Joel Reynolds

Dr. Reynolds is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Disability Studies, Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Senior Advisor to The Hastings Center, and core faculty in the Disability Studies Program.

Joel Reynolds

He is founder of The Journal of Philosophy of Disability and co-founder of Oxford Studies in Disability, Ethics, and Society from Oxford University Press. He is currently associate director of graduate placement in the Department of Philosophy and chair of the external funding committee at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. At the broadest level, Dr. Reynolds' work explores the relationship between bodies, values, and society. 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. These concerns lead to research across a range of traditions and specialties, including philosophy of disability, applied ethics (especially biomedical ethics, public health, and ELSI research in genomics), European and American philosophy (with an emphasis on phenomenology and pragmatism as practiced in connection with history of philosophy), and social epistemology (particularly issues of epistemic injustice as linked to social ontology).


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 Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability and the Good Life (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023), The Meaning of Disability (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2024), and Philosophy of Disability: An Introduction (Polity, forthcoming 2024). He is also the co-editor of a 2020 special issue of The Hastings Center Report, “For All of Us? On the Weight of Genomic Knowledge," with Erik Parens. Reynolds is author or co-author of over three dozen journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, and his current research includes a number of article-length studies as well as pieces for Philosophical Foundations of Disability LawThe Encyclopedia of PhenomenologyThe Oxford Handbook of Social EpistemologyThe Routledge Handbook of Contemporary ExistentialismThe Oxford Handbook of Genetic Counseling, and The Routledge Handbook of Non-Ideal Theory. Recent authored or co-authored articles of his appear in Episteme, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, Critical Philosophy of Race, Journal of Medical Ethics, Kennedy Institute of Ethics JournalThe Hastings Center ReportFoucault StudiesLevinas Studies, and Chiasmi International: Trilingual Studies Concerning the Thought of Merleau-Ponty. His public philosophy is featured in TIME, AEON, The Conversation, Health Progress, and in a Tedx talk. You can access these writings through his personal website or PhilPeople profile (both linked above).


Reynolds regularly speaks to medical students and practitioners across specialties concerning how to improve quality and equity of care for patients with disabilities, including recent talks at the schools of medicine at Yale, Harvard, and UCLA based on his AMA Journal of Ethics piece, “Three Things Clinicians Should Know About Disability.” He is founder and chair of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy’s Committee on Accessibility, Disability, and Inclusion, chair of the Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory's Access Committee, and he recently completed his co-directorship of a 2-year NEH Public Humanities grant project, The Art of Flourishing (the book form of which is coming out with Oxford University Press). 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." 


Reynolds' work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is an honorary fellow of the McLaughlin College of Public Policy at York University and sits on the board of the Society for Philosophy and Disability. He 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. From 2017-2020, he was the inaugural Rice Family Postdoctoral Fellow in Bioethics and the Humanities at The Hastings Center and from 2014-15 he was the inaugural Laney Graduate School Disability Studies Fellow at Emory University.