Alessandra Cenci

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I have a multidisciplinary expertise and use to conduct research at the boundaries of the humanities and the social sciences. My main research interests can be mostly positioned within the Analytical Philosophy: Philosophy of science, Philosophy of Economics (including theory of rationality, well-being theory, economic evaluation and Redistributive Justice), Political Theory, Normative and Applied Ethics, and more recently Foundations of statistical indicators and public policy making, Bayesian epistemology Ethics and Politics of Health.

Regarding my education, in February 2003 I obtained the Master’s Degree in Philosophy at the ‘Università degli Studi di Perugia’ (Italy) with a final thesis on foundations of ethics and democracy in multicultural societies from a Critical Theory perspective (i.e. Jurgen Habermas’ “communicative rationality” and “deliberative democracy”). The dissertation tackles on the challenges that social and ideological pluralism imply for wide-ranging approaches in political and ethical theory namely dilemmas for the justification of broad models of social justice and democracy in contemporary global societies. During the period (academic year 2000-2001), I was exchange student at the department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester (VUM).

More recently, in July 2010, I attended the interuniversity master program in Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of Santiago (USC).  My MA thesis (TFM) focused on crucial issues in Rational and Social Choice Theory such as the philosophical work of Nobel Prize Economist Amartya Sen (i.e. the “ethical” revision of the neoclassical economics’ standard rationality and its implication for standard decision models and/or social justice in contemporary complex societies). In September 2010, I have been enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). In continuity with my MA thesis, the PhD project explored Amartya Sen’s “Ethics and Economics paradigm” and the “Capability Approach” contributions to decision, ethical and democratic theory and insights and limits to provide suitable epistemic/normative/behavioural foundations for equity-oriented public policy making in democratic settings (see Cenci 2011, 2015a, 2016).

The knowledge achieved in this first part of my PhD has been fundamental to establish the epistemological/normative background for the consecutive empirical evolution of my PhD project. Indeed, after a research stay (October 2011-August 2012) at the Social Sciences department of “Society and globalization” at Roskilde University (Denmark) I have been enrolled in the same department as PhD fellow. I have been awarded with the PhD in Social Sciences in March 2015.

My PhD dissertation (i.e. Migration, Capabilities and Social Justice for European Citizens: Cases of Southern Euro Zone Highly Skilled Labour Mobility to the Nordic Countries) was an interdisciplinary project which relies on an Experimental Philosophy/Experimental Ethics approach that bonded my interests in different disciplinary areas (i.e. Ethics, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Economics, Welfare State analysis and Social Policy, EU Studies).

Indeed, in July 2010 I have also obtained the Jean Monnet Diploma at the Centre for European Studies of the University of Valladolid (Spain), thus, I incorporated this additional perspective to my PhD project by adopting empirical cases in the area of EU studies.

In details, the dissertation points to the shortfalls of the adoption of the neo-liberal paradigm (as based on orthodox economics and decision theory) in the fields of intra-EU mobility and social welfare policy. The dissertation combines conceptual and empirical analysis (i.e. mixed, qualitative and quantitative methods) as well as the methodology of different disciplines to outline and operationalize a capability-based framework for empirical research in migration studies. The multi-level approach adopted was intended to expand the analytical and explanatory capacity of conventional models as well as be able to better address welfare, ethical-political repercussions of asymmetrical skilled migrations within the EU widely neglected by mainstream theories/models. On the one hand, it highlights negative consequences for the welfare of weaker/vulnerable actors involved in the process of migration (sending nations, mobile EU citizens/intra-EU migrants). To the other hand, it stresses how, in times of crisis and austerity, growing asymmetrical intra-EU mobility may be a challenge to the foundational objectives of “equal development” in all EU regions and “equal welfare” for all European citizens. Findings suggest that, due to residual shortages in the process of the EU integration (e.g. lack of fiscal and social security integration, limited portability of welfare rights between EU nations) both sending societies and intra-EU mobile citizens (predominantly coming from technologically underdeveloped areas of the EU periphery) could suffer important welfare deficits and experience systematic violation of their EU citizenship welfare rights. This is depicted by being highly problematic to justification of the whole communitarian organization of the EU. Moreover, well-known democratic deficits of EU institutions and policy making seem to exasperate welfare/rights deficits and instead, contribute to convert both asymmetrical skilled migrations within the EU (likely intra-EU Brain drain) and austerity measures (enforced by the Troika to the EU peripheral countries) into a European social justice problems of difficult solution within the current institutional asset and (neoliberal) paradigm for social policy. Here, main recommendation is that substantial revisions should take place in the future evolutions of the EU project. Plausibly, by promoting “transnational solidarity” and taking up “all EU citizens' welfare", in terms of capabilities, as focal point.

After a period outside the academia in which I re-engaged with my former activity as free lance interpreter and translator, since 1 February 2017 I have been enrolled by the department of Philosophy of the University of Southern Denmark.

I belong to the research group in “knowledge and values” and I’ am currently carrying out an own designed project titled “Epistemic, non-epistemic values and “scientific knowledge”: the case of public health analysis and policy”. Generally speaking, the project aims to investigate the interplay between epistemic and non-epistemic values in scientific knowledge in specific disciplinary areas such as ‘health economics’, ‘economic evaluation’, and ‘public health’ (ethics, analysis and policy). In particular, the project will elucidate the epistemic/normative/behavioural foundations of economic methods recently applied to ‘non-market allocations’ that is, to the provision of common goods, healthcare services and/or in priority setting decisions. Furthermore, it will highlight the advantages of combining certain (widely accepted) epistemic (objectivity) and non-epistemic values (equity, social justice) for science in democratic settings, specifically, to the development of a regulative framework for scientific expertise and equity-oriented public policy making namely when allocating ‘scarce’ public resources for health and healthcare in a just society.


Peer-reviewed articles

1. CENCI A. (April 2015). ‘A “capability view” on migration: some theoretical issues raised by the Southern Euro Zone highly skilled mobility’. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research. (DOI

2. CENCI A. (January 2015). ‘Measuring Well-Being for Public Policy: A Freedom-Based Approach’. Agora, Vol.34, No 1, January 2015. (DOI

3. CENCI, A. (2011). ‘Economía, Ética y Libertad en el Enfoque de las Capacidades’. Revista Laguna, 29, pp.123-147 (ISSN: 1132-8177). Indexed in the Louvain’s University Catalogue.

Book Chapters

CENCI, A. (Forthcoming). ‘The economic method and its Ethical Component: Pluralism, Objectivity and Values in Amartya Sen’s model’. Accepted for publication as book chapter.


1. Cenci A., ‘Justice and Democracy in the XXI century: contributions of the “ethics and economics paradigm” to a global perspective (submitted to Journal of Global ethics)

3. ‘A qualitative viewpoint on the Southern eurozone highly skilled labour mobility in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen in times of crisis and austerity’ (Submitted to Mobilities).

 2. Cenci A. ‘Migration, capabilities and social justice for European citizens: citizenship, development and social welfare in times of renationalization (re-submitted to Notizie di Politeia)

ON-GOING WORK (provisional titles)

1.    Cenci, A., Hussain MA. ‘Developing Welfare Indicators for the allocation of ‘scarce’ resources in Public Health: new methodological trends and philosophical perspectives

2.    Epistemic, non-epistemic values and “scientific knowledge”: a re- statement?”





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