Dr. Michel Bourban

Boschstr. 1
Telefon: +49 162 579 2904


  • Since January 2018
    Postdoctoral Researcher in philosophy at Kiel University, on the project “Supporting adaptation to sea level rise in Small Island Developing states”, funded by the Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean”.
    Scientific Expert for the Swiss NGO EthiX for the project “Innovation Ethics”, 2nd mandate.
  • September 2017 – December 2017
    Research Assistant at the University of Lausanne at the Institute of Geography and Sustainability for the research project “Ethics for the Anthropocene”
    Scientific Expert for the Swiss NGO EthiX for the project “Innovation Ethics”, 1st mandate.
  • January 2017 – July 2017
    Junior Lecturer at the University of Lausanne in modern and contemporary philosophy.
  • November 2013 – December 2016
    PhD Candidate at Paris-Sorbonne University, joint supervision of my dissertation “Climate Justice: Duties and Corresponding Policies” (in French). PhD in Philosophy with the highest distinction in December 2016.
  • August 2012 – December 2016
    PhD Candidate and Teaching Assistant at the University of Lausanne in modern and contemporary philosophy. PhD in Arts with the highest distinction in December 2016.
  • October 2010 – June 2012
    MA student in Political Philosophy and Ethics at Paris-Sorbonne University. Master in Political Philosophy and Ethics in July 2012 with the highest distinction.
  • August 2011 – December 2011
    Visiting student at Columbia University, Department of Philosophy and School of International and Public Affairs
  • September 2007 – June 2010
    BA Student at the University of Lausanne. Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Philosophy, Political Science and English.
  • October 2009 – June 2010
    Erasmus Student at Paris-Sorbonne University in philosophy and English.

Scholarships and Prizes

  • 2017: Faculty of Arts prize from the University of Lausanne for my dissertation “Climate Justice: Duties and Corresponding Policies” (in French).
  • 2013-2016: Scholarship for the joint supervision of my dissertation by Swissuniversities.
  • Fall semester 2010 :Scholarship by the Columbia-Penn Program in Paris and mobility scholarship by the Swiss Study Foundation for my semester at Columbia University.
  • Academic year 2009-2010: Erasmus scholarship and mobility scholarship by the Swiss Study Foundation for my academic year at Paris-Sorbonne University.


  • Since January 2018
    I am working with Christian Baatz and Konrad Ott on the problems of justice raised by climate adaptation finance, with a special interest for coastal regions and small island developing states. We explore several criteria that allow to prioritize the distribution of adaptation finance to ensure that those who need it the most can benefit from it. Three main criteria are: vulnerability, efficiency and democracy. 


Focus of research

  • Climate Justice and Climate Ethics
    I am working on major philosophical problems raised by climate change, both from the perspective of political philosophy (principles of justice, duties of the States, institutional reforms) and ethics (individual climate duties, motivation to act, values). Lately, I have been particularly interested in the ethics of geoengineering, non-anthropocentric climate ethics and loss and damage resulting from climate change.
  • Ethics in the Anthropocene
    I conceive the Anthropocene as a general theoretical framework for philosophical reflection on normative notions such as responsibility and harm. This new geological epoch pushes us to rethink our ethical theories and how to understand individual responsibility in the face of current ecological problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss.

  • Global Justice and Human Rights
    I am also interested in theories of global justice, and more specifically in world poverty and the problems of moral and political philosophy linked to this topic. I support a human rights approach that not only highlights major injustices caused by current institutional structures (for instance the ones that regulate the exploitation and the trade of natural resources), but that also proposes concrete solutions such as just and politically feasible institutional reforms.


The following list includes the teachings I have given as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Lausanne (in French)

Spring semester 2017

  • BA seminar: Classical texts in modern political philosophy (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant)

Fall semester 2016

  • BA seminar: Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and its contemporary readings

  • BA lecture: Human rights: theories, challenges and critiques

Spring semester 2016

  • BA seminar: Locke’s Second Treatise of Government

  • BA lecture: Introduction to modern political philosophy

Fall semester 2015

  • MA seminar: Political philosophy: from global to intergenerational justice

  • BA lecture: Theories of sovereignty

  • BA seminar : What is political liberty? Classical readings

Fall semester 2014

  • BA lecture: Political liberalism and its critics

  • BA seminar: John Locke’s theory of property

Spring semester 2014

  • MA seminar: Intergenerational justice

  • BA seminar:  Rousseau’s Social Contract

Fall semester 2013

  • MA seminar: Just war theories: historical and contemporary approaches

  • BA lecture: The philosophy of human rights

  • BA seminar: Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy

Spring semester 2013

  • MA seminar: The problem of supererogation

Fall semester 2012

  • MA seminar: Is man naturally sociable?

  • BA lecture: Main ethical theories in the 19th and 20th century

  • BA seminar: John-Stuart Mill



  • Bourban, Michel, La justice climatique. Quels devoirs pour quelles politiques ?, Paris, PUF, forthcoming in 2018 (650’000 characters).

