Frances Kamm

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Frances M. Kamm
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
Main interests
Ethics, bioethics, philosophy of law, political philosophy, Kantianism

Frances Myrna Kamm (/kæm/) is an American philosopher specializing in normative and applied ethics. At Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Kamm is currently the Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Professor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. She is also Professor Emerita in the Department of Philosophy at New York University.

Kamm studied at Barnard College, receiving her B.A. in 1969. She completed her doctorate in 1980 at the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy (thesis supervisor Barbara Herman). She was on the faculty of New York University during the 1980s to 1990s and received a professorship at Harvard in 2003.

Kamm's early work was concerned with the moral justification of abortion under the assumption of fetal personhood. She is also specifically associated with the trolley problem.[1]

Kamm worked as an ethics consultant for the World Health Organization.[citation needed] She is a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution in Garrison, New York. She is a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution in Garrison, New York.[citation needed][year needed] She held ACLS, AAUW, and Guggenheim fellowships, and has been a Fellow of the Program in Ethics and the Professions at the Kennedy School, the Center for Human Values at Princeton, and the Center for Advanced Study at Stanford.[citation needed] She is a member of the editorial boards of Philosophy & Public Affairs, Legal Theory, Bioethics, and Utilitas.[citation needed][year needed] In August 2007, Kamm delivered the annual Oslo Lecture in Moral Philosophy. In 2008, she delivered the Uehiro Lectures at Oxford University in England. In 2011, Kamm was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as an ethics consultant. In 2013, she delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at the University of California, Berkeley.[2] Kamm teaches the Gamma Cohort of the 2017 Harvard Kennedy School MPP program.[citation needed]


  • "Abortion: A Philosophical Analysis", Feminist Studies 1.2 (Autumn 1972), 49-64.
  • Problems in the Morality of Killing and Letting Die, doctoral dissertation, MIT, February 1980,
  • "Killing and Letting Die: Methodological and Substantive Issues", Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64 (October 1983), 297–312.
  • "The Problem of Abortion", in: R. Abelson, M. Friquenon (eds.), Ethics for Modern Life, 2nd ed. (1981).
  • "Killing and Letting Die: Methodology and Substance", Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64 (1983), 297-312.
  • "Supererogation and obligation", Journal of Philosophy 82.3 (1985), 118-138.
  • "Harming, Not Aiding, and Positive Rights", Philosophy & Public Affairs 15.1 (1986), 3-32.
  • "Harming Some to Save Others", Philosophical Studies 57 (1989), 251–256.
  • "Non-consequentialism, the Person as an End-in-Itself, and the Significance of Status", Philosophy & Public Affairs 21 (1992), 381–389.
  • Creation and Abortion, 1992.
  • Morality, Mortality, Vol. 1: Death and Whom to Save From It, 1993.
  • "Abortion and the Value of Life: A Discussion of Life's Dominion", Columbia Law Review 95 (1995), 160–172.
  • Morality, Mortality, Vol. 2: Rights, Duties, and Status, 1996.
  • "Ethical Issues in Using and Not Using Embryonic Stem Cells", Stem Cell Reviews 1, Summer 2006.
  • "Moral Intuitions, Cognitive Psychology and the Harming/Not Aiding Distinction", Ethics, 1998.
  • "Ronald Dworkin's views on abortion and assisted suicide", Journal of Ethics (2004), 218–240.
  • Intricate Ethics: Rights, Responsibilities, and Permissible Harm. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Bioethical Prescriptions: To Create, End, Choose, and Improve Lives (2013)
  • The Trolley Problem Mysteries (2015)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "I think it fair to say that no one has worked harder to solve the trolley problem than Kamm has. Over the years she has probably examined hundreds of different cases, and she has struggled mightily to produce a principle that matches our intuitions about those cases" Shelly Kagan, cited after Bert I. Huang, review of "The Trolley Problem Mysteries" (2015). "The current Miss Marple of trolleyology is Frances Kamm, a Harvard professor. She's the daughter of concentration camp survivors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she takes morality very seriously. She dedicated one of her books to 'the love of morality'." (dedicatory note in Morality, Mortality, Vol. 2 (1996), "For the love of morality, another way to live; For Mala Schlussel Kamm (1911-1996) dearest mother, remarkable person") David Edmomds, "Killing the fat man", The Jewish Chronicle, 20 December 2013.
  2. ^ Harvard University Faculty Profile for Frances Kamm (accessed 5 October 2015)

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