Wouter Peeters


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am happy to supervise students working on political philosophy, global (bio)ethics, climate change, environmental sustainability and intersubjective ethics.


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Personal profile

Research interests

My PhD dissertation examined the challenges climate change and other problems of environmental sustainability pose to our conceptions of individual freedom (the capabilities approach in particular) and responsibility (more specifically, common-sense morality).

Building on this, my current research focuses on the perspective of duty-bearers on issues of global justice. Alleviating human rights deficits such as poverty and climate change will not only depend on action undertaken by collective agents (such as states and international institutions), but also by individuals. However, this suggestion is met with several objections: individual duty-bearers have worries and concerns regarding their responsibilities of global justice. These concerns merit ethical attention since they might impede action.

Examples include but are not limited to the objection that the actions necessary to protect human rights would demand too much of agents (the over-demandingness objection) and the concern that nothing individuals can do will make any difference (the problem of ineffectiveness). Another important question might concern the relationship with other duty-bearers, including institutions, other individuals, companies and NGOs. People also have a legitimate interest in being treated fairly, so they would object to an unfair distribution of the burdens involved in for example poverty alleviation or climate change abatement. 

My aim is to investigate these and other concerns in order to develop a novel account of the duties and responsibilities for realising human rights that accommodates the legitimate concerns of duty-bearers and persuasively debunks their misconceptions.

My contributions to the Justice Everywhere Blog can be read at: http://justice-everywhere.org/author/wouterpeeters/


I obtained my PhD in Philosophy and Moral Sciences in December 2014 from Vrije Universiteit Brussels. In 2015-2016, I was a Visiting Professor in Social and Political Philosophy at Ghent University. Since 1 September 2016, I am a Lecturer in Global Ethics at the University of Birmingham.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Freedom and responsibility in the face of climate change. How the capabilities approach and common-sense morality (ought to) respond to global environmental problems, Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Free University of Brussels

1 Jan 201131 Dec 2014

Award Date: 15 Dec 2014

Master of Arts, Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Free University of Brussels

Award Date: 10 Sept 2010

Bachelor of Science, Educational Sciences (Special Education, Disability Studies and Behavioral Disorders), Ghent University

Award Date: 29 Nov 2007


  • BJ Ethics
  • global ethics
  • global bioethics
  • climate change
  • environmental sustainability
  • human rights
  • individual responsibility
  • global justice
  • JC Political theory
  • distributive justice
  • social justice
  • political liberalism
  • cosmopolitanism


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