Dr Nigel Dower

Dr Nigel Dower

Honorary Senior Lecturer

Dr Nigel Dower
Dr Nigel Dower

Contact Details



Nigel Dower is Honorary Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Aberdeen and Academic Consultant (t/a ‘Cosmopolitan Agendas’). He joined the University of Aberdeen in 1967 where he has taught until 2004, except for three years teaching Philosophy in Zimbabwe (1983-86) and five months as Gillespie Visiting Professor, College of Wooster, Ohio in 2000. He was Head of Department from 1996-1999 and 2000-2001. In June 2004 he took early retirement in order to pursue his interests in ‘exploring ethics in a globalise world’ through teaching, lectures, writing and consultancy. He was visiting Professor in the University of Akureyri, Iceland in Sept-October 2004, and will be Visiting Professor in Colorado State University, Fort Collins in January-May 2006.

His main research interests are in the field of the ethics/philosophy of development, environment and international relations. He taught for many years two special subjects relating to his research, one on the ethics of international relations, covering normative theories, war and peace, theories of justice/human rights and global citizenship, and the other on the ethics of development, environment and technology. He has also\ taught various other courses on the ethics of sustainable development. (See list of publications below.)

In 1997 he wrote World Ethics - the New Agenda for the Edinburgh University Press (1998) and is Editor of its Edinburgh Studies in World Ethics. His interest in development ethics is reflected in membership of the International Development Ethics Association (IDEA), of which he is President, and the Development Ethics Study Group of the Development Studies Association (DSA), of which he is convener. He is also a member of the Educational Advisory Board for the Earth Charter and the IUCN Ethics Specialist Group. In 1997-1999, as one of the Associate Directors of the Centre for Philosophy, Technology & Society (which operated from 1990 to 2002), he led a research project on the idea of global citizenship and how educational courses at Undergraduate level might be developed. This resulted inter alia in Global Citizenship - A Critical Reader, edited by Nigel Dower and John Williams (EUP 2002) and his latest book An Introduction to Global Citizenship (EUP 2003). 

Further Info


Much of his research work has stemmed from his involvement in the 1970s in several organisations campaigning for a more just and peaceful world, through membership of the World Development Movement and the United Nations Association (he is still Chairman of the Aberdeen Branch of UNA). After his book ( World Poverty Challenge and Response 1983), in which he argued the moral case for more higher quality aid in the context of commitment to improved international economic relations, peace and environmental protection, he has authored many chapters and articles arguing the case for cosmopolitanism, an explicitly ethical framework for assessing development itself and the relations between states. A commitment to sustainable development must involve a significant rethinking of the assumptions behind the ways of life in the North. Whilst a global ethic must stress the case for global responsibility or solidarity, the case for respecting cultural diversity needs also to be made (an overall approach he calls 'solidarist pluralism'). Another theme of his thinking is the need to distinguish between a global ethic as a theory, worldview or 'source story' from a global ethic as a set of agreed principles which become embodied in a social reality of institutions and practices. Differences of theory may lead to endorsement of common principles. In this light the dispute between anthropocentrists and biocentrists may be important intellectually but may lead, equally importantly, to common action. The above issues are not to be seen as belonging to 'applied ethics' (if that implies the mere application of theories fashioned elsewhere) but as contributing centrally to normative and theoretical issues about the nature of ethics. More recently his work has focussed more on the challenge of globalisation, especially its implications for our understanding of global civil society and the strengthening of global citizenship, on the relevance of the Earth Charter and on the widening but contested understanding of security.


Born 1/1/42 in Yorkshire, UK. Educated at Bradford Grammar School (1953-1960), University College, Oxford (1960-1964), and University of Leeds (1965-67). Joined staff at University of Aberdeen in 1967 (and did his PhD part-time at Aberdeen). Married in 1972, and has three children. Spent three years (1983-1986) as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies, Classics and Philosophy, University of Zimbabwe and one semester at the College of Wooster, Ohio (Jan-May 2000). Became a Quaker in 1980, and has been involved in various Quaker Committees, such as QPS (Quaker Peace and Service) and Quaker Stewardship Committee. Interests include music, walking, gardening and computing.