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Durham University

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Dr Elizabeth Kahn, MA (Glasgow), MLitt (Glasgow), PhD (York)

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Assistant Professor in Political Theory in the School of Government and International Affairs

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I'm currently writing a monograph exploring the obligations individuals have with regards to global poverty. In the book, I use Iris Young’s concept of structural injustice to develop an account that treats poverty as an essentially aggregative harm requiring institutional change. I draw on Stephanie Collins' concept of a collectivization duty to describe the obligations individuals, who contribute to the reproduction of poverty, have to act responsively with a view to preventing the continuance of it. I propose that taking such action is a mandatory precaution individuals are required to take in order to lessen their chances of contributing to the reproduction of significant Injustice going forward.

In the future I will extend this research to consider whether the aggregate of individuals that contribute to a social environment can be considered the primary agents of social justice. In doing so, I will consider how such individuals can utilise intermediary agents (such as governments) as a means to discharging these obligations.

In 2014 I joined Durham's School of Government and International Affairs. I am part of both the Centre for Political Thought and the Global Policy Institute, as well as being a member of the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Economics and Ethics Network.

Before taking up my post at Durham I was a postdoctoral fellow at Goethe University Frankfurt part of the Justitia Amplificata centre for advanced studies led by Professor Rainer Forst and Professor Stefan Gosepath.

My PhD is from the University of York (supervised by Professor Matt Matravers and Dr Martin O'Neill) and I did my first two degrees in the philosophy department at the University of Glasgow.

Research Groups

School of Government and International Affairs

Research Interests

  • Collectivization Duties
  • Global Justice
  • Human Rights
  • Iris Young
  • Labour Justice
  • Moral Contractualism
  • Social Justice

Indicators of Esteem

  • Conference Funding: Society of Applied Philosophy Event Funding for Workshop 'Labour Market Injustice' (£2000) with Tom Parr and Andrew Walton.
  • Fellowship:

    Visiting Fellowship, Justitia Amplificata, Goethe University, Frankfurt.

  • Teaching Award: ‘Outstanding Academic Support in Social Science and Health’ Durham Students’ Union Annual Awards.

Selected Publications

Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Human rights: Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Ethics:
  • Political thought & theory:
  • Philosophy:


Selected Grants

  • 2016: Labour Market Injustice Workshop (£960.00 from Society for Applied Philosophy)

Teaching Areas

  • Global Political Theory
  • Research Project: Poverty, Injustice and Obligation
  • Social And Political Philosophy: Justice and Ethics in a Globalized World

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