Print Friendly

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship to be funded as part of an ARC Discovery grant to begin in early/mid 2010. The scholarship is valued at $26,669 per annum (tax free and indexed annually) and may be renewed. The successful candidate will be based at the Australian National University in Canberra.

The research undertaken will be part of a collaborative project to investigate the duties of people in wealthy countries to address global poverty. Two principles are commonly invoked in support of the view that the affluent in the developed world have weighty moral reasons (heretofore referred to as ‘responsibilities’) to address global poverty. The first is based on the idea that because the poor are in severe need and the affluent are in a position to alleviate such need at moderate cost, they have responsibilities to do so – the principle of assistance. The second is based on the idea that because the poor are in severe need and the affluent have contributed or are contributing to their need they have responsibilities to alleviate it – the principle of contribution. The aim of this project is to investigate the meaning, moral significance, and practical implications of these two principles, and to address some of the crucial and often underappreciated implications of the failures of affluent agents to act on their responsibilities to address global poverty. More specifically, the aims of the project are:
• To examine in detail the meaning as well as the ethical and practical significance of the two principles that have been most commonly invoked as grounds for holding affluent persons and other agents to have responsibilities to address global poverty.
• To investigate the common conviction that ethical reasons to help protect people in need are more stringent for those who have contributed to the need in question.
• To explore applications of the two principles in the real world, where there is often quite substantial empirical uncertainty about the contributions that different agents have made to poverty and about the capacities of various agents to address it effectively.
• To provide a clear account of just what ‘contributing’ to global poverty can plausibly be claimed to consist in.
• To examine the implications of these principles for some practical dilemmas arising in the context of international trade and environmental protection.
• To study the implications of non-compliance, in particular what means (legal or illegal) poor people may permissibly use to alleviate their need when such need is due to others’ failure to live up to their responsibilities.

The work will be led by the philosophers Christian Barry, Gerhard Øverland and Thomas Pogge.
Applicants should have an appropriate Honours 1 or 2A (or equivalent) undergraduate degree or an MA in one of the main disciplines relevant to the project (philosophy, economics, or political science), together with a strong interest in the goals of the project.
Further information can be obtained from Christian Barry ( and Gerhard Øverland (

Please forward your CV and covering letter highlighting the area(s) you would be most interested in working on to Mr Ian Sharpe (, CAPPE Business Manager, LPO Box 8260, The Australian National University, ACT 0200 Australia by 15th November, 2009.