Joshua Hobbs

Joshua Hobbs


I graduated from The University of Nottingham with a BA (Hons) in Philosophy in 2007 and obtained a Master’s Degree in Political Theory from The University of Sheffield in 2012. During my time at Sheffield I worked as a volunteer teacher with the Sheffield based outreach program Philosophy in the City.

I taught English in South Korea for two years, spent a year working in Australia, and some time travelling in Europe, Africa, India, and Asia. I have had a variety of jobs in a variety of countries including working at a game estate, a pawnbrokers, and an avocado farm.


Souter, J and Hobbs, J. Asylum and the Expression of Solidarity with Refugees. Journal of Social Philosophy (forthcoming).

Nudging Charitable Giving: The Ethics of Nudge in International Poverty Reduction. Ethics and Global Politics (May 2017).

Cosmopolitan Anger and Shame. Journal of Global Ethics (under review).

Administrative Roles

I am a research assistant on the White Rose research project "Understanding Solidarity amid Refugee Crisis", and am a member of the Leeds Migration Research Network.

I am also a member of the organising committee for the annual Conference for Interdisciplinary Approaches to Politics (CIAP). CIAP has been generously awarded funding from BISA, PSA and POLIS.

Research interests

This thesis examines the motivational deficit facing duties falling on individuals in affluent countries to act to address global poverty, and develops a novel dialogic sentimental cosmopolitan answer. The argument begins by drawing a distinction between charitable and political accounts of duties to address global poverty. Chapter one defends a focus on a political account of these duties as necessary to achieve long-term solutions to global poverty, and argues that there are independent normative reasons to favour a political approach. Chapter two examines, and rejects, the nudge solution (Thaler and Sunstein, 2009) to the motivational deficit facing duties to address global poverty. This strategy, deriving from behavioural economics, argues that, rather than seeking to alter attitudes, motivational failures can be addressed through prompting unreflective changes in behaviour. I argue that in order to motivate sustained political action to address global poverty a broader change in attitudes is required. Chapter three moves on to examine the sentimental cosmopolitan suggestion that we can motivate action to address global poverty through a process of ‘sentimental education’, in which sympathetic portrayals of distant others in the media and narrative art serve to cultivate greater affective attachments to these others (Nussbaum, 2001; Rorty, 1998). I argue that, although promising, motivating long-term compliance with political duties to address global poverty requires moving beyond the models of sentimental education currently on offer.

In order to begin to develop an alternative account of sentimental education suitable for motivating compliance with political duties to address global poverty, chapter four examines the focus on empathy within the sentimental cosmopolitan approach, arguing that the sentimental cosmopolitan project ought to be broadened to include the cultivation of a number cosmopolitan emotions – especially anger and shame. Chapter five offers an in depth analysis of the mechanisms through which strategies of sentimental education are thought to function to increase affective concern for individuals facing poverty globally. Here, I reject strategies that emphasise the suffering and vulnerability of individuals facing global poverty as a means to increase affective concern. I argue that these strategies serve to portray individuals facing poverty globally in a manner that obscures their capacity for agency, leading to a number of adverse motivational effects. Attention to our shared vulnerability to suffering as a means to overcome these adverse motivational effects is examined, but ultimately rejected. The final section of this chapter argues that rather than seeking to present distant others in a certain way, strategies of sentimental education ought to proceed by facilitating interactions, and, where this is not feasible, allowing individuals to take the lead in determining how they are presented. In doing so, distant others take an active role in cosmopolitan sentimental education, and are encountered as agents.

Chapter six examines a pressing barrier thought to face the extension of affective concern to distant others, injustice within one’s own political community (Straehle, 2016). This chapter examines the potential conflict between motivating support for justice within national borders, and support for basic global justice. I argue that at the level of motivation the two projects are interrelated in a number of complex ways, making them potentially complementary, rather than competing projects.

Drawing on the arguments advanced in the rest of the thesis, chapter seven develops a positive account of sentimental education suitable for motivating political action to address global poverty. Moving beyond the unidirectional models of sentimental education advocated by previous sentimental cosmopolitan accounts, this chapter developed a novel dialogic model of sentimental education, realised through processes of sensitive mediation, that aims to establish two-way ties between individuals in more affluent countries and particular individuals and groups facing poverty globally. As dialogue between individuals in more affluent countries and groups and individuals facing poverty globally faces a number of practical obstacles, dialogue operates here as a guiding ideal rather than a requirement. Finally, through the use of detailed examples this chapter demonstrates that the solution to the motivational deficit facing political duties to address global poverty advanced in this thesis is not only practically feasible, it is a reality in action.