Joel Michael Reynolds

Joel Michael Reynolds


Senior Advisor

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Joel Michael Reynolds Senior Advisor to The Hastings Center, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Disability Studies at Georgetown University, Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and Faculty Scholar of The Greenwall Foundation. He is also the founder of The Journal of Philosophy of Disability and co-founder of Oxford Studies in Disability, Ethics, and Society. His research and public engagement center on foundational issues concerning ethics, society, and embodiment. What does flourishing mean in the genomic age? How do our bodies shape experience, understanding, and judgment? How can bioethics better incorporate the insights from disability studies and activism? He is especially concerned with the meaning of disability, the issue of ableism, and how philosophical inquiry into each might improve the lives of people with disabilities and the justness of institutions ranging from medicine to politics. Seeking to bring reflective and empirical insights together, he engages work across the humanities and social sciences, with a special emphasis on the role of lived experience. Dr. Reynolds is the co-director with Erik Parens of a 2-year, $250k NEH Public Humanities Community Conversations grant project: “The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability, Technology, and Belonging,” which wrapped up in 2022 and is forthcoming in book form from Oxford University Press next year.

Reynolds is the author or co-editor of five books, including The Life Worth Living: Disability, Pain, and Morality (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), The Disability Bioethics Reader (Routledge, 2022), The Meaning of Disability (Oxford University Press, 2024), and Philosophy of Disability: An Introduction (Polity, 2024). In 2020, he co-edited with Erik Parens a special issue of The Hastings Center Report entitled, “For All of Us? On the Weight of Genomic Knowledge.” Based on his 2018 AMA Journal of Ethics piece, “Three Things Clinicians Should Know About Disability,” Dr. Reynolds regularly speaks with and consults for medical educators across specialties concerning how to improve the quality and equity of care for patients with disabilities, including recent talks at the schools of medicine at Yale, Harvard, and UCLA and for grand rounds in the USA and Canada, including Brown University’s Department of Emergency Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, Parkland Health & Hospital System, and Horizon Health Network.

Author or co-author of over fifty journal articles, book chapters, and scholarly commentaries, Dr. Reynolds’ work appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, Episteme: A Journal of Individual and Social Epistemology, Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, Journal of Medical Ethics, Critical Philosophy of Race, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, The Hastings Center Report, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, The American Journal of Bioethics, Foucault Studies, Levinas Studies, and Chiasmi International: Trilingual Studies Concerning the Thought of Merleau-Ponty. Current research includes a number of article-length studies as well as book chapters for Philosophical Foundations of Disability Law, The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology, The Encyclopedia of Phenomenology, Climate Change and Mental Health Equity, The Routledge Handbook of Non-Ideal Theory, and The Oxford Handbook of Genetic Counseling.

His public scholarship includes pieces in TIME, AEON, The Conversation, Health Progress, The Bioethics Forum, The Philosopher, and a Tedx talk. He is the founder and chair of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy’s Committee on Accessibility, Disability, and Inclusion, chair of the Access Committee for The Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory, and he sits on the board of the Society for Philosophy and Disability as well as on the editorial advisory board of The Journal of Human-Technology Relations. In fall 2022, he will direct the 46th annual meeting of The International Merleau-Ponty Circle at Georgetown University on the theme, “Fits and Misfits: Rethinking Disability, Debility, and the World with Merleau-Ponty.”

Dr. Reynolds’ work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Greenwall Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2022 he was named an honorary fellow of the McLaughlin College of Public Policy at York University. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy as well as in Religious Studies from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Emory University. He previously held the inaugural Rice Family Postdoctoral Fellowship in Bioethics and the Humanities at The Hastings Center from 2017-2020 and the inaugural Laney Disability Studies Fellowship at Emory University from 2014-15. You can reach Dr. Reynolds (he/they) by email at or at For more detailed information, please see his website:

You can also follow Dr. Reynolds on PhilPapers, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, SSRN, and his personal website.


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