Simon Caney

Simon Caney

Professor in Political Theory, University Lecturer, and Fellow and Tutor in Politics, Magdalen College
Political Theory
Magdalen College

Simon Caney is Professor in Political Theory.  He is the author of Justice Beyond Borders (2005) and many articles in politics, philosophy journals.  His recent work has been published in, or is forthcoming in, Philosophy & Public AffairsJournal of Political Philosophy, Politics, Philosophy & Economics and Social Philosophy and Policy.

He currently co-directs the Oxford Martin School research programme on 'Human Rights for Future Generations'.

In addition to publishing in academic journals, he has engaged in work for public bodies.  He was a co-author of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report Biofuels: Ethical Issues (2011) and has written background papers for the World Bank , the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice, and the International Council on Human Rights Policy.  He is currently a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

My research interests are primarily in contemporary political philosophy (especially theories of distributive justice, equality, environmental justice, intergenerational justice and human rights). I have a special interest in the application of political philosophy to global politics and have written on global distributive justice, human rights, sovereignty, global governance, self-determination, and humanitarian intervention. I also have a particular interest in the ethical issues raised by global climate change and have written a series of articles on equity and climate change - in particular, the relationship between human rights and climate change, the fair share of greenhouse gas emissions, the allocation of the burdens of combating climate change, intergenerational justice and climate change, and the objections to emissions trading. I am currently working on two books.

[1] I am writing a book on Global Justice and Climate Change with Dr Derek Bell (under contract to Oxford University Press). As part of this, I am defending the claim that climate change jeopardizes persons human rights, examining what level of protection from the ill effects of climate change is required, and what justice requires in the face of risk and uncertainty. The book also examines whether the rights and interests of future people should be subject to a positive discount rate; how the opportunity to engage in activities which emit greenhouse gases should be distributed; the ethical issues surrounding carbon trading, non-fossil-fuel sources of energy (eg biofuels) and geo-engineering; what kind of political institutions are needed to prevent dangerous climate change.

[2] I am also currently writing a book provisionally entitled On Cosmopolitanism (under contract to Oxford University Press). This defends a cosmopolitan theory of economic, environmental, political and cultural justice. Many are sceptical of global principles of justice or affirm very minimal principles. I challenge this consensus and seek to defend an egalitarian set of principles of global economic and environmental justice (Part I). I then advocate a series of institutional reforms to international organizations to enable them to bring about a fairer world (Part II). Finally, I explore what rights the victims of global injustice have to secure their just entitlements and help bring about a fairer world, including a right of necessity and a right of resistance (Part III).

I am currently working on the right of necessity; resisting injustice in radically unjust societies; intergenerational justice; human rights; global environmental degradation; and, political morality and international law.

Authority Human rights Democratic theory Environment and Climate Change Equality Freedom and Choice International ethics and global justice Liberalism Representation Revolution Rights and justice Sovereignty States Violence security and conflict

I currently teach the following:


graduate courses

'Rights, Revolution and Resistance: Political Philosophy and Social Change';

'International Normative Theory'



undergraduate courses

'Introduction to Politics: The Theory and Practice of Democracy';

'Theory of Politics';

'Political Thought: Plato to Rousseau';

'Political Thought: Bentham to Weber';

'Marx and Marxism'.


Number of DPhil supervisions completed: 4

A: Book

(2010) Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (New York: Oxford University Press) co-edited by Stephen Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson and Henry Shue.

(2005) Justice Beyond Borders: A Global Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press).


B: Papers


¤ 'Responding to Global Injustice: on the Right of Resistance', Social Philosophy and Policy vol.32 no.1 (2015).



¤ 'Climate Change, Intergenerational Equity, and the Social Discount Rate', Politics, Philosophy & Economics vol.13. no.4 (2014), pp.320-342.

¤ 'Two Kinds of Climate Justice', Journal of Political Philosophy vol.22 no.3 (2014), pp.125-149.

¤ 'Climate Change' in The Routledge Handbook of Global Ethics (London: Routledge, 2014) edited by Darrel Moellendorf and Heather Widdows, pp.372-386

¤ ‘Justice and the Basic Right to Justification’ in Justice, Democracy and the Right to Justification: Rainer Forst in Dialogue (London: Bloomsbury, 2014) edited by David Owen.

¤ a response to Robert Pollin's 'Build the Green Economy', Boston Review July/August (2014), pp.26-27.



¤ ‘Onora O’Neill on the Agents of Global Justice’ in Reading O’Neill (London: Routledge, 2013) edited by David Archard, Monique Deveaux, Neil Manson and Daniel Weinstock, pp.133-156.



¤ 'Just Emissions', Philosophy & Public Affairs vol.40 no.4 (2012), pp.255-300.

¤ 'Addressing Poverty and Climate Change: The Varieties of Social Engagement', Ethics & International Affairs vol.26 no.2 (Summer) (2012), pp.191-216.



¤ 'Humanity, Associations and Global Justice: A Defence of Humanity-Centred Cosmopolitan Egalitarianism', The Monist vol.94 no.4 (2011), pp.506-534.

