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Keith Hyams

KH photo

Reader in Political Theory and Interdisciplinary Ethics

Email: K dot D dot Hyams at warwick dot ac dot uk
Room: E2.22

Keith Hyams is a Reader in Political Theory and Interdisciplinary Ethics. He leads the Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group's work on Ethics in Climate and Development, and Future Governance.

Keith's research interests are animated by two questions:

1. How can we achieve adaptation to climate change, and international development more generally, in a way that is both ethical and equitable?

2. How can we build empathic political and economic institutions that can better cope with the environmental and technological threats that humanity faces?

Keith's previous research focused on the philosophy of equality and fairness, particularly in respect of distributions of risk. In 2015 he was awarded the Inaugural Sanders Prize in Political Philosophy for his work on equality and risk. He has also published on the ethics of consent, on justice and sustainability, and on political justification. His work on the Politics of Papua has been cited by MPs, including the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Keith leads the Leverhulme Research Project 'Anthropogenic Global Catastrophic Risk: The Challenge of Governance' (until 2021), with case studies in biotech, nanotech, and artificial intelligence; and the British Academy Research Project 'Tackling Climate-Related Health Risks in Urban Slums' (until 2020). Between 2008-12, he led the AHRC research project on equality ‘Sharing Nature’s Bounty’, and between 2012-14 he was a Leverhulme Research Fellow. He has led four British Academy research grants, an ESRC Impact Accelerator Grant, and has participated in interdisciplinary research projects funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund, the EPSRC, Horizon 2020, FP7, ESRC, AHRC, NERC, and the National Research Council Canada.

Keith holds a DPhil in political philosophy (Oxford), a BPhil in philosophy (Oxford, with a visiting term in Arizona), and a BA in philosophy and psychology (Oxford). Prior to joining Warwick, he was a Lecturer at the University of Reading and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, where he taught moral and political philosophy. He has been a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto (2009-10), a Visiting Hoover Fellow at the Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics, University of Louvain (2012), and a Visiting Academic in the Department of Philosophy, University of Oxford (2012-14). He is an advisor to the Cabinet Office on the ethics of AI and data, and a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Safeguarding for the UK Collaborative on Development Research. He has lived in and worked on international development in various countries, including Rwanda, Guyana, India, Peru, Nigeria, Cuba, Mexico, Indonesia, and the Middle East.

Research Funding

Current Projects

  • 2020-2021, AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund, 'Inserting Ethics into Deliberation on Adaptation and Resilience Policy', Principal Investigator, £99,324
  • 2019-2020, British Academy Knowledge Frontiers, ‘Tackling Climate-Related Health Risks in Urban Slums: an interdisciplinary analysis of the challenge of integrating local and scientific knowledges’, Principal Investigator, £50,000
  • 2019-2022, ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund, 'Challenging Inequalities: An Indo-European Perspective', Co-Investigator, £850,664
  • 2018-2021, Leverhulme Research Project Grant, ‘Anthropogenic Global Catastrophic Risk: The Challenge of Governance, Principal Investigator, £189,985
  • 2019-2021, ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund, 'Urban Violence & Climate Change Network', £150,000
  • 2019-2020, Warwick Monash Alliance Catalyst Fund, 'Improving Earth Systems Governance through “Purpose Ecosystems”', Co-Investigator, £27,268
  • 2018-2020, Warwick Impact Fund, ‘Ethics in Government: Cabinet Office Collaboration’, Principal Investigator, £7,700
  • 2017-2022, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, ‘Climate Change and Indigenous Food Security’, Co-Investigator, £1,220,000

