Joel Reynolds

Joel Michael Reynolds is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Disability Studies (effective August 1) at Georgetown University, Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Senior Bioethics Advisor to The Hastings Center, and Faculty Scholar of The Greenwall Foundation.

Photo of Joel Reynolds

Since 2021, Dr. Reynolds has been a Visiting Lecturer in Bioethics at the Yale School of Medicine, and they are the 2023-24 Visiting Professor in Critical Care Ethics and Decision-Making at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. At Georgetown, they are also core faculty in the Disability Studies Program, core faculty in the Medical Humanities Initiative, a faculty fellow of Ethics Lab, and director of graduate placement in the Department of Philosophy. They are founder of The Journal of Philosophy of Disability and co-founder of Oxford Studies in Disability, Ethics, and Society. In 2022, they were named an Honorary Fellow of the McLaughlin College of Public Policy at York University and in 2023, they were elected as a Fellow of The Hastings Center.


Bridging inquiry across the humanities, social sciences, and life sciences, Dr. Reynolds' research explores foundational issues at the intersection of ethics, biomedicine, and society, with a special focus on identifying, mitigating, and eliminating disability health disparities. Their work advocates for and facilitates research efforts that center the lived experience of historically marginalized and oppressed groups as well as prioritizes community engagement across a diverse range of stakeholders to bring about health justice. 


Based on their 2018 AMA Journal of Ethics article, “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, Tufts, University of Washington, UCLA, and Oakland University, and for grand rounds in the USA and Canada, including Brown University’s Department of Emergency Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, Hackensack Meridian Health, University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Critical Care, Horizon Health Network, Parkland Health & Hospital System, and University of Texas Medical Branch. An internationally recognized expert on disability bioethics, they have given 100+ lectures, keynote addresses, and conference talks at universities and medical schools across the globe, including recent and upcoming international talks at the University of Southern Denmark, University of Lyon (France), University of Basel (Switzerland), Universidad de La Salle (Columbia), Middle East Technical University (Turkey), University of Otago (New Zealand/Aotearoa), University of Barcelona (Spain), Monash University (Australia), and Toronto Metropolitan University (Canada). Dr. Reynolds also advises and provides expert testimony for legal teams in the USA and Canada on disability discrimination and disability rights cases.


Reynolds is the author or co-author of 50+ journal articles, book chapters, and scholarly commentaries as well as author or co-editor of 6 books including The Life Worth Living: Disability, Pain, and Morality (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), The Disability Bioethics Reader (Routledge, 2022), Disability Justice in Public Health Emergencies (Routledge, 2025), The Meaning of Disability (Oxford University Press, 2025), and Philosophy of Disability: An Introduction (Polity, 2026). Their article-length work appears in leading journals across multiple fields, including The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, Episteme, Journal of Medical Ethics, Hastings Center Report, Chiasmi International: Contemporary Phenomenology and Merleau-Ponty StudiesBiological Psychiatry, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare EthicsCritical Philosophy of Race, and Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy. Current research includes a multi-year, externally funded project from The Greenwall Foundation on the relationship between concepts of disability and health measures such as quality of life as well as book chapters for volumes including Methods in Medical Ethics (3rd ed.),Philosophical Foundations of Disability Law, The Encyclopedia of Phenomenology, The Oxford Handbook of Genetic Counseling, and The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology.


Reynolds is regularly interviewed by journalists in outlets including NPR, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Their public scholarship includes pieces in TIME, AEON, The Conversation, Health ProgressThe Bioethics ForumThe Philosopher, and a Tedx talk. They are the founder of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy’s Committee on Accessibility, Disability, and Inclusion, and they sit on the board of the Society for Philosophy and Disability, on the scientific committee of the International Congress on Law and Mental Health, and on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Philosophical Studies and the Journal of Human-Technology Relations. In 2020, they co-edited with Erik Parens a special issue of The Hastings Center Report entitled, “For All of Us? On the Weight of Genomic Knowledge,” which was based on an interdisciplinary conference exploring that subject they co-organized at Brooklyn Law School two years earlier. From 2018-2021, they were co-PI (also with Parens) on a $250k NEH Public Humanities grant project, The Art of FlourishingConversations on Disability, Technology, and Belonging, the book form of which will appear from Oxford University Press next year. In 2022, they directed 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,” and a special issue based on this conference and co-edited with Gail Weiss is forthcoming this fall in Puncta: A Journal of Critical Phenomenology.


Dr. Reynolds’ work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Greenwall Foundation. They earned a B.A. in Philosophy as well as in Religious Studies from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Emory University. They 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 (they/he) by email at joel.reynolds@georgetown.edu