David DeGrazia

David DeGrazia

David DeGrazia

Elton Professor of Philosophy, George Washington University

Core Faculty


Office Phone: (202) 994-6913


Selected Honors and Professional Service

Recipient of the 2023 Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Research

Recipient of the 2018 UVPR (GWU) Distinguished Scholar Award

Fellow of the Hastings Center (elected 2018)

Director, M.A. Program in Philosophy and Social Policy, George Washington University, July 2012 - June 2013.

Senior Advisor, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, July - December 2012.

Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities, "Creation Ethics," Sept. 2010 - Aug. 2011.

Chair, Department of Philosophy, George Washington University, May 2007 – June 2010.

Visiting Scholar, Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health, 2006-2007

Chair, Committee on Philosophy and Medicine, American Philosophical Association, July 2004 - June 2006

Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities, “Human Identity and Bioethics,” Sept. 2003-May 2004.

Co-chair, Program Committee for the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities 2000 Conference, fall 1999-fall 2000

Visiting Scholar, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland (summer and fall 1997)

Participant, Animals and Bioethics Working Group, NASA (and coauthor of "NASA Principles for the Ethical Care and Use of Animals," October 1996 - January 1997)

Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, “Taking Animals Seriously,” Sept. 1993-May 1994.

Areas of specialization: ethical theory,  applied ethics (bioethics, animal ethics, gun policy, etc.), personal identity theory. 

Areas of competence: philosophy of mind/cognitive sciences, Wittgenstein, history of analytic philosophy, history of modern philosophy.


Dialogues on Gun Control (New York: Routledge, 2023)

A Theory of Bioethics, with Joseph Millum (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021)

Principles of Animal Research Ethicswith Tom Beauchamp (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020) 

Debating Gun Control, with Lester Hunt (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Creation Ethics: Reproduction, Genetics, and Quality of Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) 

Social Ethics: Morality and Social Policy, 8th ed., coedited with Thomas Mappes and Jane Zembaty (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012)

Human Identity and Bioethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) with subsequent translations into Japanese, Hungarian, Bosnian, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, Arabic, and French. 

Biomedical Ethics, 7th ed., coedited with Thomas Mappes and Jeffrey Brand-Ballard (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011); 6th ed., 2006; 5th ed., 2001; 4th ed., 1996

Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)

Access the review of Debating Gun Control by Firmin DeBrabander in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Access the review of Creation Ethics by Bonnie Steinbock, in Notre Dame Philosophy Reviews

Access the reviews of Human Identity and Bioethics by Marya Schechtman in Ethics and by Jennifer Hawkins in Notre Dame Philosophy Reviews.


Selected Articles

“Elephants, Personhood, and Moral Status,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 66 (2023): 3-14

"Robots with Moral Status?" (PDF) Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 65 (2022): 73-88

"Ethicists and their Diets," (PDF) Hastings Center Report 52 (2022): 3 

"An Interest Based Model of Moral Status" (PDF) in S. Clark, H. Zohny, and J. Savulescu (eds.), Rethinking Moral Status (2021)

"SARS-CoV-S Infection Challenge Experiments in Nonhuman Primates: An Ethical Perspective" (PDF) (with Franklin Miller) Clinical Infectious Disease 73 (2021): 2121-2125

"Sentience and Consciousness as Bases for Interests and Moral Status: Considering the Evidence and Speculating Slightly Beyond," (PDF) in S. Johnson, A. Fenton, and A. Shriver (eds.), Neuroethics and Nonhuman Animals (2020)

"Animal Self-Awareness: Types, Distribution, and Ethical Significance," (PDF) in R. Fischer (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Animal Ethics (2020)

"Beyond the 3 Rs to a More Comprehensive Framework of Principles for Animal Research Ethics," (PDF) (with Tom Beauchamp), ILAR Journal (2019).

"Ethics of Patient Activation" (PDF) (with Sophia Gibert and Marion Danis), Journal of Medical Ethics (2017)

"Procreative Responsibility in View of What Parents Owe Their Children," (PDF) in L. Francis (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics (2017)

"On Saving Preterm Infants: A Plea for Sensible Ontology," (PDF) American Journal of Bioethics (2017).

“Defining the Boundaries of a Right to Adequate Protection: A New Lens on Pediatric Research Ethics," (PDF) (coauthored with Michelle Groman and Lisa Lee), Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (2017)

"Relieving Pain Using Dose-Extending Placebos," (PDF) (coauthored with Luana Colloca and Paul Enck), Pain (2016)

"Nonhuman Primates, Human Need, and Ethical Constraints," (PDF) Hastings Center Report (2016)

"Sentient Nonpersons and the Disvalue of Death," (PDF) Bioethics (2016)

"Modal Personhood and Moral Status: A Reply to Kagan's Proposal," (PDF) Journal of Applied Philosophy (2015).

