• CSU
  • University of Melbourne

This research centre ceased operation on 31 December 2016. This website is archived. There will be no further updates to this site.


Economics and Innovation

The program focuses on central ethical issues arising in the economic sphere. These include the justice of national and global economic arrangements, such as taxation, fiscal, labour and property law, and financial and trading regimes. Specific areas include markets in education and the economics of climate change. The program also examines corporate responsibilities in the spheres of finance, profitability, sustainability and human rights, and distributive justice. It aims to make a major contribution to the ethical understanding of innovation and technology. Program members realize that technical, scientific, legal and social science expertise is vital, and work with practitioners in the relevant professions.


Research in this program examines a range of issues that arise from the nature and value of the natural, and also the artificial environment, and our relationship with them. These include issues of justice and responsibility in relation to possession of, access to, and exploitation of land, water, and other (renewable and non-renewable) natural resources, ethical issues in climate change mitigation and adaptation, including those involving geo-engineering, and the human role in the anthropocene. 


This program addresses issues in bioethics, healthcare ethics, and public health ethics. This includes conceptual work on the ethics of procreation, the ethics of providing medical treatment to vulnerable groups such as children, dual use issues in the biological sciences, and the distinction between medical treatment and human enhancement. It also includes work on practical ethical issues arising in healthcare, including moral and regulatory challenges of experimental therapies, difficulties facing medical research ethics committees, and the problem of determining when conscientious objections are legitimate in healthcare.


This program addresses a variety of conceptual and practical ethical issues that are generated for the most part by the phenomena of war, humanitarian intervention, terrorism, crime and corruption. These include the nature and application of Just War Theory, morality and self-defense, principles of criminal liability, justification for police use of force, ethics of counter-terrorism tactics, anti-corruption systems and ethical issues in cyber-security.


2015 Annual Report [.pdf]

CAPPE Events

Seminar 28th September

Norvo Lo - La Trobe University

This paper discusses social attitudes towards feeding neighbourhood wild birds. It connects different and often opposing attitudes on the issue to three schools of philosophy regarding animals and nature. These include animal liberation ethics, wilderness preservation ethics,and anthropocentrism. 

Contact CAPPE for more information.


Professor Seumas Miller

Institutional Corruption and The Capital Markets  More

Fixing the Fix - Benchmark Reform and the Future of Financial Regulation  More

Designing-in-Ethics: A Compulsary Retirement Savings System  More

Dr Stephen Clarke

On Religious Violence, ABC Western Plains 'Mornings', radio interview  More

Past media events

Dr Sagar Sanyal
Telephone +61 (03) 9035-3642

Location: Old Quad Building, room 115

View my cv (.pdf)


Academic Profile

I received my doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in 2009. My research interests lie primarily in the areas of global justice and democratic politics, with interests in issues including the political economics of development, military and covert institutions, opinion forming institutions such as the mass media and academia, policy capture mechanisms, and corruption. I endeavour to base my work in empirical and multi-disciplinary approaches, as I take this to be necessary for an adequate understanding of the institutions that enable various global injustices. Outside of political philosophy, my abiding philosophical interest lies in the work of Immanuel Kant.

I believe that the dominant liberal tradition of analytic political philosophy is too ideal- and principle- oriented and insufficiently interested in the facts of politics and in the analyses of related academic disciplines. Greater concern with the ignored issues forces us to the more radical end of broadly liberal political philosophy – to the traditions of democratic socialism and anarchism. My approach to moral and political philosophy stems from diverse influences spanning the continuum from the theoretical to the political. Some of these influences are Immanuel Kant, J S Mill, Karl Marx, Rabindranath Thakur, Bertrand Russell, John Dewey, John Rawls, Henry Allison, Allen Wood, Amartya Sen, Thomas Pogge, Gerald Cohen, Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Arundhati Roy, Vijay Prashad, and more personally, Philip Catton, Graham Macdonald and Tony Coady.

As research fellow, I contribute to two projects. One is ‘Moral Conservatism, Human Enhancement and the ‘Affective Revolution’ in Moral Psychology’, with Steve Clarke, Julian Savulescu and Tony Coady. The second is on humanitarian intervention and war, with Tony Coady.


Academic Publications

Sagar Sanyal. "A Defence of Democratic Egalitarianism" in Journal of Philosophy vol. 109 (7) pp.413-34) ( )

Abstract: This is a constructive response to a 2008 article by Kok-Chor Tan. It outlines a version of democratic egalitarianism to complement, rather than compete against, luck egalitarianism. The concepts of autonomy and domination are used to elaborate democratic equality, and I suggest a broadening in the understandings of distributive justice; of why distributive justice matters; and of the concepts of grounding and substantive principles (in relation to distributive justice).

Sagar Sanyal. "US Military and Covert Action and Global Justice," in International Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (2), 2009, pp.213–234 (335kb pdf).


Abstract: US military intervention and covert action is a significant contributor to global injustice. Discussion of this contributor to global injustice is relatively common in social justice movements. Yet it has been ignored by the global justice literature in political philosophy. This paper aims to fill this gap by introducing the topic into the global justice debate. While the global justice debate has focused on inter-national and supra-national institutions, I argue that an adequate analysis of US military and covert action must focus on domestic institutions of the US. I describe many such institutions including industry lobbying, the ubiquity of US military bases abroad, US programs for training foreign militaries, secrecy of the intelligence and military agencies, pliant news media and government propaganda.

Sagar Sanyal. Political Equality and Global Poverty: An Alternative Egalitarian Approach to Distributive Justice. Dissertation, University of Canterbury, 2009 (530kb pdf).


Abstract: I argue that existing views in the political equality debate are inadequate. I propose an alternative approach to equality and argue its superiority to the competing approaches. I apply the approach to some issues in global justice relating to global poverty and to the inability of some countries to develop as they would like. In this connection I discuss institutions of international trade, sovereign debt and global reserves and I focus particularly on the WTO, IMF and World Bank.


Selected other Publications

‘Systematic Pressures behind US military and covert action’; NZ Peace Researcher; January 2010

‘Context for the arrests of 15 Oct 2007’;; 20 November 2007.


Teaching in 2014

I teach two masters-level courses at the University of Melbourne, one in each semester:

PHIL90029 Environment, sustainability and future generations

Alongside topics in environmental ethics and environmental justice, the course also looks at matters of political economy like institutional drivers of consumerism, corporate lobbying and political agenda-setting, and world hunger.

PHIL90010 Global Justice

Alongside debates in distributive justice and nationalism/cosmopolitanism, the course also looks at the historical and political economic context for injustice, drawing on writers such as Noam Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson on empire and the military-industrial complex; Eric Hobsbawm on nationalism; and Vijay Prashad on the Third World Project.


Current interests

Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century: money, power and the origins of our times, Verso, 1994.

John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State, 1967.

Alan Carter, A Radical Green Political Theory, Routledge, 1999.

Harry van der Linden, Kantian Ethics and Socialism, Hackett, 1988.

Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations, Verso, 2012.

Vijay Prashad, Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, AK Press, 2012.


Boston Review ( )

Noam Chomsky ( )

Foreign Policy In Focus ( )

Democracy Now (link to )

The Real News ( )

Tom Dispatch ( )

Media Lens ( )

FAIR ( )

Monthly Review ( )

New Left Review ( )

Tehelka (India) ( )

Frontline (India) ( )

Sanhati (India, Bengal) ( )

Upside Down World (Latin America) ( )

Pambazuka (Africa) ( )