Professor Ben Colburn
- Professor of Political Philosophy (Philosophy)
Ben Colburn is Professor of Political Philosophy. He has worked at Glasgow since 2010, and was Head of Philosophy from 2017 to 2020. Before arriving in Cambridge he studied and worked in Cambridge, receiving his PhD in 2008, and holding a research fellowship at Corpus Christi College from 2008 to 2010.
His main research interests are in political philosophy and ethics, with a particular interest in the nature and value of autonomy and its importance in liberal political philosophy. He is currently writing on various questions in this area, and also some topics in the theory of responsibility, including coercion, vicarious responsibility, and the role of responsibility in the autonomous life.
Ben has a further interest in exploring how foundational philosophical ideas (like autonomy and responsibility) can be put to use in policy and practice. He has a number of ongoing collaborative research projects along these lines, including work on refugee education, on end of life care, and on architecture and urban design.
Ben has supervised students working within political philosophy, ethics, and nearby fields. Specific topics have included neutrality, the philosophy of education, egalitarianism, multiculturalism, political economy, decision theory, and applied ethics.
He is happy to supervise doctoral work in most areas of political philosophy, and in many areas of ethics. Prospective students should drop him a line.
Current PhD students:
- Armstrong, Luke
Autonomy in Political Liberalism: Does it rely on folk psychology?
- Latkovskis, Imants
Perfectionism, Paternalism, and Capabilities: Reassessing the Role of Liberalism Within the Capability Approach
- Philipp Dapprich: The philosophical basis of a socialist planned economy
- Maria Pia Mendez: Self-authorship in the political sphere: Collective self-government and autonomy
Completed PhD students:
- Carole Baillie (2015) Revealing the Multiculturalist's Illusion: A Liberal Critique
- James Humphries (2016) Authority, Autonomy and Anarchy
- Catherine Robb (2017) The Nature and Value of Talent
- Patrick Kaczmarek (2017) A Fairness Based Astronomical Waste Argument
- Frodo Podschwadek (2018) Rawlsian Liberalism and Public Education
- Ewan Burns (2020) Conservatism: towards a traditionalist moral and political epistemology
Ben is on sabbatical leave in 2020-21. He usually teaches a combination of courses in ethics, political philosophy and the history of philosophy.
Ben is Secretary of the Analysis Trust, and sits on the executive committee of the Mind Association and the editorial board of The Philosophical Quarterly. He is a member of the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group, of the Glasgow Law and Philosophy Network, and the Cross-Party Group on End of Life Choices at the Scottish Parliament.