"Necessary Conditions for Morally Responsible Animal Research," (coauthored with Jeff Sebo), Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (2015): 420-430

"Reassessing Animal Research Ethics," (PDF) (coauthored with Tom Beauchamp), Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (2015): 385-389  

"Ethical Reflections on Genetic Enhancement with the Aim of Enlarging Altruism," Health Care Analysis (2015)

"The Nature of Human Death," (PDF) in S. Luper (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Life and Death (2014)

"Handguns, Moral Rights, and Physical Security," Journal of Moral Philosophy (2014)
"The Case for Moderate Gun Control," (PDF) Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 24 (2014)
"What is Suffering and What Kinds of Beings Can Suffer?" (PDF) in Ronald Green and Nathan Palpant (eds.), Suffering in Bioethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014)

"Reply to Commentaries" (PDF)

"Is it Wrong to Impose the Harms of Human Life? A Reply to Benatar" (PDF) Theoretical Medicine & Bioethics 31 (2010): 317-331

"Just(ice) in Time for Future Generations: A Reply to Hockett and Herstein" (PDF) George Washington University Law Review 77 (5/6) (September 2009): 1216-1236

"Moral Vegetarianism from a Very Broad Basis" (PDF) Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (2) (2009): 143-165

"Self-Awareness in Animals," (PDF) in Robert Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds (Cambridge University Press, 2009): 201-217

"Moral Status as a Matter of Degree?" (PDF) Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (2) (2008): 181-198

"Single Payer Meets Managed Competition: The Case for Public Funding and Private Delivery," (PDF) Hastings Center Report 38 (1) (2008): 23-33

"Must We Have Full Moral Status Throughout Our Existence? A Reply to Alfonso Gomez-Lobo," (PDF) Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 17 (4) (2007): 297-310

"On the Ethics of Animal Research" (PDF) in Richard Ashcroft et al. (eds.), Principles of Health Care Ethics, 2nd ed. (West Sussex, UK: Wiley & Sons, 2007): 689-695

"The Harm of Death, Time-Relative Interests, and Abortion," (PDF) Philosophical Forum 38 (1) (2007): 57-80

“The Definition of Death” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"Human-Animal Chimeras: Human Dignity, Moral Status, and Species Prejudice," (PDF) Metaphilosophy 38 (2-3) (April 2007): 309-329

"Moral Status, Human Identity, and Early Embryos: A Critique of the President's Approach," (PDF) Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 34 (1) (Spring 2006): 49-57

"Enhancement Technologies and Human Identity," (PDF) Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (June 2005): 261-283

"Identity, Killing, and the Boundaries of Our Existence," (PDF) Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (4) (2003): 413-442

"Common Morality, Coherence, and the Principles of Biomedical Ethics," (PDF) Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 13 (3) (2003): 219-230

"Are We Essentially Persons? Olson, Baker, and a Reply," (PDF) Philosophical Forum 33 (1) (March 2002): 101-120

"Ethical Issues in Early-Intervention Clinical Trials Involving Minors at Risk for Schizophrenia," (PDF) Schizophrenia Research 51 (2001)

"Prozac, Enhancement, and Self-Creation," (PDF) Hastings Center Report 30 (2) (March-April 2000): 34-40

"Advance Directives, Dementia, and 'the Someone Else Problem'," Bioethics 13 (5) (1999): 373-91

"Autonomous Action and Autonomy-Subverting Psychiatric Conditions," Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 19 (4) (August 1994): 279-97

"Wittgenstein and the Mental States of Animals," History of Philosophy Quarterly 11 (1) (January 1994): 121-37

"Moving Forward in Bioethical Theory: Theories, Cases, and Specified Principlism," Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17 (5) (October 1992): 511-39

"Pain, Suffering, and Anxiety in Animals and Humans" (coauthored with Andrew Rowan)Theoretical Medicine 12 (September 1991): 193-211


Synopses of Books

Creation Ethics: The overarching aim of this book is to illuminate a broad array of issues connected with reproduction and ethics through the lens of moral philosophy. With novel frameworks for understanding prenatal moral status and human identity, DeGrazia sheds new light on the ethics of abortion and embryo research, genetic enhancement and prenatal genetic interventions, procreation and parenting, and decisions that affect the quality of life of future generations.

Human Identity and Bioethics: When philosophers address personal identity, they usually explore numerical identity. When non-philosophers address personal identity, they often have in mind narrative identity. This book develops accounts of both senses of identity, arguing that both are normatively important, and is unique in its exploration of a wide range of issues in bioethics through the lens of identity. Defending a biological view of our numerical identity and a framework for understanding narrative identity, David DeGrazia investigates various issues for which considerations of identity prove critical.

Taking Animals Seriously: Transcending the overplayed debate between utilitarians and rights theorists, the book offers a fresh methodological approach with specific constructive conclusions about our treatment of animals. David DeGrazia provides the most thorough discussion yet of whether equal consideration should be extended to animals' interests, and examines the issues of animal minds and animal well-being with an unparalleled combination of philosophical rigor and empirical documentation. This book is an important contribution to the field of animal ethics.

Biomedical Ethics: This best-selling anthology of readings with case studies provides insightful and comprehensive treatment of ethical issues in medicine. Appropriate for courses taught in philosophy departments as well as in schools of medicine and nursing, the collection covers provocative topics such as conflicts of interest in medicine, advance directives, physician-assisted suicide, and the rationing of health care. The text's effective pedagogical features include chapter introductions, argument sketches, explanations of medical terms, headnotes, and annotated bibliographies.

Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction: This volume provides a general overview of the basic ethical and philosophical issues of animal rights. It asks questions such as: Do animals have moral rights? If so, what does this mean? What sorts of mental lives do animals have, and how should we understand welfare? By presenting models for understanding animals' moral status and rights, and examining their mental lives and welfare, David DeGrazia explores the implications for how we should treat animals in connection with our diet, zoos, and research. Animal Rights distinguishes itself by combining intellectual rigor with accessibility, offering a distinct moral voice with a non-polemical tone.


Ph.D., Georgetown University
M.St., Oxford University
B.A., University of Chicago