Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Distortions of Normativity: The NS-System and Morality


The Nazi system was not amoralism in the classical textbook sense but a specific, though contorted normative order. The basic argument was that political emergency conditions made it necessary to replace the unstable liberal-democratic framework of the Weimar Republic by a 'new source of law : the authority and political will of the Führer. The claim to correctly interpret the Führer s will and intentions became the new foundation of legitimate political action . Consequently emergency decrees, political initiatives, and party agitation replaced the rule of law. The Nazis worked, however, with a highly moralized conception of social reality, based on perverted notions of duty, honor, loyalty, fidelity, and sincerity. The Nazi regime provided people with justifications of policies and measures that for many followers amounted to a 'meaningful story . They managed to set a normative framework within which even fulfilling killing orders 'made sense . A perverted model of practical reasoning was propagated by the highest authorities according to which immediate reactions of resistance and revulsion counted as 'natural temptations' which had to be overcome. The aim of the project is to: - provide a detailed account of the normative order of the Nazi system and the transformations of the key political and legal institutions that it brought about; - analyze in detail the distorted notions of duty, obedience, and decency and the corresponding self-conceptions the Nazi regime encouraged; - explore the implications of our findings for the following broader questions: * How should we assess conceptions of normativity under non-ideal conditions? * What is the relationship between legality and legitimacy under non-ideal conditions? * What exactly are the standards for acting morally under non-ideal conditions?

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call



Universitatsring 1
1010 Wien

See on map

Ostösterreich Wien Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Helmut Schaschl (Dr.)
Principal investigator
Herlinde Pauer-Studer (Prof.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)