Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Professor Jeff McMahan

Jeff McMahan


White's Professor of Moral Philosophy


My first degree was in English literature, after which I read PPE for two years at Corpus, then began the DPhil under the supervision first of Jonathan Glover and then of Derek Parfit.  I completed my PhD at Cambridge under the supervision of Bernard Williams.  Before returning to Oxford in 2014, I taught at the University of Illinois and at Rutgers University in New Jersey.


I have written about a range of issues involving or related to harming, killing, and saving.  These issues include war, self- and other-defense, abortion, infanticide, prenatal injury, euthanasia, the metaphysics of personal identity, the metaphysics of death, brain death, the evaluation of death, the moral status of animals, causing people to exist, obligations to future people, screening for disability, torture, philanthropy, gun control, the distinction between doing harm and allowing harm to occur, and the distinction between harming as a means and harming as a side effect.  I am working on several books that I have under contract with Oxford University Press: The Values of Lives (a collection of essays), The Ethics of Killing volume 2: Self-Defense and Punishment, The Ethics of Killing volume 3: War, and The Right Way to Fight (the provisional title of a book on the ethics of war for a non-academic readership).


The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Killing in War (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Co-edited books

The Morality of Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 1997, with Robert McKim)

Ethics and Humanity: Themes from the Philosophy of Jonathan Glover (Oxford University Press, 2010, with N. Ann Davis and Richard Keshen)

Selected recent essays

“What Rights May Be Defended by Means of War?,” in Cécile Fabre and Seth Lazar, eds., The Morality of Defensive War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

“Self-Defense Against Justified Threateners,” in Helen Frowe and Gerald Lang, eds., How We Fight: Ethics in War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014): 104-137.

“Proportionality and Time,” Ethics 125 (2015): 696–719.

“The Moral Problem of Predation,” in Andrew Chignell, Terence Cuneo, and Matt Halteman, eds., Philosophy Comes to Dinner (London: Routledge, 2015).

“The Comparative Badness of Suffering and Death for Animals,” in Tatjana Višak and Robert Garner, eds., The Ethics of Killing Animals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

“The Limits of Self-Defense,” in Christian Coons and Michael Weber, eds., The Ethics of Self-Defense (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

“Liability, Proportionality, and the Number of Aggressors,” in Saba Bazargan and Samuel Rickless, eds., The Ethics of War: Essays (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

“Proportionality and Necessity in Jus in Bello,” in Helen Frowe and Seth Lazar, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Ethics of War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

“’Human Dignity’ and Assisting Others to End Their Lives,” in Sebastian Muders, ed., The Role of Human Dignity in Assisted Death (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

“Early Death and Later Suffering,” in Espen Gamlund and Carl Tollef Solberg, eds., Saving Lives from the Badness of Death (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

“Doing Good and Doing the Best,” in Paul Woodruff, ed., Philanthropy and Philosophy: Putting Theory Into Practice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).


These and other of my essays can be downloaded from my website:

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