Financial Ethics research group
Financial Ethics research group 2023

Financial Ethics Research Group

Research group
Active research
Project size
Project period
2016 - 2025
Project owner
Department of Philosohy, Linguistics and Theory of Science

University of Gothenburg; Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (-2022); Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation (-2021); Mistra (-2020); Vinnova (-2025); Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (2023-2026)

Short description

The Financial Ethics Research Group is a group of philosophers and economists dedicated to ethical and political issues raised by the financial system. We do research on ethical alternatives which can bolster more responsible and sustainable financial behaviour and also engage with key stakeholders to have a direct impact on financial practices.

There is a growing consensus that financial agents and markets are failing to live up to their social responsibilities. The global financial crisis demonstrated how misaligned incentives and poor regulations impose extreme risks on both the financial system itself and society at large. But a more general problem is the seeming inability of financial markets to address the great sustainability challenges of our times, such as global poverty and the threat of climate change.

Members of our group


Joakim Sandberg

Joakim Sandberg is Professor of Practical Philosophy and Director of the Financial Ethics Research Group at University of Gothenburg. He is also Professor of Economics and Finance from a Humanist Perspective at University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and vice director of the Sustainable Finance Lab which is a collaboration between several Swedish universities and companies.

Joakim holds an MBA in business and economics (2003) and a Ph.D. in philosophy (2008). He does research in the intersections between moral and political philosophy and studies in business and economics. Much of his recent work has focused on how to get financial institutions such as banks and pension funds to take a stronger responsibility for the societal and environmental effects of their activities. Joakim has led, or participated in, research projects on sustainable finance, institutional investment and fiduciary duty, consumer attitudes towards finance, financial crises and regulation, microfinance and poverty, and monetary systems and cryptocurrency.

Boudewijn de Bruin
Boudewijn de Bruin is Visiting Professor in the Financial Ethics group and Professor of Financial Ethics at University of Groningen, the Netherlands. His current work is on ethical and legal aspects of finance, sustainability, and climate change. De Bruin has held visiting positions at, among others, Harvard Business School and Cambridge University. He is Life Member of Clare Hall (Cambridge) and of the Groningen Centre for European Financial Services Law. De Bruin works with the Dutch chartered accountants (Koninklijke Nederlandse Beroepsorganisatie van Accountants) on ethics and culture. His most recent monograph is The Business of Liberty: Freedom and Information in Ethics, Politics, and Law (Oxford University Press, 2022).

Adrian Walsh
Adrian Walsh is Visiting Professor in the Financial Ethics group and Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England, Australia. He is a political philosopher who has written extensively on a wide variety of normative issues concerning markets and economic theory. He also works on questions of philosophical methodology and, in particular, on the use of thought experiments in ethical and political theory. He has published four books including The Morality of Money (2008) and Ethics, Money and Sport (2007). Most recently he was a co-editor of the collection entitled The Ethical Underpinnings of Climate Economics (2016). He is currently working on a project on the ethics and politics of austerity. He also works on historical and normative issues regarding the practice of lending money at interest. Personal web page


Alexander Andersson
Alexander Andersson is a Post-doc Researcher currently funded by the Swedish Research council, working on a project titled “What do we deserve in a meritocracy?”. His PhD project, which was part of the Financial Ethics Research Group, focused mainly on the concept of desert and just pay theory. He defended his thesis “Giving Executives Their Due: Just Pay, Desert, and Equality” in December 2021.

Richard Endörfer
Richard Endörfer is an Associate Researcher in Practical Philosophy and the Financial Ethics group at University of Gothenburg. He recently completed his PhD thesis on philosophical aspects of financial crises; in particular ethical and political aspects of banks’ contributions to so-called systemic financial risk. His current research interests focus on topics occupying the interconnection between economics and philosophy, including risk ethics and climate ethics. Richard holds a BA in Cultural Sciences (University of Saarbruecken) and an MA in Philosophy and Economics (University of Bayreuth). 

Mattias Gunnemyr
Mattias Gunnemyr is a Post-doctoral Researcher in the Financial Ethics group at the University of Gothenburg, focusing on ethical issues in relation to collective harm problems within finance. Since 2021, he holds Ph.D. in practical philosophy from Lund University. Like his current project, his Ph.D. thesis concerns the topic of collective harm. In it, he examines what different accounts of why individual agents might have reasons to, e.g., reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, and of why and when they might be blameworthy for doing so. Apart from this, Gunnemyr has also published works on structural injustice, primarily concerning Iris Marion Young’s social connection model, and is editing an anthology on implicit bias and post hoc interventions.

Simon Rosenqvist
Simon Rosenqvist is an Associate Researcher in Practical Philosophy and member of the Financial Ethics group at the University of Gothenburg. He is presently working in the project "Science-Based Metrics for Sustainable Finance", where he investigates different ways of thinking about "impact" in the context of sustainable finance. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Uppsala University, where he explored how consequentialist theories can be applied and justified.


