Adam Etinson

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I am a Lecturer in the School of Philosophical, Anthropological, and Film Studies at the University of St Andrews.

I work in moral and political philosophy. A core focus of my research is the philosophy of human rights. I recently edited a book in this area. Alongside this, my current work explores questions about bias (ethnocentrism), human dignity, and the acceptance of moral failure. Most recently, I have begun writing about dialogue across deep ideological divides, and about the communicative roots of the desire for retribution.

I sometimes write for popular audiences. My writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Times Literary Supplement, and Dissent.

In 2017, I became the Assistant Director of CEPPA - the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at the University of St Andrews.

Here is a copy of my CV. For a recent interview, click here.


"A lot of writing on human rights is enthusiastic but uncritical, but this collection is seriously and usefully critical not only on questions of fundamental philosophy, but also on knotty questions about specific rights, about principles of legal interpretation, and about the limits of juridification."

- Onora O'Neill, author of Justice Across Boundaries: Whose Obligations? (2016), and winner of the 2017 Berggruen Prize. 

"A rich collection of focussed dialogues — a provocative gift for teaching — in which the lively ferment over human rights in recent years is deepened, often by becoming refreshingly interdisciplinary, and exciting new formulations are proposed by a diverse range of leading scholars."

Henry Shue, author of Basic Rights (1996)

"Those of us whose work is focused on 'applied' human rights in law, politics, or ethics may nevertheless experience a need for fundamental reflection on the 'big' philosophical questions regarding human rights. Such craving can now be satisfied with a single book."

- Eva Brems, Professor of Human Rights Law, University of Ghent

"This collection excellently represents the depth and scope of engagement across discipplinary boundaries that understanding human rights in all their complexity requires. It will be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the past, present, and future of human rights."

- Cristina Lafont, author of Global Governance and Human Rights (2012)