Chair for International Political Theory and Philosophy


Goethe University Frankfurt

Faculty of Social Sciences
Institute for Political Science

Cluster of Excellence, House "Normative Ordnungen"
Max-Horkheimer-Straße 2
3rd floor, room 3.11
Map of Campus Westend

Postal address:
Goethe-Universitaet Frankfurt am Main
Fach EXC 14
60629 Frankfurt am Main

Question about Teaching:

Office hours: by arrangement

Team Assistant

Ellen Nieß
phone: +49 (0) 69 / 798 - 31521
fax: +49 (0) 69 / 798 - 31402 
house "Normative Ordnungen"
room 3.12

Office hours for students:

Currently, there are no fixed office hours. Please contact Ellen Nieß via e-mail.                                                      


I am a political theorist and an environmental, moral, and political philosopher. I also have interests in the philosophy of economics, political economy, and egalitarian and environmental politics.

I aspire in my writing to analytical rigor, with attention to argumentative structure and the needs of evidence, and I encourage this in my students too. However, I draw widely from sources well beyond the tradition of analytic philosophy. Theoretical influences on my current research include Immanuel Kant, John Rawls, Thomas Scanlon, G.A. Cohen, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes, Theodor Adorno, Ernst Bloch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John C. Van Dyke. I also engage extensively with empirical work in the Social and Natural Sciences insofar as it relates to the Anthropocene, sustainability, ecological crises, poverty, and human development.

The sort of philosophical research I do is driven by problems in our lives and the world in which we live. These matters are more important to me than problems residing solely in the literature. In my publications over the years I have criticized Hegel’s racism, rejected the form of constructivism that Rawls uses in the Law of Peoples, promoted cosmopolitanism against statism, defended global egalitarianism, developed a conception of reconciliation for transitional societies, advanced an account of Jus ex Bello, defended the right to promote sustainable development in climate policy, defended an account of the intrinsic value of biodiversity and natural systems, criticized discounted utilitarianism, developed and defended the anti-poverty principle and the pro-poor formula for climate policy, and argued for the importance of hope to political and policy responses to climate change and the Anthropocene.

I have published two books on global justice, Cosmopolitan Justice (Westview 2000) and Global Inequality Matters (Palgrave 2009), and two on climate justice, The Moral Challenge of Dangerous Climate Change; Values, Poverty, and Policy (Cambridge 2014) and Mobilizing Hope: Climate Change and Global Poverty (Oxford 2022). Additionally, I have co-edited four collected volumes, and published over 60 peer reviewed articles or book chapters.

My current research project is “Hope for Human Prospects in the Anthropocene.”

Student supervision

I receive many requests to supervise bachelor’s thesis. I accept these requests in the following order of priority:

1. Students who have taken classes with me and who are working in areas in which I have enough expertise to supervise get first priority.
2. Next comes students working in environmental political theory or environmental philosophy.
3. Finally, as my capacity allows, other students working in areas in which I have sufficient expertise, with priority going to students writing in English.

Anyone wishing to have their bachelor thesis supervised by me should schedule an appointment with me through my team assistant, Frau Nieß.



Professional Bio

How I Got Here

An unpublished memoir of mine called On Being (a) Patient: A Philosopher Confronts Deadly Disease is available here.

“[I] tried to ask myself, when writing: precisely what does this sentence contribute to the developing exposition or argument, and is it true? You become analytical when you practise that sort of (frequently painful) self-criticism.” –G.A. Cohen

“Only an expressed thought is succinct, rendered succinct by its presentation in language; what is vaguely put is poorly thought.” –Theodor W. Adorno

Kürzlich veröffentlichte Artikel und Kapitel

Three Interpretations of the Anthropocene: Hope and Anxiety at the End of NatureEthics, Politics, and Society, 3, 2020.

Responsibility for Increasing Mitigation Ambition in Light of the Right to Sustainable DevelopmentFudan Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 13, 2020, 181-192.

Hope in Political PhilosophyPhilosophy Compass, April 2020. Co-authors: Jakob Huber and Claudia Blöser.

Hope for Material Progress in the Age of the Anthropocene” in Claudia Blöser and Titus Stahl, eds. The Moral Psychology of Hope (London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).

Considerations of distributive justice principles in economic modelling of climate change, ” Zeitschrift für Umweltpolitik und Umweltforschung, 2020. Heft 1. Co-author Axel Schaffer and Sebastian Brun.

Economic Contagion and Pro-Poor Social EpidemiologyJournal of Social Philosophy (on line early)

 “The Cry of the Earth and The Cry of the Poor,” in Robert McKim ed. Laudato Si' and The Environment: Pope Francis' Green Encyclical (London: Routledge, 2019).

Real World Global Egalitarianism” in Robin Eckersley and Chris Brown ed. Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Progress, Destruction, and the Anthropocene,” Social Philosophy and Policy, 34:2, 2017, 66-88.

Ending Wars” in Helen Frowe and Seth Lazar eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Ethics of War, Oxford University Press, 2018.

Sophia Halamoda has illustrated Prof Moellendorf's approach to climate justice: