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Joel Michael Reynolds

Joel Reynolds image
Dr. Joel Michael ReynoldsAssistant Professor
  • College
    College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Department
  • Phone
    (978) 934-2528
  • Office
    Dugan Hall - 200B
  • Email
  • Profile Links

Research Interests

Applied Ethics (esp. Bioethics); Philosophy of Disability; Continental Philosophy; Social Epistemology

Feminist Philosophy; Philosophy of Medicine; Ethics and Philosophy of Technology; Medical Humanities


  • Ph D: Philosophy, (2017), Emory University - Atlanta, GA
  • MA: Philosophy, (2014), Emory University - Atlanta, GA
  • BA: Philosophy and Religious Studies, (2009), Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon - Eugene, OR


Dr. Reynolds is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the 2017-20 Rice Family Fellow in Bioethics and Humanities at The Hastings Center. His work explores the relationship between bodies, values, and society. He is especially concerned with the meaning of disability and the issue of ableism, and how philosophical inquiry into each might improve the lives of people with disabilities and the justness of social institutions ranging from medicine to politics. He is currently the co-director of a 2-year ($250k) NEH Public Humanities "Community Conversations" grant project entitled, “The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability and Technology.”

Authored Books:

  • Ethics After Ableism: Disability, Pain, and the History of Morality (forthcoming spring 2021 with the University of Minnesota Press).

Edited Books:

  • The Disability Bioethics Reader, w/ Christine Wieseler (forthcoming fall 2022 w/ Routledge).

Special Journal Issues:

  • The Hastings Center Report, “For All of Us? On The Weight of Genomic Knowledge,” w/ Erik Parens (forthcoming Jan/Feb 2020).

He is also the author or co-author of twenty peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In addition to a series of articles, his current research is building towards two book-length projects: one engaging central debates in the philosophy of disability (currently entitled The Meaning of Ability) and another using research in phenomenology, bioethics, and feminist philosophy to explore the future of medicine as a practice of care (currently entitled Medicine After Ableism: Politics, Public Health, and the Promise of Care). Other ongoing work includes studies on {a} the intertwining of racism and ableism, {b} epistemic injustice and medical error, {c} the application of hermeneutic phenomenology and narrative medicine to clinical practice, {d} the history of modern medicine and bioethics and its relationship to colonialism, {e} care ethics and the “duty to know,” and {f} disability-related ELSI research in genomics. Related to or directly on these topics, he is continuing or developing figure-based studies on Merleau-Ponty, Fanon, Foucault, Toombs, Wynter, and Levinas, among others.

Articles and commentaries of his have appeared in:

  • The American Journal of Bioethics
  • The Hastings Center Report
  • The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
  • The American Medical Association's Journal of Ethics
  • Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
  • Levinas Studies: An Annual Review
  • Chiasmi International: Trilingual Studies Concerning the Thought of Merleau-Ponty
  • The Journal of Speculative Philosophy
  • Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine

Book chapters of his have or will soon appear in volumes including:

  • The Oxford Handbook of Genetic Counseling
  • 50 Concepts for a Critical Phenomenology
  • Applying Nonideal Theory to Bioethics
  • Philosophy of Disability: New Perspectives
  • Ethics and Medical Error
  • Normality, Abnormality, and Pathology in Merleau-Ponty
  • Disability in American Life

Dr. Reynolds' public philosophy has been featured in:

  • TIME
  • The New York Times (this fall)
  • HuffPost
  • AEON
  • Tedx

He is also a regular contributor to the researcher-led news outlet The Conversation. For more information about his research, teaching, and public scholarship, please see his website:

