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Jonathan Wolff

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Professor of Philosophy
University College London

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 3067


Born 1959, BA (UCL) 1983, MPhil (UCL) 1985, Harkness Fellow Harvard University 1985-6.
Lecturer in Philosophy UCL 1986, Senior Lecturer 1994, Reader 1996,
Head of Department 1997-2008, Professor 2000, Dean Faculty of Arts and Humanities, 2012.

Trustee: Responsible Gambling Trust (2003-9, 2012-)

Member: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Ethics Committee (2012-)

Member: Homicide Review Group (2005-8, 2011-)

Director: UCL Centre for Philosophy, Justice and Health (2008-12)

Member: Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2008-2014)

Member: Advisory Council Demos (2009-11)

Joint Series Editor (with Tim Crane) Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks (1992-2011)

Member: Brain Science, Addiction and Drugs Working Group, Academy of Medical Sciences (2006-8)

Member: Nuffield Council Working Party on Research Involving Animals (2004-5)

Secretary: British Philosophical Association (2003-7)

Honorary Secretary: Aristotelian Society (2000-7)

Member: Gambling Review Body (2000-2001)

Editor: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1994-2000)

Founding Director: Philosophy Programme in the University of London School of Advanced Study.(1995-1998)



A short book, for Norton Press, in their Global Ethics series, in conjunction with Amnesty International, was published in 2012, with a paperback edition in 2013. Further papers are listed below.


This book, published by Routledge in May 2011, brings together published and unpublished work in a number of areas of public policy, such as the regulation of drugs, animal experimentation, gambling, and the regulation of safety. The point of the book is not only to shed light on these areas, but also to consider the appropriate methodology for connecting philosophy and public policy. For a review in NDPR click here.

Among other things it builds on my AHRC Project, running for four years, on The Ethics of Risk, which in turn was a successor to work conducted for the Railway industry on the puzzle of why it is that the railways in the UK have generated such a poor reputation for safety when by all statistical measures the risk of death or injury when travelling by train is very low indeed, especially when compared to travelling by road. My initial discussion of this issue is contained in a report called Railway Safety and the Ethics of the Tolerability of Risk.

A more general paper on this area, entitled Risk, Fear, Blame, and Shame: The Regulation of Public Safety is published in Economics and Philosophy. A paper on the idea of a statistical life, entitled What is the value of preventing a fatility? is published in a collection on Philosophy and Risk, edited by Tim Lewens (Routledge 2007). A further output from this project is a survey paper co-written with Madeleine Hayenhjelm, published in The European Journal of Philosophy called The Moral Problem of Risk Impositions (online subscription required)

3. DISADVANTAGE (With Avner de-Shalit, Political Science, Hebrew University)

How should we understand the nature of disadvantage? How can societies identify the least advantaged? What policies should they adopt to deal with disadvantage? The resulting book, Disadvantage, was published by Oxford University Press, in May 2007, with a paperback edition in 2013. A transcript of an introduction to the project, delivered at the launch of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Social Justice is available here.


The Centre for Philosophy, Justice and Health is a partnership between many UCL departments, including Philosophy, Political Science, Laws, the Medical School, and Epidemiology. Its main aim is to provide a UCL based focus for research into distributive justice and health, through conferences, workshops, papers, public engagement and teaching.

Further Details


This is an ad hoc workshop series I co-ordinate, involving an international and inter-disciplinary group of researchers loosely based around the website The Equality Exchange all of whom are interested in how broadly egalitarian political philosophy and public policy decision-making may interact and shed light on each other. The first workshop took place over two days hosted by UCL's School of Public Policy in April 2003 and many others have followed in London. Further workshops took place in Harvard in April 2004, May 2006, and May 2008 on Human Rights (all organised by Mathias Risse) and in Stanford in September 2006 (organised by Debra Satz). In 2009, one workshop took place in Dublin in May (organized by Jurgen De Wisplaeare) and one in Namibia in August, co-organised with Mark Hannam. This latter conference led to the publication Southern Africa: 2020 Vision. A further meeting took place in Frankfurt in January 2012, organised by Christian Schemmel, and another took place in London in September 2013, organsied by James Wilson and Laura Valentini.

Further Details


This work, with Shepley Orr, is a continuation of the Ethics of Risk project. So far it has led to a report, written for the UK Government Inter-departmental Group on the valuation of life and health. Further work, written with Shepley Orr and Stephen Morris, is entitled 'What Values Should Count in HTA for New Medicines Under Value Based Pricing in the UK?'.