Completed Projects

  • 2018-19, ESRC Impact Accelerator Account grant, ‘Urban Violence and Adaptation to Climate Change’, Principal Investigator, £19,910
  • 2018, British Academy Tackling the UK’s International Challenges, ‘Remedying Injustice in Indigenous Climate Adaptation Planning’, Principal Investigator, £49,984
  • 2016-2018, Global Partnership Fund, ‘Development, Inequality, and Citizenship’, Principal Investigator, £19,970
  • 2016-2017, ESRC-AHRC-NERC Global Challenges Research Fund, ‘Why we Disagree about Resilience’, Co-Investigator, £199,680
  • 2016-17, Warwick Impact Fund, ‘The International Politics of Self-Determination’, Principal Investigator, £6,700
  • 2015-17, ESRC Impact Accelerator Account grant, ‘The International Politics of West Papua’, Principal Investigator, £19,897
  • 2012-14, Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, ‘Solving Moral Conflict’, Principal Investigator, £44,958
  • 2012, Hoover Fellowship, Chaire Hoover, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, €2,000
  • 2011-13, British Academy, ‘Freedom, Equality, and Consent’, Principal Investigator, £7,458
  • 2009-10, Visiting Faculty Fellowship, Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto, £21,500
  • 2009-10, British Academy ‘Equality, Insurance, and Choice’, Principal Investigator, £7,285
  • 2008-12, AHRC research grant on equality and justice, 'Sharing Nature's Bounty', Principal Investigator, £210,000
  • 2016-2019, Horizon 2020, ‘Piloting Responsible Research and Innovation in Industry’, Named Researcher, €1,708,096
  • 2015, External Ethics Consultancy for EU FP7 project ‘IDIRA’ on cybersecurity issues associated with Disaster Response systems, Lead Author, £11,000
  • 2011-12, NERC Valuing Nature Network grant, ‘Bridging the gap between supply and demand for valuation evidence’ Network Member, £49,994
  • 2011-12, EPSRC ‘Bridging the Gaps’ funding for an interdisciplinary ethical, political, legal and scientific assessment of climate-engineering options, Co-Investigator, £6,680

Selected Publications

(Publications are available for open access download from or Warwick WRAP)

Edited Volumes

  • Egalitarian Justice, (with Robert Lamb) Special issue of the Journal of Social Philosophy 44 (2013)

Articles and Book Chapters

  • 'Why Politics Needs Empathy and How to Get It', working paper
  • 'An Agenda for Ethics and Justice in Climate Adaptation', (with Morten Byskov and others), Climate and Development, OnlineFirst at 10.1080/17565529.2019.1700774.
  • 'Mapping Narratives of Urban Resilience in the Global South', (with Maud Borie, Mark Pelling, and Gina Ziervogel), Global Environmental Change 54 (2019): 203-213
  • 'Risk, Responsibility, and Choice: Why Should Some Choices Justify Inequality While Others Don't?', Social Theory and Practice 45 (2019): 21-41
  • 'On the Contribution of Ex Ante Equality to Ex Post Fairness', Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy vol. 3 (2017): 11-35
  • 'Inserting Rights and Justice into Urban Resilience: a Focus on Everyday Risk', (with Gina Ziervogel, Mark Pelling, et al.) Environment and Urbanisation 29 (2017): 123-138
  • 'Climate Justice and Energy: Applying International Principles to UK Residential Energy Policy', (with Tina Fawcett and Ruth Mayne) Local Environment 22 (2017): 393-409
  • ‘Hypothetical Choice, Egalitarianism, and the Separateness of Persons’, Utilitas 27 (2015): 217-239

  • ‘Political Authority and Obligation’, in Issues in Political Theory 3rd edn., ed. Catriona McKinnon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • ‘Equality, Responsibility, and the Balance of Interests’, Journal of Social Philosophy 44 (2013): 392-401
  • ‘The Ethics of Carbon Offsetting’, (with Tina Fawcett) Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 4 (2013): 91-98
  • ‘Rights, Exploitation, and Third Party Harms: Why Background Injustice Matters to Consensual Exchange’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 43 (2012): 113-124
  • ‘When Consent Doesn't Work: A Rights-Based Case for Limits to Consent’s Capacity to Legitimise’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (2011): 110-138
  • ‘A Just Response to Climate Change: Personal Carbon Allowances and the Normal-Functioning Approach’, Journal of Social Philosophy 40 (2009), special issue on the global environment: 237-256
  • ‘Nozick's Real Argument for the Minimal State’, Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (2004): 353-364