Anne Schwenkenbecher  from Murdoch University in Perth Australia.

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    Dr Anne Schwenkenbecher
    Magistra Artium (M.A.) (Humboldt University of Berlin); Doctor Philosophiae (Dr phil) (Humboldt University of Berlin)

    Lecturer in Philosophy

    About me

    I am a Lecturer in Philosophy in the School of Arts and Academic Chair of the Philosophy Program at Murdoch University. Before joining Murdoch in June 2013, I held appointments at The University of Melbourne, the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) at Australian National University, the University of Vienna, and Potsdam University. My PhD in Philosophy (2009) is from Humboldt University of Berlin, my hometown.

    Teaching area


    PHL130 Introduction to Philosophy

    PHL206 Moral and Political Philosophy

    PHL210 Applied and Professional Ethics

    PHL315 Aesthetics


    SWM621 Ethics and Global Justice

    Research areas

    My research focuses on a range of topics in normative and applied ethics, as well as political philosophy, such as:

    • the moral status of groups
    • group action and joint action
    • collective moral obligations
    • ethics of political violence
    • ethical problems arising from climate change
    • social justice implications of conventional and renewable energies
    • public goods and distributive justice
    • political legitimacy

    Much of my current research revolves around the ideas of collective agency and collective moral duties. I think that some groups can be moral agents and hold moral duties. And it seems to me that individuals can hold duties jointly, without forming a structured or organized group and without being an agent in that sense. A solid account of joint moral duties will help us to better understand the moral duties that arise from problems of global dimensions such as climate change and world poverty.

    I also work in the area of political violence ethics, in particular the moral status of terrorism and other non-state political violence. One of the central claims of my research is that terrorism is – in principle – not morally worse than war and that it can – in principle – be morally justifiable.

    Current projects

    Book project: Collective Moral Obligations (under review)


    In this book, I develop a novel theory of collective moral obligations: obligations of individual moral agents to act together with others. It specifies the conditions under which we have obligations to act together with others, to collaborate in order to achieve a morally desirable or mandatory outcome. And it outlines the limits of individual obligations to contribute to collaborations.

    In doing so, this book fills a non-trivial gap in moral theory. Traditionally, ethics has focused on examining the morality of discrete individual actions; the question has always been: what ought I as an individual to do in a given situation X? Yet, traditional ethics does not shed much light on situations in which we act or need to act together with others. However, in today’s world individually inconsequential actions increasingly form part of morally significant collective actions. Our economic, political, private decisions may – taken together with many other similar actions – have substantial impacts on other people’s lives. The complimentary question to traditional ethics must therefore be: what ought we to do?


    Smaller projects:

    • Collective moral action problems and game-theory: The relevance of ‘we-framing’ for collective obligations
    • Collective agency in the international realm: Philosophy of Action meets International Relations
    • Anonymous, online-activism and the agency of large dispersed groups
    • The meta-ethics of climate change
    • Legal responsibility and group agency


    Awards and grants

    2017 – Society for Applied Philosophy Event Funding. This funding will be used for a 2-day workshop at The University of Melbourne (Nov 2017) on Legal Punishment and Collective Agency. The law does not only punish discreet individual agents, but recognizes that incorporated agents can be liable to legal punishment, for instance where a corporation causes harm to individuals or the environment (such as in the UK’s Corporate Manslaughter Act). The law further recognizes that individuals can be liable to punishment for what they have done as members of (not incorporated) groups of individuals, that is, for what they did together with others, rather than individually, for example where a mob of people beats up and kills another person. While the philosophical literature on collective agency and collective moral responsibility is burgeoning, there are very few systematic discussions of the philosophical implications of collective legal responsibility. Likewise, there is much literature on the morality and philosophical implications of legal punishment, but not much of that focuses on collective agency in this context. This workshop is meant to be a starting point for a more systematic debate of the issue of collective legal responsibility. The workshop is fully funded by the Society for Applied Philosophy.

    2017 – Oxford Martin Visiting Fellowship at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford within the Collective Responsibility for Infectious Diseases Program.

    2016 – Mentee of the ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellowship Mentoring Scheme at The University of Melbourne. This is a mentoring program for early-career women researchers in the humanities and social sciences, based at the University of Melbourne, led by Prof Joy Damousi and funded by the Australian Research Council. The aim of the program is to “attract outstanding early career female researchers who have completed their PhDs within the past 10 years in the humanities and the social sciences to an intensive mentoring programme.”