'Social Equality and Social Inequality', in Social Equality: Essays on What It Means to be Equalseds. Carina Fourie, Fabian Schuppert, and Ivo Wallimann-Helmer, Oxford University Press.

'Equality as A Basic Demand of Justice', in The Norton Introduction to Philosophy, ed. Alex Byrne, Joshua Cohen, Gideon Rosen, Seana Shiffrin. Forthcoming

'The Content of the Human Right to Health', in The Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, ed. Rowan Cruft, Matthew Liao, and Massimo Renzo, Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.

'Need for Health and Need for Health Care', with Gry Wester, Online Encyclopedia of Health Economics Forthcoming.

'Reconciling Cost-Effectiveness with the Rule of Rescue: The Institutional Division of Moral Labour, with Shepley Orr, Theory and Decision. Forthcoming.

'A Response to Slovic and Vastfjall', in Essays in Behavioural Public Policy ed. Adam Oliver, Cambridge University Press.

'Testing, Treating and Trusting', in Statistical versus Identified Lives ed. G. Cohen, N. Daniels, and N. Eyal, Oxford University Press.


G.A. Cohen, Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy (ed.) Princeton University Press.

'The History of Analytic Political Philosophy' in The Oxford Handbook to the History of Analytic Philosophy ed. M. Beaney. Download as Word File

'Scanlon on Material and Social Inequality', Journal of Moral Philosophy Download as Word file

'On Fertile Functionings: A Response to Martha Nussbaum', with Avner de-Shalit, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities Vol 14, pp. 161-165.


The Human Right to Health,

'The Demands of the Human Right to Health', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society: Supplementary Volume Vol 86, pp. 217-237. Download as word file

'Health Risk and Health Security', in Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on Distribution and Care (2nd Edition) ed. R. Rhodes, M. Battin and A Silvers

'Equality' in The Oxford Handbook to the History of Political Philosophy ed G. Klosko, Oxford University Press.

'Global Justice and Health: The Basis of the Global Health Duty' in Global Justice and Bioethics ed. E. Emanuel and J. Mullian, Oxford University Press pp. 78-101.

'Evaluating interventions in health: a reconciliatory approach', with S. Edwards, S. Richmond, S. Orr, and G. Rees. Bioethics, 26 (9), 455-463.

'The Moral Problem of Risk Imposition: A Survey of the Literature' with Madeleine Hayenhjelm European Journal of Philosophy (online)

'Dementia, death and advance directives', Health Economics, Policy and Law , 7 (4), 499-506.


Ethics and Public Policy Routledge

'Public health, genomics and autonomy * Comment on Dr R.L. Zimmern's Genomics and individuals in public health practice: are we luddites or can we meet the challenge?' Journal of Public Health 33: 483-484.

'How Should Governments Respond to the Social Determinants of Health?' Preventative Medicine.

'G.A. Cohen' Proceedings of the British Academy, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows pp. 49-67 Download as word file

'Five Types of Risky Situation' Law Technology and Innovation (2) 151-163 Download as word file

'The Human Right to Health', in Global Health Ethics ed S. Benatar and G. Brock, Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press

'The Apparent Asymmetry of Responsibility' (with Avner de-Shalit) in Responsibility and Distributive Justice ed. C. Knight and Z. Stemplowska, Oxford University Press, pp. 216-229.

'What Values Should Count in HTA for New Medicines Under Value Based Pricing in the UK?' with Shepley Orr and Stephen Morris, Download.


Southern Africa: 2020 Vision (ed, with Mark Hannam) London: e9 Publishing.

'Fairness, Respect and the Egalitarian Ethos Revisited', Journal of Ethics Download as Word File

'The Social Gradient in Health: How Fair Retirement Could Make a Difference', with Gry Wester Public Health Ethics Download


'Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change', The Lancet, Costello, A, M. Abbas, A. Allen, S. Ball, S. Bell, R. Bellamy, S Friel, N. Croce, A. Johnson, M. Kett, M. Lee, C. Levy, M. Maslin, D. McCoy, B. McGuire, H. Montgomery, D. Napier, C. Pagel, J. Patel, J.A. Puppim de Olivera, N. Redcliffe, H. Rees, D. Rogger, J. Scott, J. Stephenson, J. Twigg, J. Wolff and C. Patterson, 373: 1693-1733.

