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Queen's University

Colin Farrelly

B.A., M.A. (McMaster), Ph.D. (Bristol)


      CV Website | Email
      Department of Political Studies
      Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room C405
      Phone:  (613) 533-6243
      Fax:  (613) 533-6848


“Positive Biology” covered in the National Post and CBC Radio  

Colin is on sabbatical for the 2013/14 academic year and will be Visiting Professor in the Department of Public Policy at UCLA.

Brief Biography

Colin is a political theorist and philosopher and a Queen's National Scholar.  In addition to teaching at Queen’s University, Colin has held the positions of Visiting Professor in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University, Visitor in Oxford’s Program on Ethics and the New Biosciences, as well as permanent academic appointments at Waterloo University, Manchester University and the University of Birmingham.  He has published 4 books and over 40 papers in academic journals in political science, philosophy, law, science and medicine.

Research Interests

More than 2000 years ago Aristotle described politics as a normative practical science.   He believed that politics was the most authoritative of all the sciences (prescribing which sciences ought to be studied) because the central concern of politics is the good of humans.  This ancient conception of the discipline inspires Colin’s current research which integrates ethics and political philosophy with the empirical findings of evolutionary biology, genetics and psychology.  Aspiring to help bridge the gap between the biological sciences and political theory, Colin is interested in how our species’ evolutionary history impacts (for better and worse) our ability to flourish, as both individuals and collectively as societies.  He has published on a diverse array of topics, including the health challenges posed by population aging, the creation and evolution of patriarchy, virtue jurisprudence, play and politics, freedom of expression, judicial review, non-ideal theory, deliberative democracy, nanotechnology, gender selection, a citizen’s basic income and economic incentives.

Publications Include:


Virtue Jurisprudence (co-edited with Lawrence Solum) (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008).
Justice, Democracy and Reasonable Agreement (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007).
An Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory (London: Sage Publications, 2004).
Contemporary Political Theory: A Reader (editor) (London: Sage Publications, 2004). 

JOURNAL ARTICLES (from the past decade of research)

“Empirical Ethics and the Duty to Extend the Biological Warranty Period” (forthcoming) Social Philosophy and Policy.
“Play and Politics” (forthcoming) Journal of Political Science Education .
“Normative Theorizing about Genetics” (forthcoming) Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics .

Why the NIH Should Create an Institute of Positive BiologyJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Biogerontology and the Intellectual VirtuesJournal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences
Positive Biology” as a New Paradigm for the Medical SciencesNature’s EMBO Reports
Virtue Epistemology and the “Epistemic Fitness” of DemocracyPolitical Studies Review

Patriarchy and Historical MaterialismHypatia

Global Aging, Well-Ordered Science and ProspectionRejuvenation Research
Equality and the Duty to Retard Human AgingBioethics
Why Aging Research?Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Mind the Gap: Senescence and BeneficencePublic Affairs Quarterly
Framing the Inborn Aging Process and Longevity ScienceBiogerontology 

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, Reproductive Freedom, and Deliberative DemocracyJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Towards a More Inclusive Vision of the Medical SciencesQJM: An International Journal of Medicine

Genetic Justice Must Track Genetic ComplexityCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Aging Research, Priorities and AggregationPublic Health Ethics
Has the Time Come to Take on Time Itself?” British Medical Journal
The Case for Re-thinking Incest LawsJournal of Medical Ethics
3 WishesJournal of Evolution and Technology
A Tale of Two Strategies: The Moral Imperative to Tackle AgeingNature’s EMBO Reports
The Institutional Theory of Legal InterpretationUniversity of Toronto Law Journal

Gene Patents and JusticeJournal of Value Inquiry
Justice in Ideal Theory: A RefutationPolitical Studies
Sufficiency, Justice and the Pursuit of Health- ExtensionRejuvenation Research
Preparing for Our Enhanced FutureJournal of Medical Licensure and Discipline
Virtue Ethics and Prenatal Genetic EnhancementStudies in Ethics, Law, and Technology

Civic Liberalism and the ‘Dialogical Model’ of Judicial ReviewLaw and Philosophy
Dualism, Incentives and the Demands of Rawlsian JusticeCanadian Journal of Political Science
Historical Materialism and SuperveniencePhilosophy of the Social Sciences

Justice in the Genetically Transformed SocietyKennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
Making Deliberative Democracy a More Practical Political IdealEuropean Journal of  Political Theory

Genes and EqualityJournal of Medical Ethics
The Genetic Difference PrincipleAmerican Journal of Bioethics
Taxation and Distributive JusticePolitical Studies Review

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Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000