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)
Political Theory

Department of Political Studies (Cross-Appointed with the Department of Philosophy)
Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room C400
Phone:  (613) 533-6243 
Colin Farrelly's CV (PDF, 267 KB) 

Colin is a political theorist and philosopher. 

Research Interests

The foundational aspiration of Colin’s research is the advancement of the Enlightenment Project into the 21st century.  The themes of reason, science, progress, and optimism inform his curiosity-driven research interests and interdisciplinary focus.

Main research interests are: Ethics and political theory/philosophy, including: distributive justice; ideal/non-ideal theory; history of political thought, deliberative democracy; all things virtue-related: virtue ethics, virtue epistemology and virtue jurisprudence; Analytical Marxism; play; science and justice - especially the biomedical sciences (e.g. genetics, evolutionary biology, “geroscience” and the ethics of human enhancement).

Brief Biography

Colin received his PhD from the University of Bristol in England in 1999.  Over his 20 year academic career he has held academic appointments in 10 different departments in Political Science, Philosophy and Public Policy in England, Scotland, the United States and Canada.  Previous appointments include Visiting Professor in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Manoa in Hawaii, 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.  For the past 5 years Colin has been involved in teaching philosophy to male inmates. 

The author and editor of 6 books and approximately 50 journal articles, Colin’s publications include articles in journals in political science, philosophy, feminism, law, science and medicine.  He has published on a diverse array of topics, including the health challenges posed by population aging, the creation and evolution of patriarchy, virtue ethics, virtue epistemology, virtue jurisprudence, play and politics, freedom of expression, judicial review, non-ideal theory, gene patents, deliberative democracy, nanotechnology, sex selection, toleration, a citizen’s basic income, enhancing soldiers and economic incentives.  

Colin’s next major research project explores the idea of the “playful” society as a realistic utopia and draws on empirical insights from evolutionary biology and positive psychology. 


Selected Publications:


Genetic Ethics: An Introduction (Polity Books, 2018)

Biologically Modified Justice  (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

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 of Journal Articles and Book Chapters: 

● Tyler J. Vander Weele, Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, Paul Allin, Colin Farrelly et al. “Current Recommendations on the Selection of Measures for Well-being” Preventive Medicine Vol 133, April 2020. [access online for free]

● Tyler J. Vander Weele, Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, Paul Allin, Colin Farrelly et al. “Brief Well-being Assessments, or Nothing at All? Preventive Medicine Vol 135, June 2020.

● “Toleration, “Mindsight” and the Epistemic Virtues” (forthcoming) in The Palgrave Handbook on Toleration.

● ““Positive Biology” and Well-Ordered Science” in Measuring Well-Being: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Social Sciences and the Humanities (edited by Matthew Lee, Laura Kubzansky, and Tyler VanderWeele) (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2020).

● “The “Focusing Illusion” of Rawlsian Ideal Theory” in John Rawls: Debating the Major Questions (edited by Sarah Roberts-Cady and Jon Mandle) (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2020). 

● “Insulating Soldiers from the Emotional Costs of War:  An Ethical Analysis” forthcoming in Transhumanizing War: Performance Enhancement and the Implications for Policy, the Soldier, and Society (eds. C. Breede, S. von Hlatky and S. Bélanger) (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019).

● “Aging, Geroscience and Freedom” Rejuvenation Research 22(2) 2019:  163-170.

●”Gene Patents and the Social Justice Lens” American Journal of Bioethics 18(12) (2018): 49-51.

● “Virtue Epistemology and the Democratic Life” in The Oxford Handbook to Virtue (edited by Cynthia Snow) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). 

● “Justice and Life Extension” in End-of-Life Ethics (edited by John Davis) (New York, NY: Routledge Publishing, 2016). 

● “International Political and Economic Structures:  Book Symposium Contribution on Mathias Risse’s On Global Justice” The Ethics Forum 8(2) (2013): 41–52. 

● “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.

● “Deliberative Democracy and Nanotechnology” Nanoethics: Examining the Societal Impact of Nanotechnology (NJ: John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2007) edited by Fritz Allhoff, Patrick Lin, James Moor and John Weckert.