Prof. dr. Ingrid Robeyns

Ethiek Instituut

Ingrid Robeyns works on issues in contemporary political philosophy and applied ethics, and holds the Chair in Ethics of Institutions at the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University. She is specialised in applied and "non-ideal" ethics and political philosophy, and in interdisciplinary and synthetic research, as well as in the development of normative frameworks, theories, and methods that are needed to do this kind of research. In March 2022, she was awarded the highest personal research grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (the 'Vici' grant), which will enable her to set up a research team to study the ethical and political-philosophical structure of visions for the future. This project has started in September 2023, and the team will be complete by the Fall of 2024.

Until the end of 2022, she worked on the the Fair Limits Project, 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 ecological and economic inequalities) can learn from non-liberal and/or non-western approaches. The Fair Limits Project was funded by an ERC Consolidators Grant. In July 2023 a synthetic book (for specialists) on this project was published with Open Book Publishers. Her book Limitarianism: The Case Against Extreme Wealth has recently be published by Allen Lane/Penguin (UK) and Astra House (USA), and will later appear in translation in German, Italian, Danish, Spanish, Russian, Korean and Japanese. 

In addition to the Visions of the Future project, she is involved in other reserach projects, most prominently the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies (ESDiT), which brings together scholars (especially but not only philosophers) from 6 Dutch Universities.

Much of her research in the last 20 years has been on the capability approach, social justice, or desirable institutional change (whether in concrete policies and laws, macro-level systems, or informal institutions such as social norms). In December 2017, she published a book, Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-examined, which gives a general account of the capability approach and can also serve as an introduction to that literature. This book has been published Open Access with Open Book Publishers, and can be downloaded for free from its website.

Ingrid Robeyns aspires to be a generalist, and to bring insights from one line of research to bear on another line of reserach in a different field. Some of the topics she worked on over the last decade are the ethics of autism (and the use of 'labels' in child psychiatry), basic income, the notion of 'human diversity', and a range of burning questions in climate ethics/ green political theory. 

In recent years she have been teaching on the ethics of institutions, the ethics of capitalism, the capability approach, climate ethics, and guest lectures on the topics on which she does research, as well as on public philosophy. She is currently co-supervising four PhD students.

Ingrid Robeyns served as the first academic director of the Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) and, internationally, served as president of the Human Development and Capability Association (2018-2020). She also holds/has held several editorial responsibilities, including as an associate editor of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities

Both in the Netherlands and Internationally, Ingrid Robeyns is a frequent commentator providing ethical/philosophical reflections on public affairs.  In June 2015, she became a member of the 'Philosophers' squat' from in the daily newspaper Trouw's philosophical pages. She was also one of the co-founders of the Dutch blog Bij Nader Inzien. At Utrecht University's Ethics Institute, she took the initiative for the Utrechtse Dag van de Filosofie, a day in which academic philosophy reaches out to the public. She also took the initiative for the Ethical Annotations (Ethische Annotaties), in which scholars from the Ethics Institute synthesise the insights of academic philosophy on pressing social issues for the broader public.  Internationally, she has been blogging at Crooked Timber since 2006, and regularly gives interviews to international media. 


Ethics of Institutions
Inaugural lecture date