    2015 – “Grant to Support the Initiation of International Collaboration” by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) together with Professor Olivier Roy from the Department of Philosophy and Economics at the University of Bayreuth, Germany (approx. AUD 23,000).

    This grant funded the first in a series of bilateral workshops on the topic of “Joint Duties”.  The workshop was held at the University of Bayreuth, Germany from 1-2 July 2015 with scholars from Australia and Germany. Australian participants included Murdoch University’s Prof David Butler (School of Management and Governance) as well as Prof Toni Erskine from the University of New South Wales (School of Humanities and Social Sciences).


    Events and speaking engagements

    Talks and presentations in 2018:

    September 2018 – co-host of The Future of Environmental Activism Workshop, Murdoch University

    September 2018 – “Do group agents resemble psychopaths?”, Evolving Minds Conference, Charles Darwin University, Darwin

    August 2018 – “Responsibility for collective inaction and group knowledge”, Social Ontology Conference, Tufts University, Boston, U.S.

    May 2018 – “Responsibility for collective inaction and group knowledge”, Moral Epistemology Conference, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne

    March 2018 – “Do group agents resemble psychopaths?”, Mental Health and Moral Agency Workshop, Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics, Australia

    February 2018 – “Collective inaction and group-based ignorance”, St Cross College, Oxford University

    Talks and presentations in 2017:

    November 2017 – Public Lecture for Association for Philosophy in Schools (WA) Annual Meeting on “What we ought to do together

    November 2017 – Co-covener workshop on “Legal Punishment and Collective Agency” at The University of Melbourne, Department of Philosophy, sponsored by the Society for Applied Philosophy, invited speakers: Prof Philip Pettit (ANU/Princeton), Prof Toni Erskine (UNSW), Prof Janna Thompson (La Trobe), A/Prof Bill Wringe (Bilkent), Dr Stephanie Collins (Manchester), Dr Sean Bowden (Deakin)

    June 2017 – Author-meets-critics, manuscript workshop on my book “Collective Moral Obligations“, Central European University, Budapest, invited discussants: Prof Gunnar Björnsson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), A/Prof Bill Wringe (Bilkent University, Turkey), Dr Stephanie Collins (University of Manchester, UK).

    June 2017 – “Global moral obligations” CELPA Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs – University of Warwick

    April 2017 – “Are there global collective duties? (And if so what does that mean?)”, University of Otago; The University of Waikato; Massey University

    March 2017 – “Is poverty our collective duty?” Melbourne Applied Philosophy Seminar, The University of Melbourne

    March 2017 – “Collective moral action problems, responsibility gaps, and global justice”, MSPT Seminar, Australian National University

    Talks and presentations in 2016:

    October 2016 – On Terrorism and the politics of fear for The Philosophers’ Zone, Radio National, ABC Radio

    September 2016 – “Global justice, cooperative action, and responsibility gaps“, MANCEPT Political Theory Workshops, University of Manchester, UK

    August 2016 – “Collective agency, de dicto intentions and pooled knowledge”, Collective Intentionality X, Society for Social Ontology, Den Haag, Netherlands

    July 2016 – “Collective moral action problems and ‘we-reasoning’”, Australasian Association of Philosophy Annual Conference, Monash University, Melbourne

    May 2016 – “Collective moral action problems and ‘we-reasoning’”, Philosophical Society Seminar, University of Western Australia, Perth

    March 2016 – “Collective moral action problems and ‘we-reasoning’”, Philosophy Seminar, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga

    Talks and presentations in 2015:

    November 2015 – “Collective beneficence, perfect and imperfect duties”, Moral, Social & Political Theory Seminar, Research School for Social Science (RSSS), Australian National University, Canberra

    November 2015 – “Shared  agency and pooled knowledge”, Philosophical Society Seminar, RSSS, Australian National University, Canberra (co-author: Olivier Roy)

    November 2015 – “How global poverty relief is not a collective duty”, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University, Canberra

    October 2015: “Collective beneficence, perfect and imperfect duties”, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, University of Melbourne

    July 2015 – “Collective agency, de dicto intentions, and pooled information”, Bilateral workshop on Joint Moral Duties (AU/GER) at University of Bayreuth, Germany

    June 2015 – “Warum kosmopolitische Pflichten keine kollektiven Hilfspflichten sind”, Workshop “Kollektive Verantwortung in der globalen Ethik”, Institute of Philosophy, University of Kassel, Germany

    June 2015 – “Should Climate Ethicists Fear Moral Anti-Realism?” at Climate Ethics and Climate Economics Symposium, University of Graz, Austria (co-author: Michael Rubin)