'Disability Among Equals', in Disability and Disadvantage ed K. Brownlee and A. Cureton, Oxford University Press, pp 114-137. Download as Word File

'Disability, Status Enhancement, Personal Enhancement, and Resource Allocation', Economics and Philosophy 25: 49-68. Download

'Cognitive Disability in a Society of Equals', Metaphilosophy 40: 402-15. Download as Word File

'Global Justice and Norms of Co-operation: The "Layers of Justice" View', in Hillel Steiner and the Anatomy of Justiceed S. de Wijze, M. Kramer and I. Carter, New York: Routledge pp. 34-50. Download as Word File

'Risk, Disadvantage and the Social Determinants of Health',Public Health Ethics 2: 214-223 Download

Cross Sector Weighting and the Values of QALYs and VPFs: A Report for the Inter-Departmental Group on the Valuation of Life and Health, with Shepley Orr. Download


'Social Justice and Public Policy: A View From Political Philosophy', in Social Justice and Public Policy ed. C. Craig, T. Burchardt and D. Gordon, Policy Press.

'Social Justice', in Issues in Political Theory ed. C. MacKinnon, Oxford University Press.


Disadvantage (with Avner de-Shalit) Oxford University Press

'What is the Value of Preventing a Fatality?' in Risk: Philosophical Perspectives ed Tim Lewens, Routledge. Download as Word File

'Harm and Hypocrisy: Have We Got It Wrong on Drugs?', in Public Policy Research. Download as Word File

'Market Failure, Common Interests, and the Titanic Puzzle', in New Essays in Equality ed. K. Lippert-Rasmussen and N. Holtung Oxford University Press. Download as Word File

'Making the World Safe for Utilitarianism', Royal Institute of Philosophy, Annual Volume. Download as Word File

'Equality: The Recent History of An Idea', Journal of Moral Philosophy 4: 125-136. Download as Word File


An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Revised Edition, Oxford University Press
First edition 1996, 13 impressions

Orthodox Chinese translation, Wu-Nan Book Company of Taiwan 1998.

Simplified Chinese translation, O.U.P. Hong Kong, 2001, new translation 2008, Jilin Publishing Group.

Japanese translation 2001.

Spanish translation, Editorial Ariel 2001.

Portuguese translation, Gradiva, 2004.

Estonian translation 2005.

Croatian translation 2008.

'Liberty, Utility and Economic Competition', Virginia Law Review. Download as Word File

'Risk, Fear, Blame, Shame and the Regulation of Public Safety', Economics and Philosophy Download

'Models of Distributive Justice', in Empathy and Fairness, Novartis Foundation, pp 165-170. Download as Word File

'Economism', (with Dirk Haubrich) in Oxford Handbook of Public Policy ed. M. Moran, M. Rein and R. Goodin , pp. 746-770. Download as Word File

'Disputed Land Claims: A Response to Weatherson and to Bou-Habib and Olsaretti', (with Hillel Steiner) Analysis. Download as Word File


'Training, Perfectionism and Fairness', Journal of Applied Philosophy 21: 285-95.


'The Message of Redistribution', Catalyst Trust Working Paper.

'A General Framework for Resolving Disputed Land Claims'Analysis 63: 188-9

'The Dilemma of Desert', in Desert and Justice ed S.Olsaretti OUP 219-232.

'Marx', in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

'Scanlon on Well-Being', Ratio 16: 333-345

'Economic Justice', in The Oxford Handbook to Practical Ethics ed., Hugh La Follette

'Social Ethos and The Dynamics of Toleration', in The Culture of Toleration in Diverse Socities ed. D. Castiglione and C. McKinnon, Manchester University Press.


Why Read Marx Today? Oxford University Press.
Paperback 2003, Second impression 2005

Portuguese translation 2003

Malayalam translation 2005

Korean translation 2006

Chinese translation 2007

'Addressing Disadvantage and the Human Good', Journal of Applied Philosophy, 207-218, Japanese translation 2006.

'Railway Safety and the Ethics of the Tolerability of Risk', Rail Safety and Standards Board.

'Are we good enough for democracy?', Think.

'Economic Competition. Should We Care About the Losers?', in Hugh La Follette ed Ethics in Practice.