Jasmine Elliott
Jasmine Elliott is a PhD Candidate in Practical Philosophy and Deputy Researcher in the Financial Ethics group at University of Gothenburg. Her research focus includes topics of professional enablers, professional ethics, finance, human rights, corporate lawyers, sustainability, climate change, and corruption. She looks at questions about the role of finance, law, and business in society and in relation to these topics. She aims to highlight how these professions could act collectively to promote more ethical business practices.

Nina van Heeswijk
Nina van Heeswijk is a Ph.D. Candidate in Practical Philosophy at University of Gothenburg. Her research focuses on theories of global distributive justice and consumer ethics. Nina currently works on a dissertation called “Global Justice, Special Relations and the Global Economy: The Moral Duties of Individual Consumers”. Nina holds an MA in Philosophy (Utrecht University).

Eliza Nobles
Eliza Nobles is a PhD Candidate in Practical Philosophy in the Financial Ethics Research Group at University of Gothenburg. Her research focus includes the ethics of biodiversity conservation, the valuation of nature, and environmental justice. She looks at questions about the impacts of finance and policy on human and non-human communities. She holds a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) and a Master of City Planning (MCP) from University of Pennsylvania, as well as a BSc in Urban Ecology from Drexel University.

Georg Schmerzeck
Georg Schmerzeck is a PhD Candidate in Practical Philosophy and member of the Financial Ethics group at University of Gothenburg. His research focuses on the ethical evaluation of monetary systems in ideal and non-ideal theory. It assesses whether existing monetary institutions are justifiable or in need of reform, and clarifies the advantages and drawbacks of various alternatives. Georg holds an M.A. in Political Philosophy (University of Graz) and an M.Sc. in Public Policy (United Nations University / Maastricht University).


Fausto Corvino
Fausto Corvino was a Postdoctoral Researcher in Practical Philosophy and member of the Financial Ethics group at University of Gothenburg. Prior to this, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher in Moral Philosophy at Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies (Pisa, Italy), and a Postdoctoral Researcher in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Turin (Italy). He holds a PhD in Politics, Human Rights and Sustainability from Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, and both an MA in International Relations and a BA in Political Science from Luiss University (Rome, Italy). His research interests focus on intergenerational and global justice, the ethical issues arising from climate change and the energy transition, as well as economic ethics. He is currently working on the ethics of market-based approaches to climate policy.

Clément Fontan was a post-doctoral researcher in financial ethics at University of Gothenburg 2017-2018. His research focuses on central banking and the crisis of financialized capitalism. Clément holds a PhD in Political Science from Sciences Po Grenoble and his dissertation dealt with how the European Central Bank extended its political influence during the Eurozone crisis. During his post-docs at Montreal University and the CNRS, he also studied how central banks contributed to inequality. He has published in preeminent academic journals in French and English and he is working on a monograph for Polity Press entitled "Do Central Banks serve the people?".

Louis Larue was a post-doctoral researcher in financial ethics at the University of Gothenburg 2020-2022. He holds a Double Master Degree in economics from Università Bocconi (Italy) and UCLouvain (Belgium), as well as a PhD in economics and philosophy at UCLouvain. His research centres on issues of justice in finance and money, and on several topics in the philosophy of economics. His most recent publications focus on Bitcoin and digital currencies.

David Rönnegard was a research fellow in financial ethics at University of Gothenburg 2017-2018. His current research is focused on the responsibilities of shareholders as part of a sustainable financial system. David is an economist (M.Sc. Stockholm School of Economics) and philosopher (Ph.D. London School of Economics) specialized on corporate social responsibility (CSR), with a particular emphasis on political, moral, and strategic justifications for CSR.

Gunnar Sigvaldasson was a PhD Candidate at University of Iceland and participant in the research project “The Reality of Money”, led by Dr. Eyja Margrét Brynjarsdóttir and funded by Rannís - The Icelandic Centre for Research. The main focus of his research are markets, commodification and the way in which our concepts of human nature influence how we view markets. His background is mainly in normative ethics and political theory although he is interested in various aspects of both philosophy and politics.

Tadhg Ó Laoghaire 
Tadhg Ó Laoghaire was a post-doctoral researcher in financial ethics at University of Gothenburg 2021–2023. He holds a PhD in philosophy from University of Leeds (2020) and an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Leiden University (2016). He specialises in international trade and corporate justice, with a particular focus on what is owed to least-developed countries and the world’s poorest more generally. He has won multiple awards for his work, including most recently the Jonathan Trejo-Mathys Essay Prize, awarded for a ‘stellar contribution to the political theory on global justice’.

Financial Ethics research group 2017
Financial Ethics research group 2017
Photo: Monica Havström

Links to external websites

• Sustainable Finance Lab

• Mistra FinBio is a research program

• The symbolic value of different investment strategies

• Collaboration with Mistra Financial Systems
Mistra Financial Systems

• Centre for European Research in Microfinance in Brussels

Mistra FinBio
Sustainable Finance Lab
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Research Projects in Financial Ethics

The Financial Ethics group is involved in a range of more particular research projects, some of which are outlined below.  For links to external web sites, see the link list below.