    June 2015 – “Collective beneficence, perfect and imperfect duties”, Conference on Collective Responsibility for the Future, University College Dublin, Ireland

    May 2015 – “Moral dilemmas for medical staff in armed conflicts”, at Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress 2015, Perth

    April 2015 – “Why cosmopolitan duties are not duties of ‘collective beneficence’”, Department of Philosophy, Deakin University, Melbourne

    January 2015 – “Collective beneficence, perfect & imperfect duties“, Department of Philosophy, National University of Singapore

    Talks and presentations in 2014:

    November 2014 – “Polycentric systems, climate change and distributive justice”, Workshop on the values informing the Integrity System of the Global Climate Regime, at The Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law (IEGL) Australia (a joint initiative of the United Nations University, Griffith University and QUT in association with ANU and OP Jindal Global University Delhi), Brisbane

    September 2014 – Respondent to Janna Thompson “Who’s the Culprit? Assigning Responsibility for Climate Change”, for Responsibility and Climate Change, Workshop at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University, Canberra

    July 2014 – “The Responsibility Gap”, Australasian Association of Philosophy Annual Conference, Australian National University, Canberra

    May 2014 – “Making sense of moral duties to collaborate”, Philosophical Society at The University of Western Australia, Perth

    Talks and presentations in 2013:

    17 December 2013 – “The Limits of Joint Duties”, University of Bayreuth, Germany

    16 December 2013 – “The Limits of Joint Duties”, Philosophical Colloquium, Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany

    13 December 2013 – “The Limits of Joint Duties”, PPPE Club, The Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN), University of Oslo, Norway

    12 December 2013 – “The Responsibility Gap”, Colloquium, The Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN), University of Oslo, Norway

    10 December 2013 – “The Limits of Joint Duties”, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

    4 December 2013 – “The Limits of Joint Duties”,University of Münster, Germany

    17 October 2013 – “Renewable energy, collective goods, and ‘NIMBY’-attitudes”, School of Arts Research Seminar, Murdoch University, Australia

    July 2013 – “The limits of joint duties”, Australasian Association of Philosophy Annual Conference, The University of Queensland, Brisbane

    28 June 2013 – “Renewable energy, collective goods, and ‘NIMBY’-attitudes”, Australasian Association of Professional and Applied Ethics Annual Conference, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle

    6 March 2013 – “Collective duties and public goods”, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics Seminar Series (CAPPE), Charles Sturt University, Canberra

    Professional and community service

    Community Service

    Philosopher in Residence, Hale School, Perth (August/September 2018)

    Philosothon Judge, Western Australia (2013, 2017, 2018)

    Professional Service

    Academic Chair of Philosophy, School of Arts, Murdoch University

    Convenor Murdoch Philosophy Seminar

    Covenor Annual Murdoch Philosophy Colloquium

    Co-Chair of the Honours Sub-Committee; Member of the Teaching and Learning Committee, School of Arts, Murdoch University

    Reviewer for American Political Science Review; Australasian Journal of Philosophy; Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy; Dialectica; Environmental Values; Erkenntnis; Ethics, Policy & Environment; Ethical Theory and Moral Practice; European Journal of Political Theory; Journal of Applied Philosophy; Journal of Business Ethics; Journal of Military Ethics; Journal of Social Philosophy; Law and Philosophy; Mind & Language.

    Member of the Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability at Murdoch University

    Doctoral and masters supervisions

    I currently supervise the following research projects:

    PhD thesis:

    Mark Cooper (Murdoch University)  ”An Ecological Theory of Value” (Environmental Ethics and Political Philosophy), since Jan 2017

    Previous supervisions:

    Master thesis:

    Nathan Wood (University of Bayreuth) “The Role of Proportionality in Just War Theory”, Oct 2015 – Mar 2016, completed (HD)

    Honours theses:

    Rowan McCullough (Murdoch University) “Zeno’s Paradoxes” July 2015 – June 2016, completed (2nd class, level A)

    Mark Cooper (Murdoch University) “A Naturalistic Theory of Value” Jan – Nov 2016, completed (1st class)


     You can view all my publications on PhilPapers.