¤ ‘Emissions Trading: Unethical, Ineffective and Unjust?’ (with Cameron Hepburn) in Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement vol.69 (2011), pp.201-234. This will also be reprinted in a Cambridge University Press book edited by Anthony O’Hear.

¤ ‘Justice and the Duties of the Advantaged: A Defence’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy vol.14 no.4 (2011), pp.439-448.

¤ 'Gerechtigkeit, faire Verfahren und Globales Regieren’ in Die Herausbildung Normativer Ordnungen (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2011) edited by Rainer Forst and Klaus Günther.

¤ 'Climate Change, Energy Rights and Equality' in The Ethics of Global Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) edited by Denis Arnold, pp.77-103.

¤ 'Markets, Morality and Climate Change: What, if anything, is Wrong with Emissions Trading?', New Political Economy vol.15 no.2 (2010), pp.197-224.

¤ 'Climate Change and the Duties of the Advantaged', Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy vol.13 no.1 (2010), pp.203-228.

¤‘Cosmopolitanism’ in Ethics and World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) edited by Duncan Bell, pp.146-163.

¤ 'Climate Change and the Future: Time, Wealth and Risk', Journal of Social Philosophy vol.40 no.2 (2009), pp.163-186. This is available at:

¤ 'Justice and the Distribution of Greenhouse Gas Emissions', Journal of Global Ethics vol.5 no.2 (2009), pp.125-146.

¤ 'Justice, Morality and Carbon Trading’, Ragion Pratica vol.32 June (2009), pp.203-227.

¤ 'Climate Change, Human Rights and Moral Thresholds' in Human Rights and Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), edited by Stephen Humphreys, pp.69-90.

¤ ‘The Responsibilities and Legitimacy of Economic International Institutions’ in Justice, Legitimacy and Public International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), edited by Lukas Meyer, pp.92-122.

¤ 'Cosmopolitanism and Justice' in Contemporary Debates in Political Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009) edited by Thomas Christiano and John Christman, pp.387-407.

¤ 'Human Rights, Responsibilities and Climate Change' in Global Basic Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) edited by Charles Beitz and Robert Goodin, pp.227-247.

¤ ‘Cosmopolitanism, Culture and Well-Being’ in Nationalism and Multiculturalism in a World of Immigration (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) edited by Nils Holtug, Sune Laegaard and Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, pp.21-52.


¤ ‘Global Distributive Justice and the State’, Political Studies vol.56 no.3 (2008), pp.487-518.

¤ ‘Climate Change, Human Rights and Discounting’, Environmental Politics vol.17 no.4 July (2008), pp.536-555. [A revised version is being published in Climate Change, Ethics, and Human Security (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) edited by Karen O'Brien and Asunción Lera St. Clair.]


¤ 'Justice, Borders and the Cosmopolitan Ideal - A Reply to Two Critics', Journal of Global Ethics,vol.3 no.2, pp.269-276.

¤ 'Egalitarian Liberalism and Universalism' in Multiculturalism and Political Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), edited by Anthony Laden and David Owen, pp.151-172.

¤ ‘Global Poverty and Human Rights: the Case for Positive Duties’ in Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), edited by Thomas Pogge, pp.275-302.


¤ ‘Cosmopolitanism, Democracy and Distributive Justice’, The Canadian Journal of Philosophy, supplementary volume 31 (2006), pp.29-63.

¤ ‘Environmental Degradation, Reparations and the Moral Significance of History’, Journal of Social Philosophy, vol.73 no.3 (2006), pp.464-482.

¤ ‘Cosmopolitan Justice and Institutional Design: An Egalitarian Liberal Conception of Global Governance’, Social Theory and Practice, vol.32 no.4 (2006), pp.725-756. This can be accessed at:

¤ ‘Global Justice: From Theory to Practice’, Globalizations, vol.3 no.2 (2006), pp.121-137. [This is reprinted in Globalization and the Global Politics of Justice (London: Routledge, 2008) edited by Barry Gills.]

¤ ‘Global Justice, Rights and Climate Change’, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence vol.XIX no.2 (2006), pp.255-278.


¤ ‘Cosmopolitan Justice, Responsibility and Global Climate Change’, Leiden Journal of International Law vol.18 no.4 (2005), pp.747-775. [This is reprinted in The Global Justice Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007) edited by Thom Brooks.] This can be accessed at:

¤ ‘Global Interdependence and Distributive Justice’, Review of International Studies, vol.31 no.2 (2005), pp.389-399.



C: Reports

¤ Nuffield Council on Bioethics Biofuels: Ethical Issues (London: Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 2011) I was a member of the Working Party that produced this report. The report is available here:

¤ 'Ethics and Climate Change', a Report for the World Bank. [16,500 words]

¤ 'Climate Technology Transfer: A Derivation of Rights- and Duty- Bearers from Fundamental Human Rights', a Report for the International Council on Human Rights Policy. [17,000 words]. The report (Beyond Technology Transfer: Human Rights in a Climate Constrained World (Geneva: ICHRP, 2011)) is available here:


Ethics and Climate Change

Global Justice (global poverty and inequalities and the responsibilities of the affluent; fair trade; human rights).

Human Rights

Intergenerational Justice (environmental sustainability;demographic change; institutional mechanisms for encouraging political actors to give due weight to the long-term).