skip to content

Department of History and Philosophy of Science


PhD student

College: St Catharine's

Supervisor: Stephen John and Tim Lewens (advisor)

Thesis topic: Justice as an ideal for climate assessment: A study of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 

Research interests: Values in science, political philosophy, ethics, bioethics, advisory ethics, social epistemology, philosophy of climate science 

PhD synopsis: Human activities are changing the climate, posing broad ecological and social risks. In light of these facts, and assuming that we should respond to the threats of climate change at all, how can we respond in a manner that satisfies the demands of justice, given the various interests implicated in climate change politics? 
This familiar framing of questions of climate justice, unreflexively separating the domains of knowledge production and practical action, reflects the standard discourse on climate justice in moral and political philosophy. Contributions to these debates typically begin with a series of deferential citations to the IPCC, drawing on their authoritative reports to provide the factual inputs into their moral inquiries. As a practical matter, such division of labour is necessary. In principle, however, this separation in the analysis of climate justice is deeply problematic: it gives the impression that concerns of justice properly begin where scientific assessments end, that matters of justice are irrelevant to the business of assessing climate change. In light of broad traditions in philosophy and sociology of science concerned with the legitimate roles of non-epistemic (social, political and ethical) values in science, this separation appears untenable, and risks undermining a richer discourse on climate justice, which ought to begin at the stage of knowledge production. At the broadest level, the aim of my PhD is to contribute towards bridging this separation: to place concerns of justice squarely within climate assessments through an empirical and philosophical analysis of IPCC reports. I articulate and defend an ideal of distributive epistemic justice for the IPCC, and for scientific advisory panels more broadly.

Prior Education 

2020 – MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, First Class 
University of Cambridge

2017 – MSt in Philosophy of Physics, Pass with Distinction in Philosophy of Science 
University of Oxford

2016 – MPhys Physics, First Class
Loughborough University



‘We do not speak about emissions responsibility’: Carbon accounting and the value-ladenness of visual epistemic representation’, contributed talk at the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP) Biennial Conference, Ghent University

‘Varying evidential standards as a matter of justice: the context of climate change’, contributed talk at the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science CSHPS Annual Conference, York University

‘High epistemic standards and distributive epistemic justice: Or is Germany at greater risk from climate change than Bangladesh?’, contributed talk at the Values in Science and Political Philosophy Conference, Claremont McKenna College


‘Avian flu, non-proliferation laws, and the politics of dual-use research of concern’, contributed talk at the 8th biennial meeting of the European Philosophy of Science Association EPSA21, University of Turin 

‘Following climate science towards greater emissions: Framing and subversion in the Trump administration’s assessments for environmental policy’, contributed talk at the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science CSHPS Annual Conference, University of Alberta 

‘Avian flu, non-proliferation laws, and the ethics of dual-use research of concern’, contributed talk at the 4th Philosophy Graduate Student Association Conference at the University of Tennessee: The Relationship Between Science and Ethics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 

‘A policy-neutral allocation of emissions? The scientist as policy maker in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’, contributed talk at the Economic and Social Research Council ESRC DTP Graduate Conference 2021: Research in the 21st century: Possibilities and Challenges, University of Cambridge 

‘The greenhouse detection problem, 1988–1996: Models, evidence, and public testimony’, invited talk at the 2nd Making Climate Histories Workshop, University of Cambridge 


Harvard University

  • Lecture: 'Should Scientists Vary Their Evidential Standards Out of Concern for Justice?'
    Part of GENED 1015: Ethics of Climate Change Spring 2022 (Instructor: Prof Lucas Stanczyk)

Cambridge University 

  • HPS Part IB: Philosophy of Science (2021–2022)
  • HPS Part II Paper 6: Ethics and Politics of Science and Medicine (2020–2022)
  • HPS Part II Paper 4: Philosophy of Economics (2021–2022)


  • Fulbright Postgraduate All Disciplines Award, US–UK Fulbright Commission
  • Richard Hadden Prize (best student paper presented at the CSHPS Annual Meeting)
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Award & the Department of History and Philosophy of Science Trust Fund Scholarship, University of Cambridge
  • British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) MPhil Award
Ahmad Elabbar

Contact Details