Collective work

  • Bourban, Michel, Broussois, Lisa and Fragnière, Augustin (eds.), Philosophie du changement climatique. Éthique, justice et politiques, Paris, Vrin, forthcoming in 2019 (620’000 characters).


Chapters in books

Dictionary entries


  • Bourban, Michel, « Climate Change, Potential Catastrophes and the Rights of Present and Future Generations », in Collste, Göran et Reuter, Lars (eds.), Proceedings from the 50th Societas Ethica Annual Conference 2013, Linköping, Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014, p.1-15, http://www.ep.liu.se/ecp/098/ecp13098.pdf

Book Review

Talks & Presentations

  • February 2018   
    « Effective Altruism, Climate Change and Geoengineering » (with Lisa Broussois), presentation at the workshop « Imagining a Different Future: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice » (University of Tasmania, Australia)

  • July 2017             
    « Souffrance animale et changement climatique » (with Lisa Broussois), presentation at the « 14e congrès de l’Association française de science politique (AFSP) » (University of Montpellier, France).
  • Novembre 2016                
    « La philosophie face au changement climatique : quelle méthode pour la justice climatique ? », presentation at the workshop « Philosophie et interdisciplinarité » (University of Lausanne, Switzerland).
  • July 2016             
    « The most good we can do or the best person we can be? Virtuous life, climate change and effective altruism » (with Lisa Broussois), presentation at the « 14th Conference of the International society for utilitarian studies » (Lille Catholic University, France).
  • May 2015            
    « Questions concerning the contemporary relevance of Rousseau’s critique of social inequalities », presentation at the workshop « Meet the author» on Frederick Neuhouser’s Rousseau’s Critique of Inequality: Reconstructing the Second Discourse (Cambridge University Press, 2014) (University of Lausanne).
  • March 2015        
    « Changement climatique, santé et droits de base », presentation for the « Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) Santé, environnement et éthique » (University of Lausanne).
  • November 2014                
    « La justice climatique globale et intergénérationnelle » (with Simone Zurbuchen), presentation at the workshop « Urgence climatique, urgences éthiques » (University of Geneva, Switzerland).
  • September 2014               
    « Climate justice and international negotiations », presentation at the doctoral summer school « Climate Change – Uncertainties, Thresholds and Coping Strategies. Normative Perspectives » (University of Graz, Austria).
  • August 2014     
    « The Ethics of Drone Warfare: Responses to Some Objections », presentation at the « 51st Societas Ethica Annual Conference: The Ethics of War and Peace » (Maribor, Institute Anton Martin Slomsek, Slovenia).
  • March 2014        
    « Les théories de la justice climatique comme théories de la justice appliquée », presentation with Alain Renaut in a MA/PhD/post-doc seminar (Paris-Sorbonne University, France)
  • November 2013                
    « Commentaire sur “Les théories de la guerre juste: de la dissuasion nucléaire aux conflits irréguliers” de Jean-Vincent Holeindre », presentation at the workshop «Théorie de la guerre juste: perspectives historiques » (Crêt-Bérard, near Lausanne).
  • October 2013     
    « Comment on Thomas Bernauer’s and Robert Gampfer’s “Public Preferences on the Allocation of Emission Rights” », presentation at the « Annual Workshop: Climate Justice in Interdisciplinary Research » (ETH Zürich, Switzerland).
  • August 2013       
    « Climate change, potential catastrophes and the rights of future generations »,
presentation at the « 50th Societas Ethica Annual Conference: Climate Change, Sustainability and an Ethics of an Open Future » (Soesterberg, hotel Kontakt der Kontinenten, Netherlands).
  • June 2013           
    « Distributing the burdens of climate change: Why the developed countries should pay? »,
presentation at the « Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Conference 2013 » (University of Zürich).
  • May 2013            
    « Changement climatique et justice intergénérationnelle: nos devoirs envers les personnes futures »
presentation at the « Journée doctorale de philosophie » (University of Bourgogne, France)
  • May 2013           
    « Question de méthode : quelle relation entre la théorie idéale et non-idéale ? »,
presentation at the workshop « Meet the author » on Alain Renaut’s book: Un monde juste est-il possible ? Contribution à une théorie de la justice globale (Stock, 2013) (University of Lausanne).
  • April 2013
    « What kind of global ethics should we choose to apply our duties of climate justice? »,
presentation at the « 7th Uppsala Forum Workshop on Global Climate Change. Reconsidering Mitigation and Adaptation: Equity and Policy Dimensions of Post-Kyoto Climate Policymaking » (University of Uppsala, Sweden).
  • January 2013   
       « Changement climatique et philosophie politique »,
presentation at the workshop « Justice climatique » (University of Lausanne).
  • November 2012
    « How to write the history of philosophy? Questions of methodology»,
presentation at the workshop « meet the author » on Christopher Brooke’s Philosophic Pride: Stoicism and Political Thought from Lipsius to Rousseau (Princeton University Press, 2012) (University of Fribourg, Switzerland).