Skip to main content

Jacob Barrett

Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Assistant Professor of Political Science

I work primarily in social, moral, and political philosophy. Much of my research is interdisciplinary: it brings social scientific tools and evidence to bear on moral and political questions, and so falls under the umbrella of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (“PPE”).

Although I work on a wide range of topics, most connect to questions about social reform or improvement, such as: How should we theorize about social reform? What makes social institutions better or worse? How do social institutions function and change? And when and how should individuals contribute to efforts to promote social reform?

I am especially interested in approaching these questions from a long-term and expansive perspective that attends both to our institutions’ long-run evolution and to their effects on people in other societies, on non-human animals, and on future generations.


Social and Political Philosophy; Normative Ethics; Philosophy, Politics, and Economics ("PPE")

Representative publications

"Moral Uncertainty and Public Justification" (with Andreas T Schmidt), Philosophers’ Imprint (forthcoming).

"Longtermist Political Philosophy: An Agenda for Future Research" (with Andreas T Schmidt), in H. Greaves, J. Barrett, D. Thorstad (Eds.), Longtermism: Present Action for the Distant Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).

"Deviating from the Ideal," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107, no. 1 (2023): 31-52.

Review of Ben Laurence, Agents of Change: Political Philosophy in PracticeEthics 134, no. 1 (2023): 141-146.

"Ethical Veganism and Free Riding" (with Sarah Raskoff), Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 24, no. 2 (2023): 184-212.

"Social Experimentation in an Unjust World" (with Allen Buchanan), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy 9 (2023): 127-152.

"Ideology Critique and Game Theory," Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52, no. 7 (2022): 714-728.

"Subjectivism and Degrees of Well-Being," Utilitas 34, no. 1 (2022): 97-104. (reply)

Review of David Estlund, Utopophobia: On The Limits (If Any) of Political PhilosophyMind 13, no. 522 (2022): 691-700.

"Optimism about Moral Responsibility," Philosophers' Imprint 20, no. 33 (2020): 1-17.

"Punishment and Disagreement in the State of Nature," Economics and Philosophy 36, no. 3 (2020): 334-354.

"Efficient Inequalities," Journal of Political Philosophy 28, no. 2 (2020): 181-198.

"Social Reform in a Complex World," Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 17, no. 2 (2020): 103-132.

Is Maximin Egalitarian?” Synthese 197, no. 2 (2020): 818-837. 

Laws, Norms, and Public Justification: The Limits of Law as an Instrument of Reform” (with Gerald Gaus), in S. A. Langvatn, M. Kumm, & W. Sadurski (Eds.), Public Reason and Courts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2020), 201-228.

Review of Kevin Vallier, Must Politics be War? Restoring our Trust in the Open SocietyJournal of Moral Philosophy 17, no. 5 (2020): 567-570.

Interpersonal Comparisons with Preferences and Desires,” Politics, Philosophy & Economics 18, no. 3 (2019): 219-241.