Selected Publications

American Journal of Bioethics 23 publishes article by Romanell Fellow


Summary of James Cordeiro American Journal of Bioethics article “On the Moral Permissibility of Elective Ectogestation” American Journal of Bioethics 23 (5):116-118 (2023)

The advent of artificial womb technology (AWT) raises serious moral questions, many capably framed and reviewed in De Bie et. al.’s (2022) focal article on the ethics of AWT and fetonates. Cordeiro’s commentary  addresses the moral permissibility of “elective ectogestation” (EE) which  receives sparse treatment in this otherwise admirable review.

EE refers to fetal transfer to an artificial womb during in vivo gestation at the mother’s request for non-medically indicated reasons, such as reduction of perceived burdens of gestation or earlier resumption of social life and careers. Cordeiro’s argument against its moral permissibility responds to recent arguments for its permissibility on grounds of maternal autonomy (e.g., Nelson, 2022) or as part of a regulatory compromise (Rasanen, 2022).

Cordeiro’s central thesis is that if a woman voluntarily consents to pregnancy with the intention of raising the child, and can refrain from significantly harming the child without incurring an undue burden then she has a duty not to do so.  He supports his case by countering autonomy-based rationales for the moral permissibility of EE with notions of voluntarism and parental responsibility and through an analysis of relevant harms.

His approach has some notable advantages. By focusing on the well-being of the child born through EE rather than the fetus, he sidesteps concerns over fetal moral status. He likewise avoids entering the contentious debate over  abortion rights since the mother electing EE intends to raise the child after birth by voluntarily assuming the parenting project. Finally, focusing on an identifiable child whose birth is desired by its mother avoids debates over non-identity and aligns with Elizabeth Harman’s assignment of moral status to fetuses that will be born.


Spring 2022

Barry Smith and Jobst Landgrebe are co-authors of Why Machines Will Never Rule The World — Artificial Intelligence Without Fear (Routledge 2022) The three questions central to this book are:
– What are the essential marks of human intelligence?
– What is it that researchers are trying to do when they talk of achieving ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI)?
– To what extent can AI be achieved?

The core argument is that an artificial intelligence with powers of a sort that would equal or exceed human intelligence is for mathematical reasons impossible. The reasons are that

1. intelligence of this sort is a capability of a complex dynamic system (your brain), and such systems cannot be modelled mathematically in a way that yields exact predictions;

2. but only what can be modeled mathematically in this way can be engineered to operate inside a computer.

There is a great deal which AI can achieve that will be of benefit to mankind; but it does not include the work that a human intelligence can do; it does not include AI systems more powerful than humans; and it does not include AI systems which are ‘evil’ in any sense of this word.

One consequence of our argument is that much of what is discussed in the wider world concerning the potential of AI to bring about radical changes in the very nature of human beings and of the human social order is founded on an unfortunate error.


Fall 2021

Steve Kershnar, Desert Collapses: Why No One Deserves Anything, Routledge Studies in Ethics and Moral Theory.

Adam Taylor, "The Problem of God in Indian Philosophy”, Cambridge University Press.

Robert Kelly, “How an Addiction Ontology can Unify Competing Conceptualizations of Addiction" co authored with Janna Hastings, and Robert West in Evaluating the Brain Disease Model of Addiction, Routledge University Press.

Travis Timmerman, “Not to Be: On The Badness of Death” under contract for a book with Oxford University Press.


AY 2020-2021

Authors: Shane Babcock, John Beverley, Lindsay G. Cowell, Barry Smith Published online - OFS PrePrints. See news article by Bert Gambini, Ontology powerful weapon against COVID-19.

Also see the related paper, The Coronavirus Infectious Disease Ontology (CIDO), here.

Journal of Medical Ethics publishes target article by Philip Reed

Philip Reed, PhD.

Philip Reed, PhD

Romanell Center fellow and Professor of Philosophy at Canisius College Philip Reed recently published a target article, "Expressivism at the Beginning and End of Life," in the Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (2020): 538-544. The article addresses how certain controversial biomedical practices might send a message of disrespect to the disabled. The journal solicited commentaries from Felicia Nimue Ackerman, Professor of Philosophy at Brown University; Bjørn Hofmann, Professor at the Department of Health, Technology and Society at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; John Keown, Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics; Janet Malek, Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at Baylor College of Medicine's Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy; and Joel Michael Reynolds, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Disability Studies at Georgetown University. The journal also published Prof. Reed’s response to the commentaries.

