Department of Political Studies

Department of Political Studies
Department of Political Studies

Colin Farrelly

Professor & Queen's National Scholar, Colin Farrelly

Professor & Queen's National Scholar
PhD (Bristol); MA, BA (McMaster)

Department of Political Studies
Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room C400
Phone:  (613) 533-6243
Fax:  (613) 533-6848
Colin Farrelly's CV (PDF, 247KB) 

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, sex selection, a citizen’s basic income and economic incentives.

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 five books and over 40 papers in academic journals in political science, philosophy, law, science and medicine.

Selected Publications:


Biologically Modified Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Genetics and Ethics (textbook in progress and under contract with Polity Press).

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). 

Sample Journal Articles: 

“Empirical Ethics and the Duty to Extend the Biological Warranty Period” Social Philosophy and Policy 30 (2013): 480-503.

“Play and Politics” Journal of Political Science Education 9(4) (2013): 487-500.  

“Normative Theorizing about Genetics” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 22(4) (2013): 408-419.

“Why the NIH Should Create an Institute of Positive Biology” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 105 (2012): 412-15.

“Biogerontology and the Intellectual Virtues” Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences 67(7) (2012): 734-46.

“”Positive Biology” as a New Paradigm for the Medical Sciences” Nature’s EMBO Reports 13(2) (2012): 186-88.

“Virtue Epistemology and the “Epistemic Fitness” of Democracy” Political Studies Review 10(1) (2012): 7-22.

“Patriarchy and Historical Materialism” Hypatia 26(1) (2011): 1-21.

“Global Aging, Well-Ordered Science and Prospection” Rejuvenation Research 13(5) (2010):607-12.

“Equality and the Duty to Retard Human Aging” Bioethics 24(8) (2010): 384-94.

“Why Aging Research?” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1197 (2010): 1–8.

 “Framing the Inborn Aging Process and Longevity Science” Biogerontology 11(3) (2010): 377-85.

“Has the Time Come to Take on Time Itself?” British Medical Journal 337 (2008):147-48.  

“A Tale of Two Strategies: The Moral Imperative to Tackle Ageing” Nature’s EMBO Reports 9(7) (2008): 592-95.

“The Institutional Theory of Legal Interpretation” University of Toronto Law Journal 58(2) (2008): 217-32.

“Justice in Ideal Theory: A Refutation” Political Studies 55 (2007): 844–864.

“Preparing for Our Enhanced Future” Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline 93(2) (2007):12-18.