Jeff McMahan

jeff mcmahan


2014 - present White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy, Oxford.
2003 - 2014 Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University.
1986 - 2003 Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
1983 - 1986 Title A Fellow in Philosophy, St. John’s College, Cambridge.




PhD. Philosophy, Cambridge.

Dissertation: ‘Problems of Population Theory’, supervised by Bernard Williams.

1983 MA. Philosophy, Oxford.

BA. Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

First Class Honours.


BA. Major in English Literature, University of the South, USA.

Summa cum Laude.


‘Climate Change, War, and the Non-Identity Problem’, Journal of Moral Philosophy (forthcoming).

‘Defence Against Parfit’s Torturers’, in McMahan et al., eds., Principles and Persons: The Legacy of Derek Parfit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
‘Suffering and Moral Status’, in Stephen Clarke, Julian Savulescu, and Hazem Zohny, eds., Rethinking Moral Status (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
‘Proportionality in Morality and Law’, in Claus Kreß and Robert Lawless, eds., Necessity and Proportionality in International Peace and Security Law (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

‘Early Death and Later Suffering’, in Espen Gamlund and Carl Tollef Solberg, eds., Saving People from the Harm of Death (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).

‘Nonresponsible Killers’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (2018): 651-682.
‘Doing Good and Doing the Best’, in Paul Woodruff, ed., The Ethics of Giving (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).


I have written primarily about a range of issues concerning harming, killing, and saving. These issues include war, self- and other-defense, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, the metaphysics of personal identity, the metaphysics of death, the evaluation of death, the moral status of animals, causing people to exist, disability, torture, philanthropy, and so on.

During Hilary and Trinity terms 2021 I will be teaching a graduate seminar on the ethics of creating, preserving, and ending lives. I will be discussing issues in population ethics and their relevance to various problems in practical ethics.

Philosophy Bites Interview on Killing in War, November 2009

Philosophy Bites Interview on Vegetarianism, June 2010

“The Meat Eaters,” New York Times Opinionator, September 2010

Wisconsin Public Radio interview on the killing of Osama bin Laden, May 2011

Bioethics Bites interview on Moral Status, April 2012

“Rethinking the ‘Just War’, Part 1” New York Times Opinionator, November 2012

“Rethinking the ‘Just War’, Part 2” New York Times Opinionator, November 2012

“Why Gun ‘Control’ Is Not Enough,” New York Times Opinionator, December 2012

Live chat on drone warfare with Michael Walzer and Jane Mayer, New Yorker online, February 2013

Philosophy Bites Interview on Gun Control, February 2013

Journal of Medical Ethics Interview on Infanticide, February 2013

Huffington Post Op-Ed on Syria, August 2013

“The Moral Case for Military Strikes Against Syria,” al-Jazeera America, September 2013

Boston Review forum: “The Moral Responsibility of Volunteer Soldiers,” November 2013

Minerva: Interview on vegetarianism (with Peter Singer), May 2014

Proportionality in the 2014 Gaza War, Prospect Magazine, August 2014

“Can Torture Ever Be Moral?” New York Times Opinionator, January 2015

“A Challenge to Gun Rights,” Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, April 2015

Morally Necessary Defense in Syria, Washington Post, November 2015

Interview with Katrien Devolder on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, November 2015

New York Times Facebook Live, discussion of abortion, February 2017

“Who is the Victim in the Anna Stubblefield Case?” (with Peter Singer), New York Times Opinionator, April 2017

“I Was No-Platformed. Here’s Why It’s Counterproductive,” New Statesman, 4 January 2019

“Should Corporate Executives Be Criminally Prosecuted for Their Misdeeds?,” New Statesman, 18 June 2019