, Roma 2016 (reviewed by D. Napolitano in «History of Political Thought» 39/2, 2018).
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien Universität Erfurt Postfach 90 02 21 99105 Erfurt