    Terrorism: A Philosophical Enquiry. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 (read the introduction here; read reviews of the book in the AJP here and in the LSE review of books here)

    Book Chapters

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (forthcoming in 2019) “The possibility of collective moral obligations” in Saba Bazargan-Forward and Tollefsen, Deborah (eds.) The Routledge Handbook on Collective Responsibility. Routledge.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (forthcoming in 2019) “Antimicrobial efficacy, public goods, and fairness“ in Euzebiusz Jamrozik and Selgelid, Michael (eds.) Ethics and Drug Resistance: Collective Responsibility for Global Public Health. Springer.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (forthcoming in 2019) “Renewables” In Ben Hale & Andrew Light (eds.) Routledge Companion to Environmental Ethics. London; New York: Routledge.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2018) “Making sense of collective moral obligations:  A comparison of existing approaches” in Tracy Isaacs, Kendy Hess & Violetta Igneski (eds.) Collectivity: Ontology, Ethics and Social Justice. Rowman & Littlefield pp. 109-132.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2018) “Why business firms have moral obligations to mitigate climate change” In Martin Brueckner et al. (eds.) Disciplining the Undisciplined? Perspectives from Business, Society and Politics on Responsible Citizenship, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability. Series editors: S.O. ldowu and R. Schmidpeter. Springer, pp. 55-70.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2017) “Terrorism and the Prospect of Peace” In Florian Demont-Biaggi (ed.) The Nature of Peace and the Morality of Armed Conflict. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 123-140.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2015)“Polycentric Systems and the Integrity Approach”, In Breakey, Hugh, Vesselin Popovski and Rowena Maguire (eds.) Ethical Values and the Global Climate Integrity System. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 131-138.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2013) “Rethinking Legitimate Authority” In Fritz Allhoff, Nick Evans and Adam Henschke (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War: Just War Theory in the 21st Century. London; New York: Routledge, pp. 161-170.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2011) “Moral Obligations of States” In Applied Ethics Series. Hokkaido, Japan: Centre for Applied Ethics and Philosophy, pp. 86-92.

    Refereed Journal Articles

    Schwenkenbecher, A. and M. Rubin (forthcoming) “Should Environmental Ethicists Fear Moral Anti-Realism?” in Environmental Values.

    Schwenkenbecher A. (2019) “Collective moral obligations: ‘we-reasoning’ and the perspective of the deliberating agent” in The Monist 102(2): 151-171.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2017) “What is wrong with NIMBYs? Renewable energy, landscape impacts and incommensurable values” in Environmental Values 26(6): 711-732.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2017) “Gemeinsame Hilfspflichten, Weltarmut und kumulative Handlungen” [“Joint duties to assist, global poverty and cumulative actions”]in Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie 4(1): 123-150.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2014) “Joint Moral Duties” In Midwest Studies in Philosophy 38: 58-74.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2014) “Collateral Damage and the Principle of Due Care” In Journal of Military Ethics, 13(1): 94-105.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2014) “Is There An Obligation To Reduce One’s Individual Carbon Footprint?” In Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 17(2): 168-188.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2013) “Bridging the Emissions Gap: A Plea for Taking Up the Slack” In Philosophy and Public Issues 3(1): 273-301.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2013) “Joint Duties and Global Moral Obligations” in Ratio, XXVI: 310-328.

    Goppel, A. and A.Schwenkenbecher (2012) “Philosophy and International Law: Reflections on Interdisciplinary Research into Terrorism” In Ancilla Iuris Special Issue: International Law and Ethics: 111–134.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2010) “How to Punish Collective Agents: Non-Compliance with Moral Duties by States (Response to Toni Erskine)” In Ethics & International Affairs, 24(3). Online Exclusive.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2009) “Terrorism, Supreme Emergency and Killing the Innocent” In Perspectives – The Review of International Affairs, 17(1): 105-126.

    Book Reviews

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2017) Cosmopolitanism Versus Non-Cosmopolitanism: Critiques, Defenses, Reconceptualizations, edited by Gillian Brock. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95(1): 187-190.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2011) McMahan, Jeff: Killing in War for Australasian Journal of Philosophy. 89(2): 376-377.

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2007) Beestermöller “’What we’re fighting for…’ – Friedensethik in der transatlantischen Debatte.”(English:“’What we’re fighting for’ – Peace Ethics in the Transatlantic Debate) for

    Other publications (Blogs, newspaper articles, etc.)

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2018) We need to rethink our moral obligations to create a better world, The Conversation, March 18, 2018

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2017) Who is responsible for anti-microbial resistance?, Oxford Martin School, July 13, 2017

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2016) Russian doping scandal: Should other countries pull out of the Olympics?, The Conversation, August 2, 2016

    Schwenkenbecher, A. and others (2015) Philosophers on the Charleston Massacre in Daily Nous, June 22, 2015

    Schwenkenbecher, A. (2015) Are the victims of flight MH17 collateral damage? in The Critique, April 1, 2015.