Philosophy at St Andrews

Adam Etinson

Lecturer in Philosophy, Undergraduate Visiting Day Coordinator and Outreach Officer

Adam Etinson

Phone: 01334 462467

Office: Edgecliffe B18



Social and Political Philosophy; Ethics; Human Rights


Assistant Director of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs (CEPPA) at St Andrews

See also the PURE research profile.

Academic qualifications

2011: D.Phil in Philosophy, University of Oxford

2008: B.Phil in Philosophy, University of Oxford

2005: B.A. Honours in Philosophy, McGill University

Selected publications

2018: Human Rights: Moral or Political? (Oxford: Oxford University Press), ed. Adam Etinson

2018: "Conversation" in New Literary History (2018), Vol. 49, No. 2, Spring Issue, pp. 267-273.

2017: "Some Myths About Ethnocentrism" in The Australasian Journal of Philosophy (Online First: 22 June, 2017)

2014: "On Shareable Reasons: A Comment on Forst" in The Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 44, No. 4, pp. 76-88.

2013: "Human Rights, Claimability, and the Uses of Abstraction" in Utilitas, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 463-486.

2012: "Political and Naturalistic Conceptions of Human Rights: A False Polemic?" in The Journal of Moral Philosophy, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 327-352. (With S. Matthew Liao)

Book Reviews

2018: "How High to Dream?" in The Times Literary Supplement (July 25, 2018), with a follow-up reply to letters to the editor on August 17, 2018.

2017: "Book Review: Reframing the Intercultural Dialogue on Human Rights: A Philosophical Approach, by Jeffrey Flynn" in Political Theory (Online First, 2 April, 2017)

2012: "A Rights-Based Utopia?" in, Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 294-299.

2010: "To Be or Not to Be? Charles Beitz on the Philosophy of Human Rights" in Res Publica, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 235-244. *

Essays & Op-eds

2017: "Is a Life Without Struggle Worth Living?" in The Stone, The New York Times, Oct. 2nd

2013: "Of Cannibals, Kings, and Culture: The Problem of Ethnocentricity" in The Stone, The New York Times, Feb. 17 – Republished in: The Stone Reader (2015: Liveright)

2012: "100 Days of Student Protests in Québec: Printemps Érable or Much Ado about Nothing?" in Dissent (Co-authored with Carlos Fraenkel).

Work in Progress

"On Falling Short" - Many of us should do more - that is, more than we currently do - for others. And we know this; we are aware of our moral imperfection. Still, many of us make no effort to change. Is it ever right to accept our own moral badness? Or is that an inherently irrational idea?

"Moral Minima" - This paper sheds light on the idea of a "moral minimum" – a set of moral requirements of primary importance, and associated with special taboo. The article distinguishes between various forms of "moral minimalism," and examines their difficulties and attractions.

"What's So Special About Human Dignity?" - This article argues that human dignity is a substantive normative concept closely tied to concerns about humiliation or degradation. It challenges common understandings of human dignity as an indicator of moral status, on the one hand, and as a vehicle for concerns about autonomy, on the other.

Research interests

My work explores topics in ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, and social epistemology. I recently edited a book on the philosophy of human rights. At the moment, I'm working on projects on human dignity, moral failure, conversational breakthroughs, and the communicative roots of the desire for retribution.

Research students

I am currently supervising Jakob Hinze and Rasa Davidaviciute.


Timely Topics in Political Philosophy (PY4658)

Toleration in the Early Modern Period (PY4653) - co-taught with Alex Douglas

Intuitions and Philosophical Methodology (PY5403) - co-taught with Jessica Brown

The Philosophy of Human Rights (PY4652) - co-taught with Elizabeth Ashford, Fall 2016

Twentieth-Century Philosophers: David Wiggins (PY5326) - Spring 2017

Reading Philosophy 2: Texts in Ethics, Metaethics, Religion, Aesthetics and Political Philosophy (PY3200) - Spring 2017

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