I work on issues in contemporary political philosophy and applied ethics, and hold the Chair in Ethics of Institutions at the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University. I am especially interested in applied and non-ideal philosophy and in interdisciplinary research, as well as in the development of normative theories and methods that are needed to support this kind of research.
I hold an MSc in Economics and an MA in Philosophy, and received my PhD degree for a thesis on gender inequality and the capability approach from Cambridge University, where I was supervised by Amartya Sen.
Much of my research in the last 15 years has been on the capability approach, social justice, or desirable institutional change (whether in concrete policies and laws, more macro-level systems, or informal institutions such as social norms). For a list of my scholarly publications, see the next page with my publications.
Apart from finalising a monograph on the capability approach, the main topic on which I am currently working is an analysis of the plausibility of limitarianism as a distributive rule for justice in the non-ideal world. I also have unpublished papers on questions of ecological sustainability and procreation, the ethics of institutions, the assessment of economic institutions and the philosophy of autism.
I currently teach on ethics of institutions, the ethics of capitalism, and the capability approach. At the PhD level, I am currently supervising Morten Fibieger Byskov (with B. van den Brink), Sem de Maagt (with R. Claassen and M. Düwell), Julietta Elgarte (with Ph. Van Parijs) and Matthias Kramm. If I have vacancies for PhD projects, they will be advertised widely, including on the 'News' page; in addition I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD-candidates who have arranged for their own funding.
I have been the Chairperson of the Ethics/Practical Philosophy Chamber of the Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) since its founding in January 2013, and also served as the first director of the OZSW. Between 2010 and 2015 I held a term as a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. I have contributed widely to science policy debates and developments, both constructively as well as as a critic. I hold several editorial responsibilities, including as an associate editor of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.
In 2016-7, I hold a visiting affiliation with the Government Department of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE), where I will spend several weeks spread through the year, and will teach a masterclass on the capability approach.
I actively contribute to public debates, including (in Dutch) via the academic philosophy blog Bij Nader Inzien and in the daily newspaper Trouw's philosophical pages, and (in English) via the groupsblog Crooked Timber. At Utrecht University's Ethics Institute, I took the initiative for a new series (in Dutch), called Ethische Annotaties, in which we will synthesise the insights of academic philosophy on pressing social issues for the broader public.
I am Belgian by birth, was granted additional Dutch citizenship in 2013, and live with my husband and two sons in Utrecht.