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 and synthetic research, as well as in the development of normative theories and methods that are needed to support this kind of research. In the near future, I plan to spend my time contributing to comprehensive accounts of the good and fair society, and our future on this planet.

Until late 2022, I am directing 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 distributive justice) can learn from non-liberal and/or non-western approaches. The Fair Limits Project is funded by an ERC Consolidators Grant.

Much of my 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). For a list of my scholarly publications, see the page with my publications.

In December 2017, I published a book that gives a general account of the capability approach with
Open Book Publishers. The book's title is Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-examined, and the e-version can be downloaded for free from the publishers website (click here). Other topics I recently published on are the ethics of autism, basic income, and issues in climate ethics/ green political theory; I also have unpublished work on the ethics of institutions.

In recent years I have been teaching on the ethics of institutions, the ethics of capitalism, the capability approach, and climate ethics. I am currently supervising four PhD students, and welcome enquiries from prospective PhD-candidates who have arranged for their own funding (please note: Utrecht University does not have PhD scholarships).

I 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) and hold several editorial responsibilities, including as an associate editor of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities.

In April 2018 I was elected (for life) as a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (
KNAW). In 2021, I was awarded an Emma Goldman Award for my scholarly work on inequality, by the FLAX Foundation.

In the Netherlands, I have contributed widely (starting around 2010) to science policy debates, both constructively as well as a critic. Over the last year, I have been very active in WOinActie, an activist group from students and university staff advocating for solutions to labour-conditions-related malpractices in Dutch universities that affect both students and staff - and we believe whatever else the relevant solutions are, it should include an adequate public budget for the universities, which we currently do not have. In February 2021, the Dutch teacher's union AOB awarded me the
Akademiekus for my efforts to improve working conditions in Dutch academia.

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 group-blog Crooked Timber. At Utrecht University's Ethics Institute, I took the initiative for the Utrechtse Dag van de Filosofie, a day in which academic philosophy reaches out to the public. I also took the initiative for a new series (in Dutch), called Ethische Annotaties, in which we synthesise the insights of academic philosophy on pressing social issues for the broader public. In March 2019, I wrote a slim book in Dutch for a broad audience on the moral limits to wealth - Rijkdom. Hoeveel ongelijkheid is nog verantwoord? published by Prometheus. In September 2020, Rens Bod, Remco Breuker and I published a pamflet on how Dutch universities should be reformed, 40 Stellingen over de Wetenschap, published by Boom.

I am currently working on a trade book with the provisional title
Limitarianism. The Case Against Extreme Wealth, which is due to be published in 2023, and is under contract with Allen Lane/Penguin Press, and will also be published by Astra House in North America, as well as translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Korean and Japanese.

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.