Doctoral position on biodiversity and the economy

University of Gothenburg, Sweden, is seeking to hire a (fully salaried) doctoral candidate in the intersection of environmental and economic ethics. The candidate will join the Financial Ethics Research Group which consists of philosophers and economists dedicated to ethical and political issues raised by the financial system (in the broadest sense). More specifically, the candidate will be connected to the research program Mistra Finance to Revive Biodiversity, which is a program funded by Mistra – the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research.

The term “biodiversity” denotes the variety and variability of life on Earth, including the variety of species and ecosystems. Unfortunately, mankind’s failure to recognize the importance of and to successfully manage biodiversity has led to what is now considered a sixth mass extinction of species. The continued loss of biodiversity is eroding the foundation of all societies and economies, including our Western system of financial capitalism. Yet it has been difficult to express this loss in economic or financial terms, which may be one of the reasons why previous efforts to halt biodiversity loss have failed.

Voices are now being raised for making economic agents, such as multinational companies and financial investors, become more engaged in these efforts. After all, in financial capitalism, companies and investors command substantial stewardship over the allocation of resources which could be put to use to revive biodiversity. But in order to do so, these economic agents must be provided with both suitable knowledge and powerful incentives to consider the effects of their activities on species and ecosystems. So precisely how can this be achieved? And, more generally, is it really possible to connect environmental and economic values in a sufficiently robust manner?

This doctoral position allows the candidate to explore the topic of environmental versus economic aspects of biodiversity in greater detail. We welcome proposals that are grounded in environmental ethics or economic ethics (or both). Furthermore, the candidate is expected to propose and explore his or her own ‘twist’ or perspective on the topic, on the basis of stringent philosophical analysis and argumentation. Some examples of interesting research questions in this regard are:

  • What is the value of biodiversity? Does it have intrinsic or only instrumental value? Can this value be captured by some more specific ethical or economic theory?
  • Can and should we put a price on biodiversity? That is, can and should we use markets and economic thinking in order to protect species and ecosystems? Or would this count as “commodifying” nature in an unethical way?
  • What duties, if any, do economic agents like companies and investors have to protect biodiversity? How do such duties square with their traditional economic role?
  • What policies can the state legitimately pursue to safeguard biodiversity? Do these include substantial regulations of markets and financial flows? Should we understand biodiversity loss as a market externality?
  • To what degree should we permit investors to prioritize biodiversity over other important environmental goals, such as climate change adaption and mitigation? How much should policymakers guide investors in weighing biodiversity preservation versus other similarly important objectives?
  • To what extent can existing economic theories capture or explain the value of biodiversity? Is the mass extinction of species a failing of the economic sciences?

Applications must be received by: January 9, 2023

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. See more here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s