Sustainable Finance Lab

Sustainable Finance Lab is a transdisciplinary research center established to transform financial markets in order to enhance the sustainable development of society. Its aim is to deliver scientific insights that can strengthen the practices of banks and financial institutions to take a greater responsibility for their impacts on people and planet. The Lab is a collaboration between six Swedish universities, as well as partners from the financial industry and civil society. The Financial Ethics Research Group contributes with research on “Shifting norms to overcome inertia and accelerate action”. This project is funded by Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency.

Science-Based Metrics for Sustainable Finance

As a side-project to the Sustainable Finance Lab, the Financial Ethics group collaborates with the Stockholm Resilience Center in a project on Science-Based Metrics for Sustainable Finance. The aim is to draw on both natural and social science to provide the next generation of metrics or guidelines that allow for more robust measures of the sustainability of financial projects and investments. More specifically, the project seeks to develop both (1) a natural-scientific understanding of the most important targets with regards to climate change and other Earth system boundaries, and (2) a social-scientific understanding of how financial markets can have the most effective impact on those targets. This project is also funded by Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency.

Finance to Revive Biodiversity

The next frontier for sustainable finance may be to go beyond climate change and consider effects on nature and biodiversity. Biodiversity loss is unravelling the web of life that supports all people, societies, and economies, including the financial system. Mistra FinBio is a research program that gathers ecologists, economists, and philosophers. Its mission is to support the financial sector’s capacity to contribute to a nature-positive economy, enhancing the resilience of our planet by reversing the loss of nature and biodiversity. The Financial Ethics group works mainly on two more specific challenges: (1) What are the ethical risks of biodiversity-related financial markets? Is it ok to put a price on nature? (2) What systems of governance are needed to contain these ethical risks? This project is funded by Mistra, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research.

The Symbolism of Climate-Friendly Financial Decisions

Financial consumers have at least some power over financial flows, e.g. through choosing where to put their pension savings. It is sometimes argued that consumers have a moral obligation to invest in a more sustainable manner. But how can we get consumers to accept such a responsibility, and how can we get them to choose the most effective sustainable investment strategies? The Financial Ethics group has partnered with psychology researchers from Linköping University for a project on the symbolic value of different investment strategies. More precisely, the aims of the project are to gain a greater understanding of the moral psychology of investors, and to use this knowledge to introduce socially-based interventions so that people’s financial decisions better reflect their environmentally friendly attitudes. This project is funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.

Links to external websites

• Sustainable Finance Lab

• Mistra FinBio is a research program

• The symbolic value of different investment strategies

• Collaboration with Mistra Financial Systems
Mistra Financial Systems

• Centre for European Research in Microfinance in Brussels

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Previous Projects

Previous Projects

The Ethics and Politics of Financial Crises

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 wreaked havoc on many societies, causing a lot of people to lose their savings and/or their jobs. As the financial markets now are regaining strength, we need to make sure that we minimize the risk that such a thing happens again. This is partly a technical issue which involves understanding how systemic risks are created, transmitted and mitigated. But it is also an ethical issue about who should bear the responsibility for both mitigation and compensation in the event of future crises. The Financial Ethics group hosted a large research project on ethical and political aspects of financial crises. This project was funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Justice in Executive Compensation

The Global Financial Crisis is sometimes blamed on the greed and “bonus culture” of financial executives. While corporate directors and CEOs received tremendous pay packages, the average blue-collar workers got their pays cut or lost their jobs. But what would a more equitable principle of pay look like? We draw from philosophical theories of justice and desert to explore new ways of thinking about pay packages and wage allocation. These are then applied to evaluate contemporary suggestions about, for example, pay ceilings in executive compensation. This project was a collaboration with Mistra Financial Systems.

Bitcoins Left and Right

Recent years have seen the rise of new forms of digital money, such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is a form of digital money that is not tied to a central bank or government and that primarily facilitates anonymous transactions on the internet. Looking closer at the phenomenon, it seems that Bitcoin raises fascinating issues concerning the political philosophy of money. On the one side are libertarians stressing the right of individuals to choose their own means of transaction without government interference or oversight. On the other side are egalitarians stressing the importance of equality in influence over how money is created and distributed, which also can be taken as a criticism of our current system in which commercial banks play an active role in money creation. Can any of these sides present a plausible alternative to our current system or euros and dollars? This project was funded by the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation.

Microfinance and global justice

Microfinance is the extension of loans to poor or low-income clients, often in developing countries such as India or Bangladesh. This is often held up as ethically progressive and a good way to help people escape from poverty. However, in recent years the microfinance industry has also been the target of much moral criticism. Is it really morally acceptable to charge high interest rates on loans to the poor? And what do we really know about the impact of microfinance? The Financial Ethics group joined forces with CERMi in Brussels to address these moral criticisms.