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.
In December 2016, I was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant for the project Fair Limits, which examines the distributive rule that there should be upper limits to how many resources it is morally permissible to have. These questions are examined in tandem with several innovations in the philosophy of distributive justice, such as the development of methods for non-ideal analysis, the question of the agency of justice, as well as the question what liberal thinking on distributive justice can learn from non-liberal and/or non-western approaches.
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.
My main aim right now is to finalise a monograph/textbook on the capability approach. I also have unpublished papers on questions of ecological sustainability and procreation, the ethics of institutions, the assessment of economic institutions and the philosophy of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, and plan to do some new work on basic income during the next one or two years.
I currently teach on ethics of institutions, the ethics of capitalism, and the capability approach. At the PhD level, Sem de Maagt and Morten Fibieger Byskov recently earned their PhD degree under my supervision. I am currently supervising Matthias Kramm, and Julietta Elgarte (with Ph. Van Parijs). 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 until December last year, 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 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 taught a masterclass on the capability approach last month.
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 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.
I am Belgian by birth, was granted additional Dutch citizenship in 2013, and live with my husband and two sons in Utrecht.