Ingmar Persson

About Ingmar Persson

Professor of Practical Philosophy Research Fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

My research ranges from the philosophy of mind and action, via ethical theory, to applied ethics. My main publication is The Retreat of Reason – A Dilemma in the Philosophy of Life (Oxford U P, 2005) – a book which explores what attitudes it is rational to take up to time, personal identity, and free will and responsibility. My main current research projects are two. First, I am working on a book, From Morality to the End of Reason, about the need to revise common sense morality in a consequentialist direction, and the difficulty of revising it thus without its losing authority, since there are no external practical reasons. (Set of publications I below stems from this work.) Secondly, together with Julian Savulescu, Director of the Uehiro Centre, I am working on problems that arise from the fact that our moral psychology is evolutionary designed for small societies with only the simplest of technology, while modern societies have populations of millions and a sophisticated technology which could affect conditions all over the world and far into the future (publications II). But in recent time I have also done work on reproductive and population ethics (publications III), and issues of distribution and justice (publications IV).


  • ‘Two Act-Omission Paradoxes’, Proceedings of Aristotelian Society, 104 (2004), pt. 2.
  • ‘What Consequentialism Is Not’, R. Feldman et al (eds.): The Good, the Right, Life, and Death, Ashgate 2006.
  • ‘Why There Cannot be Transitivity with Respect to Supervenient Properties’, Essays Dedicated to Dag Westerståhl on his Sixtieth Birthday, 2006.
  • ‘5 Questions about Normative Ethics’, T. Petersen & J. Ryberg (eds): Normative Ethics: 5 Questions, Automatic Press, 2007.
  • ‘The Act-Omission Doctrine and Negative Rights’, Journal of Value Inquiry 41 (2007), 15-29.
  • ‘When We Have to Kill Vic. (Review of F. M. Kamm: Intricate Ethics)’, Times Literary Supplement, Feb 22, 2008.
  • ‘Consequentialism and the Distinction Between What We Ought to Do and Ought to Try’, Utilitas, 20 (2008), 348-55.


  • ‘The Perils of Cognitive Enhancement and the Requirement of Moral Enhancement of Humanity’, (co-author: Julian Savulescu) Journal of Applied Philosophy, 25 (2008), 162-77.
  • ‘Unfit for the Future? Human Nature, Scientific Progress, and the Need for Moral Enhancement’, (co-author: Julian Savulescu), J. Savulescu, R. terMeulen R & G. Kahane, (eds.) Enhancing Human Capabilities, Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming 2010.
  • ‘Moral Transhumanism’, (co-author: Julian Savulescu), Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, forthcoming 2010.


  • ‘Two Claims about Potential Human Beings’, Bioethics, 17 (2003), 503-16.
  • ‘The Root of the Repugnant Conclusion and Its Rebuttal’, J. Rydberg & T. Tännsjö (eds.): The Repugnant Conclusion, Kluwer, 2004.
  • Jämlikhet från början. Människovärdet i bio- och genetik. Nya Doxa, 2004.
  • ‘Rights and the Asymmetry Between Creating Good and Bad Lives, M. Roberts & D. Wasserman (eds.): Harming Future Persons, Springer, 2009.
  • ‘The Origination of a Human Being: A Reply to Oderberg’, Journal of Applied Philosophy, 26 (2009), 371-8.
  • ‘Actualizable Potential, Reproduction and Embryo Research’, (co-author: Julian Savulescu), Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 19 (2010), 1-10.


  • ‘A Defence of Extreme Egalitarianism’, N. Holtug & K. Lippert-Rasmussen (eds.): Egalitarianism. New Essays on the Nature and Value of Equality, Oxford U P, 2007.
  • ‘Why Levelling Down Could be Worse for Prioritarianism than for Egalitarianism’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (2008), 295-303.