'Contractualism and the Virtues', in Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 5: 120-132. Download as Word File


'Levelling Down', in Challenges to Democracy: The PSA Yearbook 2000, ed., K Dowding, J. Hughes and H. Margetts, Palgrave pp.18-32. Download as Word File


'The Morality of Sales Tax', Analysis

The Proper Ambition of Science, edited wth Martin Stone, Routledge


 book cover

Political Thought edited with Michael Rosen, Oxford University Press, 13th impression 2010

'Marx and Exploitation', Journal of Ethics, 3: 105-120

'Tin Genes and Compensation: Reply to Steiner', in Justine Burley ed. Revolution and Human Rights: The 1998 Oxford Amnesty Lectures (Oxford: Oxford University Press) pp. 151-157.


'Fairness, Respect, and the Egalitarian Ethos', Philosophy and Public Affairs 27: 97-122. Download (JSTOR)
Translated into Chinese 2006.

'John Rawls: Liberal Democracy Restated', in Liberal Democracy and Its Critics ed A. Carter and G. Stokes, Polity Press, 118-134. Reprinted in John Rawls: Critical Assessments , ed. C. Kukathas Routledge 2003

'Mill, Indecency and the Liberty Principle',Utilitas 10. 1-16. Reprinted in MillŐs Political and Legal Philosophy, ed. C.L. Chen, Ashgate 2000.Download as Word File

'Libertarianism', and 'Robert Nozick', in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy ed. E.J. Craig.

'The Ethics of Competition', in The Legal and Moral Aspects of International Trade, Freedom and Trade, volume III ed. A. Qureshi, G. Parry, and H. Steiner (London, Routledge), 82-96. Download as Word File


'Property, Liberty and Freedom', Critical Review 11: 345-357.

Critical Notice of 'Hillel Steiner, An Essay on Rights', International Journal of Philosophical Studies 306-322.


An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1996. 13th impression 2005. Replaced by revised edition 2006.

'The Problem of Ideology', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume LLX 1996, pp. 229-241.

'Anarchism and Scepticism', in For and Against the State ed. John T. Sanders and Jan Narveson (Lanham. MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 1996), pp. 99-118. Download as Word File

'Rational, Fair, and Reasonable', Utilitas 1996, pp. 263-271. Reprinted in Impartiality, Neutrality and Justice: re-reading Brian Barry's Justice as Impartiality, ed. P.J. Kelly (Edinburgh University Press, 1998), pp. 35-43. Download as Word File

'John Stuart Mill, Liberalism and Offence', QWERTY (France), 1996, pp. 249-254.

'Libertarismo e utopia nel pensiero di Robert Nozick',Studi Perugina (Italy), 1 1996 pp. 85-98. Reprinted as 'Robert Nozick, Libertarianism, and Utopia',Skepsis (Athens) 1998.

'Integration, Justice, and Exclusion', in Principles of Justice and the European Union ed. U. Bernitz and Par Hallstrom (Juristforlaget, Stockholm, 1996) pp 15-26.

'John Stuart Mill and Free Thought',The Ethical Record


'Pluralistic Models of Political Obligation', Philosophica(Belgium), 56, 1995, pp. 7-27. Reprinted in M. Baghramian and A. Ingram (ed) Pluralism Routledge 2000.

'Political Obligation, Fairness and Independence', Ratio (New Series) 8, 1995 pp. 87-99.Download

'Autonomy', 'Isaiah Berlin', The Encyclopedia of Democracy, Congressional Quarterly Books, 1995, pp. 106-8, 124-6.


'Hobbes and the Motivations of Social Contract Theory, International Journal of Philosophical Studies , 2: 271-286.

'Social and Political Philosophy in Britain Today: Socialism, Liberalism, Particularity, Globalization',Filozofia (Slovakia) 49: 195-202 (translated into Slovakian).

'Democratic Voting and the Mixed-Motivation Problem', Analysis pp. 193-6.


'Hume, Bentham, and The Social Contract', Utilitas


'Playthings of Alien Forces', Cogito, pp. 35-41.

'Not Bargaining For The Welfare State', Analysis, 52: 118-125


Robert Nozick: Property Justice and the Minimal State, Polity Press and Stanford University Press, 1991. 3rd Impression 2003. Daidalos (Swedish translation) 1993. Keisho Shobo (Japanese translation) 1994. Hei Longjiang People's Publishing House (Simplified Chinese Translation), 1999.

'What is the Problem of Political Obligation?', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol XCI: 153-169.


'Morality for Archangels', Critical Notice of'Hare and Critics' (ed. Seanor and Fotion) Philosophical Books pp. 201-9.


'Barnett, Bargaining and the Nash Solution', Nous Vol XX: 493-506.