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Christopher Woodard

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts

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Expertise Summary

I came to Nottingham from Warwick in 2002. My research interests are in utilitarian approaches to normative ethics and political philosophy.

In normative ethics I have a distinctive theory of 'pattern-based' reasons. These are reasons to contribute to patterns of action that are good or right; such patterns might be extended plans, or collective actions. Most philosophers believe either that such reasons do not exist, or that they exist only in cooperative contexts. I claim that they exist even in uncooperative contexts, when there is no prospect of the rest of the pattern being realized. The result is an ethical theory that is similar to, but more general than, Rule Consequentialism. I defend this theory in my book, Reasons, Patterns, and Cooperation. I am also working on wellbeing, and I am especially interested in hybrid views of it.

I am currently writing a book with the working title Taking Utilitarianism Seriously.

Teaching Summary

My teaching interests are in moral and political philosophy. I am especially interested in normative ethics (general views about right and wrong), theories of welfare or wellbeing, theories of… read more

Research Summary

I'm currently writing a book defending a novel form of utilitarianism. It is intended to present a rich and rounded version of utilitarianism, incorporating novel views about well-being, reasons,… read more

Recent Publications

My teaching interests are in moral and political philosophy. I am especially interested in normative ethics (general views about right and wrong), theories of welfare or wellbeing, theories of distributive justice, and theories of state legitimacy.

My approach to teaching is always to try to communicate two main things: why the issue under discussion matters, and how one might try to make progress in thinking about it. This motivates students to think for themselves and gives them the tools to do so.

In July 2016 I was honoured to receive a Lord Dearing Award for my teaching.

In Autumn Semester 2017 my drop in hours will be Mondays 13.30-14.30 and Thursdays 11.30-12.30.

Current Research

I'm currently writing a book defending a novel form of utilitarianism. It is intended to present a rich and rounded version of utilitarianism, incorporating novel views about well-being, reasons, rightness, moral rights, justice, democracy, decision-making, and praise and blame. I am very interested in collaborating with others, including research students, on any of these topics.

Past Research

I have worked on theories of distributive justice, pattern-based reasons, actualism and possibilism in deontic logic, and well-being. I continue to be interested in these areas.

Future Research

My work on utilitarianism will occupy me for the next several years.

  • WOODARD, C., 2018. What Good is Meaning in Life? De Ethica. (In Press.)
  • WOODARD, C., 2017. Three Conceptions of Group-Based Reasons Journal of Social Ontology. Online first,
  • WOODARD, C., 2015. Hybrid Theories. In: GUY FLETCHER, ed., The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Well-Being Routledge. 161-74
  • WOODARD, C., 2013. Classifying theories of welfare Philosophical Studies. 165(3), 787-803
  • WOODARD, C., 2013. The common structure of Kantianism and act-utilitarianism Utilitas. 25(2), 246-265
  • WOODARD, C., 2013. Collective Utilitarianism. In: JAMES E. CRIMMINS, ed., The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Utilitarianism Bloomsbury Academic. 82-83
  • WOODARD, C., 2011. Rationality and the unit of action Review of Philosophy and Psychology. 2(2), 261-277
  • WOODARD, C., 2009. Pedro's significance The Southern Journal of Philosophy. XLVII(3), 301-319
  • WOODARD, C., 2009. What's wrong with possibilism Analysis. 69(2), 219-226
  • WOODARD, C., 2008. Reasons, patterns, and cooperation New York: Routledge.
  • WOODARD, C., 2008. A New Argument Against Rule Consequentialism Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. 11, 247-261
  • WOODARD, C., 2005. Egalitarianism Philosophical Books. 46(2), 97-112
  • WOODARD, C., 2003. Group-based reasons for action Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. 6(2), 215-229
  • WOODARD, C., 2000. The Concept of Acquiescence Journal of Political Philosophy. VOL 8(PART 4), 409-432
  • WOODARD, C., 2000. Cohen and the Basic Structure Objection Acta Politica. VOL 35(PART 3), 275-301
  • WOODARD, C., 1998. Egalitarianism, Responsibility and Desert Imprints; a journal of analytical socialism. 3(1), 25-48
  • WOODARD, C., 1997. The Practice of Political Theory. In: BURNHAM, P., ed., Surviving the Research Process in Politics London: Pinter.
  • WOODARD, C., 1997. Responsibility, Desert and Liberal Theories of Justice In: Contemporary Political Studies. 1161-1168

Department of Philosophy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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