Routledge Press.

The Romanell Center is pleased to announce that five of its fellows have collaborated on a primary text for undergraduate courses on the philosophy of death and dying, which is forthcoming by Routledge Press. Exploring the Philosophy of Death: Classical and Contemporary Perspective is co-edited by Romanell Fellow, Travis Timmerman.

The book uses classic texts and contemporary contributions to investigate central questions within the philosophy of death literature. It is ideal for courses that aim to address several of the fundamental philosophical questions related to death and dying. By including works that draw from both Western (analytic and continental) and non-Western traditions, the authors present a diversity of voices that have contributed to the philosophy of death and dying throughout history.

Chapters, authored for the text by Romanell Center Fellows, include:

"Death Is Bad for Us When We're Dead.” by Neil Feit (SUNY Fredonia).

“Can We Survive our Deaths?” by Rose Hershenov and David Hershenov (University at Buffalo).

“The Possibility of Suicide.” by Philip Reed (Canisius College).
"Refuting Symmetry Arguments." by Travis Timmerman (Seton Hall University).



Debate Between Romanell Fellows about the Nature of Disease is Published in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

Romanell Fellows David Limbaugh and Neil Feit debated the question “Whether Diseases must be Harmful?”  at the Seventh Annual Romanell Conference. Feit had earlier published his “Harm and the Concept of Medical Disorder” in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (TMB) 38: 5, pp 367–385. Feit argued that Jerry Wakefield was in error to claim that disorders had to be harmful. David Limbaugh offered an original defense of why disorders were harmful entitled “The Harm of Medical Disorder as Harm in the Damage Sense” that was published in 2019 in TMB 40:1, pp. 1-20. The debate took place in Buffalo on July 28, 2018 in Buffalo. Wakefield, who was keynoting the conference at which the debate took place, declared Limbaugh the debate winner. Feit then wrote a response to Limbaugh’s response entitled “Medical Disorder, Harm, and Damage” that will be published in a future issue of TMB.

Debate Between Romanell Fellows about Abortion and Religion to be Published in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy

Romanell Fellows Phil Reed, David Hershenov, and Stephen Kershnar debated the question “Are Pro-Lifers Committed to Killing Abortion Doctors?” The Reed and Hershenov presentation was facetiously entitled “Should Steve Kershnar be Given Hemlock for Corrupting the Pro-Life Young?” Reed and Hershenov were responding to a Kershnar paper that ended up as a chapter entitled “Forfeiture and Killing Abortion Doctors” in Kershnar’s 2017 Routledge Press book Does the Pro-Life Worldview Make Sense?: Abortion, Hell, and Violence Against Abortion Doctors. The debate audience voted neither to execute or acquit Kershnar, but compromised, concluding that exile would be appropriate. The Reed and Hershenov response to Kershnar entitled “How Not to Defend the Unborn” has been accepted by the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy

Overview of selected publications by Romanell Fellows

David G. Limbaugh and Robert Kelly

  • "Libet and Freedom in a Mind-Haunted World," American Journal of Bioethics-Neuroscience.

Jake Monaghan

  • “Biological Ties and Biological Accounts of Moral Status," The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.

Phil Reed

  • How Not to Defend the Unborn” with David Hershenov, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.
  • “How to Gerrymander Intention,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 89:3 (2015): 441-460.
  • “Artifacts, Intentions, and Contraceptives: The Problem with Having a Plan B for Plan B,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38:6 (2013): 657-673.

Adam Taylor

  • “Dualism, Panpsychism, and the Moral Status of Brainless Embryos” with David Hershenov 2016. Ethics, Medicine and Public Health. Special Issue on Personal Identity and Bioethics. 2:4, 593– 601.
  •  “Personal Identity and the Possibility of Autonomy.” With David Hershenov. Dialectica. Forthcoming
  • “Can Ordinary Materialists be Autonomous?” With David Hershenov. 2016. Philosophia Christi. 18:2, 385-405

Neil Feit

  • “Harming by Failing to Benefit,” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice (forthcoming, published online September 2017, DOI 10.1007/s10677-017-9838-6).
  • “Harm and the Concept of Medical Disorder,” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38:5 (2017) 367-385.
  • “Comparative Harm, Creation and Death,” Utilitas 28:2 (2016) 136-163.
  • “Plural Harm,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90:2 (2015) 361-388.

