Luc Bovens


Biographical data


Image Luc Bovens


I did my undergraduate and MA studies in Social Sciences and graduated with a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota in 1990. I taught in the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1990-2003 and in the London School of Economics and Political Science from 2003 till now, where I have been Head of the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method (2009-2015) and Coordinator of the MSc Programme Philosophy and Public Policy (2003-2015).  I was a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at the Center for Human Values of Princeton University in 2015-16 and am currently a research fellow in the Hope and Optimism Project in Cornell University (Fall 2016). I will be moving to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on 1 January 2018.    


I have a line of work on puzzles and paradoxes in epistemology and rationality such as: the surprise exam; Moore’s paradox; the evidential value of miracles; the conjunction fallacy (with Hartmann); the lottery and the preface paradoxes (with James Hawthorne); Monty Hall, Judy Benjamin & Sleeping Beauty (with José Luis Ferreira); and the puzzle of the hats (with Wlodek Rabinowicz). 


I developed a Bayesian Networks approach to confirmation, evidence and reliability in philosophy of science and to the coherence theory of justification in epistemology with Erik J. Olsson and Stephan Hartmann.  This research culminated in Bayesian Epistemology, OUP 2003 (with Hartmann).


In political philosophy and philosophy of economics, I developed a probabilistic angle to the discursive dilemma (with Rabinowicz).  I have researched various aspects of the tragedy of the commons—the history of the idea, its relation to game-theory, and its application to climate change.  Most recently I have been researching decision-making under risk and uncertainty:  I have defended the Distribution View as a procedure for ranking policies that involve risk for the affected parties; I have argued that a rational approach to shortlist construction can favour protected categories in selection; and I have studied how we can register and measure regret (with Rabinowicz).  


In political science, I published a range of articles on voting power and the representation in federal assemblies, such as the US Electoral College or the EU Council of Ministers, with Claus Beisbart.  I have also published and blogged on fairness and equal burden-sharing in EU asylum policies analysing UNHCR data with Chlump Chatkupt, Günperi Sisman, Laura Smead, and Jane von Rabenau.   


I have worked on various topics of moral psychology, such as believing at will, preference change, moral luck, weakness of the will, hope, death, apologies and forgiveness, and autonomy. The latter connects with my interest in Nudge policies or, more generally, public policies based on behavioural science. 


I have published on a number of topics in bioethics, such as natural family planning and the status of the embryo, the Catholic Church and condom usage by HIV discordant couples, and the Belgian euthanasia legislation for minors. 


Finally, I am developing a web site for teaching ethics in high school through short stories in world literature.