Selected Publications

  • Reynolds, J. (2019). Disability and the Life Worth Living: Remembering the Sagamihara 19. The New York Times' The Stone
  • Reynolds, J. (2019). Ethics After Ableism: Disability, Pain, and the History of Morality. University of Minnesota Press
  • Reynolds, J. (2019). Killing in the Name of Care. Levinas Studies.
  • Reynolds, J. (2019). The Gift and Weight of Genomic Knowledge. The Hastings Center Report.
  • Reynolds, J. (2019). Normate. 50 Concepts for an Intersectional Phenomenology, Northwestern University Press
  • Reynolds, J. (2019). Joel Michael Reynolds on Disability. Unmuted: Conversations on Prejudice, Oppression, and Social Justice, Oxford University Press
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). Caregiving, Finite Responsibility, and Infinite Hope. Examining Ethics Podcast
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). The Ethics of Care. Disability in American Life: An Encyclopedia of Concepts, Policies, and Controversies
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). Three Things Clinicians Should Know About Disability. AMA Journal of Ethics, 20(12) E1181-1187.
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). 3 Ethical Reasons for Vaccinating Your Children. The Conversation
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). The Healtholocene. Syndicate
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). The Extended Body: On Aging, Disability, and Well-Being. The Hastings Center Report, 48(S3) S31-36.
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). Merleau-Ponty, World-Creating Blindness, and the Phenomenology of Non-Normate Bodies. Chiasmi International: Trilingual Studies Concerning the Thought of Merleau-Ponty, 19 419-436.
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). Renewing Medicine’s Basic Concepts: On Ambiguity. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 13(8) 1-5.
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favour? The Politics of Prognosis. Aeon
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). What Big Data Can't Do: Analog Health and Digital Humanities. Media Commons
  • Reynolds, J. (2018). Infotality: On Living, Loving, and Dying Through Information (18:2 pp. 33-35). The American Journal of bioethics
  • Reynolds, J., Wolpe, P.R., Rommelfanger, K.S. (2017). Ethical Principles for the Use of Human Cellular Biotechnologies. Nature Biotechnology , 35 1050–1058.
  • Reynolds, J., Silvers, A. (2017). Feminist Philosophy and Disability. Philosophy: Feminism
  • Reynolds, J. (2017). Gene Editing Might Mean My Brother Would’ve Never Existed. Time Magazine
  • Reynolds, J. (2017). I’d Rather Be Dead Than Disabled—The Ableist Conflation and the Meanings of Disability. The Review of Communication, 17(3) 149-63.
  • Reynolds, J. (2016). Toward a Critical Theory of Harm: Ableism, Normativity, and Transability (BIID). APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine, 16(1) 37-46.
  • Reynolds, J. (2016). Infinite Responsibility in the Bedpan: Response Ethics, Care Ethics, and the Phenomenology of Dependency Work (Caregiving). Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 31(4).
  • Reynolds, J. (2016). The Ableism of Quality of Life Judgments in Disorders of Consciousness: Who Bears Epistemic Responsibility? (7:1 pp. 59-61). AJOB Neuroscience
  • Reynolds, J. (2014). Transability or Your Body is Not What You Think. TEDx Talks

Selected Presentations

  • The New American Eugenics - Diverse Lineages of Existentialism Conference II, June 2019
  • Towards a Genealogy of the Human Genome Project - Foucault Circle, April 2019
  • Heidegger, Disability, and Nazi Eugenics - North Texas Heidegger Symposium, April 2019
  • Biomedical Technologies and Epistemic Injustice - Epistemology of Justice Conference, March 2019
  • How Should Scientists Talk About Disability? - ComSciCom 2018, 2018 - Boston, MA
  • Don’t Drink the Water: Biocities, Biocitizens, and the Flint Water Crisis - Philosophy of the City Conference, 2018 - Bogota, Colombia
  • The Meaning of Ability: On the Future of Continental Philosophy of Disability - Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy Conference, 2018 - State College, PA
  • The Carcerality of Ability, response to Michael Rembis - 56th Meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, 2017 - Memphis, TN
  • The Silence of the Abled: Kristeva, Levinas, and the Sagamihara 19 - 56th Meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, 2017 - Memphis, TN
  • Disability Theory and Phenomenology: From Type to Spectrum to Array - American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting, 2017 - Utrecht, Netherlands
  • How to Change Ableist Thinking - American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Conference, 2017 - Kansas City, MO
  • Looking as Only a Human Can: On Doubt and Disability in Merleau-Ponty’s Cézanne - International Merleau-Ponty Circle Conference, 2017 - Albuquerque, NM
  • The Future of Bioethics: Ableism and the Life Worth Living, 2017 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Infotality: Precision Medicine and Genomic Responsibility - Western Michigan University Medical Humanities Conference, 2017 - Kalamazoo, MI
  • The Ableist Conflation: Empirical Folly, Inductive Risk, and Disability Bioethics (Winner of the Paper Award for Best Submission) - American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, 2016 - Washington, D.C.
  • ‘Wir leben, indem wir leiben’: Heidegger’s Body, Corpoietics, and the Binding of demas - Heidegger Circle, 2016 - Chicago, IL
  • On Being Outside The (Normate) Body: Merleau-Ponty’s Aveugle and Crip Phenomenology (Winner of the M.C. Dillon Memorial Lecture Award) - International Merleau-Ponty Circle, 2016 - St. Catharines, ON, Canada
  • Ableism in Decision-Making for and Treatment of People with Disabilities in Acute Care - Grand Rounds, Brown University, Department of Emergency Medicine, 2015 - Providence, RI

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Rice Family Fellow in Bioethics and the Humanities (2018), Fellowship - The Hastings Center
    Reynolds, J.
  • Rice Family Postdoctoral Fellow in Bioethics and the Humanities (2017), Fellowship - The Hastings Center
    Reynolds, J.
  • Dissertation Completion Fellow (2016), - Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Emory University
    Reynolds, J.
  • Order (On Recent Discoveries) Fellow (2015), Fellowship - Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Emory University
    Reynolds, J.
  • Arts & Sciences Fellow (2011), Fellowship - Emory University
    Reynolds, J.
  • Disability Studies Fellow (2014), Fellowship - Disability Studies Initiative and Emory’s Laney Graduate School
    Reynolds, J.