Pierre-Étienne Vandamme / Postdoctoral Researcher

KU Leuven & UCLouvain / Political philosophy

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My philosophical research explores the relationship between democracy and social, global and intergenerational justice. I argue that democracy is a type of government more likely to lead to just decisions than its alternatives. Nevertheless, this “justice potential” is much higher for what regards relations between citizens than relations with foreigners or future generations. Democracies tend to produce decisions that are highly biased against foreigners and future generations. And the main response to this problem, besides the utopian (yet desirable) globalization of democracy, is a change in citizens’ consciousness and attitudes.
In light of these observations, I’ve decided to devote a large part of my professional life to teaching (at whatever level) in order to raise consciousness and encourage changes of attitudes. In addition to this, I’ve decided to try to orient my own choices in the desired direction. Personal choices include:

  • renouncing to smartphones and tablets (but not laptop)
  • renouncing to a personal car
  • trying not to take the plane more than once a year and privilege trains to (shared) cars
  • privileging local and seasonal alimentation
  • reducing meat consumption
  • not having more than two children (I’m not sure I could deal with more anyway…)
    The main difficulties I’m facing are the following:
  • the burden of traveling by train with two young kids
  • relative social exclusion because I don’t have access to Whats’app
  • academic pressure to travel around the world in order to show one’s “international mobility” (which matters for accessing grants and teaching positions)
  • reducing energy consumption at home as a tenant
  • weakness of will
    It’s because we all face weakness of will that strict state (or supranational) regulation is necessary to guide the ecological transition. And it’s because we cannot all afford the costs of the required changes in our ways of life that this transition should be heavily subsidized by the state (or supranational actors such as the EU).