Rose Hershenov

  • “If Abortion then Infanticide.” with David Hershenov. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics..
  • “The Potential of Potentiality Arguments” with David Hershenov in J. Eberl Ed. Contemporary Controversies in Catholic Bioethics. Springer Press. .
  • “Health, Harm and Potential” with David Hershenov. Southwest Philosophy Review, 32: 1 January 2016.
  •  “Anscombe on Embryos and Human Beings” in Anscombe and The Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Neumann Press. Eds. John Mizzoni, Philip Pegan, Geoffrey Karabin.. 2016. pp. 143-160.

David Hershenov

  • “Pathocentric Medicine and a Moderate Internal Morality of Medicine”, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy..
  • “Health, Interests, and Equality” with Rose Hershenov, Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics..
  • “Morally Relevant Potential” with Rose Hershenov. Journal of Medical Ethics, 2015. 41:3. 268-271.
  • “Death and Dignity.” Anscombe Forum: Human Dignity. Eds: John Mizzoni, Neumann University Press. 2016. pp. 93-116

Jim Delaney

  • Taking pleasure in the good and well-being: the harmless pleasure objection. 2017. Philosophia. (Published online September 15, 2017.)
  • Is presumed consent a morally permissible policy for organ donation?” Controversies in Catholic Bioethics, Springer Press. Forthcoming.
  • Catholicism and the duty to vaccinate. 2017. American Journal of Bioethics 17(4): 56-57.
  • Human enhancement and identity-affecting changes: the problem of controversial cases. 2016. Ethics, Medicine, and Public Health 2(4): 499-506.
  • The nonidentity problem and bioethics: a natural law perspective. 2016. Christian Bioethics 22(2): 122-142.
  • Therapy, enhancement, and the ethics of business in medicine: challenges for the doctor-patient relationship and patient safety. Published online January 29, 2016. (co-authored with David Martin). Journal of Business Ethics.

Travis Timmerman

  • You're Probably Not Really a Speciesist, forthcoming at Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 
  • Your Death Might be the Worst Thing Ever to Happen to You (But Maybe You Shouldn't Care), the Canadian Journal of Philosophy (2016)
  • Reconsidering Categorical Desire Views, In Michael Cholbi (ed.), Immortality and the Philosophy of Death, Rowman and Littlefield (2016)
  • Sometimes There is Nothing Wrong with Letting a Child Drown, Analysis (2015)

Barry Smith

Peter Koch

  • Koch. P, Lazaridis, C. “What does it mean for a Critically Ill Patient to Fare Well?” Intensive Care Medicine (2017). doi:10.1007/s00134-017-4819-8
  • Bruce, C. R. and Koch, P. “Opting out of Bad Texas Legislation”. Houston Business Journal. .
  • Bruce, C. R. and Koch, P. “Flawed Assumptions: Ethical Problems with Proposed Presumed Consent Legislation”. American Journal of Transplantation. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/ajt.14402. 
  • Kothari S, Sullivan, LS, Koch, P, and Lazaridis, C. “Changing the Conversation:  A Capabilities Approach to Disordered Consciousness.” American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience. 

Jack Freer

  • Freer. J, Berman, H., Koch, P, and Craenen, G. “Comfort Care Request for a Pre-Term Infant: A Prescriptive Analysis.” American Journal of Bioethics. 17(1). 2017.

Steve Kershnar

Geert Craenen

  • “Declaring Conflict of Interest - Current State of Affairs in the Ophthalmic Literature” in Accountability in Research: Policies and Quality Assurance.




Romanell Lecture Series, Oxford University Press

Tragic Failures: How and Why We are Harmed by Toxic Chemicals.

Tragic Failures: How and Why We are Harmed by Toxic Chemicals
Carl F. Cranor, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, UC Riverside

Provides a new unified diagnosis of environmental law; Builds its thesis on recent public health law and important new tort law decisions; Poses solutions to the many adverse effects of enironmental legislation on the individual.

What Do Philosophers Do?

What Do Philosophers Do?
Penelope Maddy, Founding Chair,
UC Irvine, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science

Evaluates a range of philosophical methods: common sense, scientific naturalism, ordinary language, conceptual analysis, and therapeutic approaches; presents arguments for radical skepticism from an everyday point of view.

All Talked Out: Naturalism and the Future of Philosophy.

All Talked Out: Naturalism and the Future of Philosophy
J.D. Trout, Illinois Institute of Technology

Contains insights into our cognitive limitations that will prove useful to psychologists and policy makers; Makes a significant contribution to the literature on the future of philosophy; A novel approach to conflicts of interest in government.