Current Research Projects

Here you can find details of research currently being undertaken by SCEWP staff:

Helen Frowe

Duties To Rescue and Foreign Intervention 

Helen is currently writing a series of papers on the nature and scope our duties to rescue, and their political implications. The first, ‘If You’ll Be My Bodyguard: Agreements to Save and the Duty to Minimise Harm‘, was published in Ethics, and considers the permissibility of saving someone from a lesser harm when one could just as easily save someone else from a greater harm. A second paper, ‘The Limited Use View of the Duty to Rescue‘, is forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, and won the 2019 Marc Sanders Prize in Political Philosophy. This paper explores the permissibility of saving ourselves from a lesser harm rather than someone else from a greater harm. Helen was interviewed about the ideas in this paper for Epoché magazine. A third paper, ‘Liability for Wrongful Assistance: On Causing Unjust Harm in the Course of Suboptimal Rescue‘, forms part of a special issue of the Journal of Applied Philosophy on the ethics of indirect foreign intervention, the result of a recent workshop at SCEWP. Helen is currently writing two further papers on the ethics of refugee policy.

The Ethics of Cultural Heritage Protection 

Helen is currently co-authoring (with Derek Matravers) a monograph on the protection of cultural heritage in war. With Derek, Joshua Williams and William Bülow, she also is co-editing a collection of original papers on the ethics of cultural heritage in war. She and Derek have also written a paper for the J. Paul Getty Trust’s Occasional Papers in Cultural Heritage Policy on conflicts in heritage protection. Helen’s paper on the duty to remove statues of wrongdoers appeared in the Journal of Practical Ethics. More information on this project can be found on the Heritage in War website. Helen also discusses some of these issues in this podcast.


Joseph Bowen

Duties To Rescue and Foreign Intervention

Joseph is working on the permissibility of intervening on the behalf of others, and on the nature of duties to rescue more generally. ‘Humanitarian Intervention, Other-Defense, and Consent‘, forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Political Philosophyexamines the role that the consent of intended beneficiaries plays in the moral permissibility of humanitarian intervention. Joseph is working on two further papers. The first of these asks, if there are sometimes duties not to act in suboptimal ways when performing supererogatory rescues, are those  duties enforceable? The second paper considers how duties to rescue interact with duties not to harm.

Rights and Directed Duties

Alongside this, Joseph is writing a series of papers on the nature of rights and directed duties, building on work completed during his PhD. ‘Beyond Normative Control: Against the Will Theory of Rights‘, published in Canadian Journal of Philosophy, examines the relationship between rights and having normative control over others’ duties. ‘Addressing the Addressive Theory‘, forthcoming in Journal of Applied Philosophy, examines the relationship between rights and being able to demand things of others. ‘Robust Rights and Harmless Wrongs’, under review, considers whether rights are grounded in their holders’ wellbeing by looking at cases of harmless wronging.


Romy Eskens 

Romy Eskens is currently writing two papers on justified partiality in forced choice situations. In one paper, she asks whether people who become imperilled and cause a forced choice through supererogation should get a greater chance of being saved than the initially imperilled person. In the second paper, she considers whether it can be permissible to discount the interests of adversaries and enemies when distributing benefits or burdens. Romy is also developing a paper on third-party gratitude, and a paper on the grounds of legitimate normative expectations in personal relationships.