Researchers Contact Information

The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140



Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaça

Photo by Rosie Trudgen


Guilherme has lived and studied law, social sciences and international relations in Portugal, Italy, Israel, Germany and Australia. He taught ethics in international politics, international relations as well as Australian business law while in Brisbane. He has published theoretical pieces on law as a complex social system, the troubles of legal interdisciplinarity and law and governance. More policy/public sphere oriented work has focused on the quality of the Portuguese civil justice system and legislation, political funding and constitutional amendment.

Research: Non-Ideal Idealism: Ethics in/from the "Situation"

I am interested in testing the potential of a number of moral approaches that deny the possibility of a general ethics, focusing instead on the “situation”. In particular, I want to examine whether such approaches can address the “problem of application” in ethics as well as to inquire on the nature and content of normative guidance they offer. In other words, despite pragmatism, Badiou’s ethics and virtue ethics grounded on phronesis’ rejection of ideal theory in normative reasoning, I want to explore whether these approaches do not fall prey to yet another form of idealism.

In the second prong of the project, I want to argue that the thesis that all ethical approaches suffer from idealism is connected to the limits of rationality in ethical reasoning. If we accept deontology we are stuck with abstract rules and if we accept situation ethics we are left with an abstract (even if more realistic) predicament, i.e. that the right action always depends on the concrete circumstances. In this context, I suggest that a way out is to develop ethics as a vocabulary to be used in the form of narrative and storytelling.