Jonathan Wolff (philosopher)

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Jonathan Wolff
Jonathan Wolff lecture 9.20.12 HarvardEthics -5 (cropped).jpg
Wolff in 2012
Born (1959-06-25) 25 June 1959 (age 63)
Alma materUniversity College London
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolAnalytic philosophy
InstitutionsUniversity College London
Academic advisorsG. A. Cohen
Main interests
Political philosophy

Jonathan Wolff (born 25 June 1959) is a British philosopher and academic. He was Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at University College London in 2012–16.

Life and career[edit]

Wolff was born on 25 June 1959 to Herbert Wolff and Doris Wolff (née Polakoff).[1] He earned his MPhil from UCL[2] under the direction of G.A. Cohen in 1985.[3] Apart from one year as a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University, he has taught at UCL ever since. As of 1 September 2016, he holds the Blavatnik Chair in Public Policy in the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University.[4]

He was formerly the secretary of the British Philosophical Association and has been Editor and then honorary secretary of the Aristotelian Society, which publishes Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. Recently, Wolff's work has specialised in disadvantage and equality and public policy decision making.

As a scholar on the topic of Marxism, Wolff published "Marx and Exploitation", an article about Marxist thinking, in The Journal of Ethics. He also co-edited (with Michael Rosen) Political Thought (ISBN 0-19-289278-9), an introductionary reader on political philosophy.

He has also published a critique of Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia called Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State, a short book on Karl Marx, Why Read Marx Today?, and An Introduction to Political Philosophy. He currently writes a monthly column for The Guardian and occasionally blogs at Brian Leiter's "Leiter Reports" blog.

Jonathan Wolff presented a four-part series about the UK's National Health Service for the BBC's Radio 3 programme 'The Essay' during the week of 27 July 2009.[5] The series, entitled "Doctoring Philosophy", marked the 60th anniversary of the NHS and commenced by studying the philosophical background which led to the foundation of the service and the changing definitions of sickness and health. It went on to explore entitlement, issues of equality of service, and issues of priorities in a world of universal access.

He was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2008 to 2014 and served on two of the council's working parties; on the ethics of animal research,[6] and the ethics of personalised healthcare[7]


Journal articles
See also: Scanlon, T.M. (December 2003). "Replies". Ratio. 16 (4): 424–439. doi:10.1046/j.1467-9329.2003.00231.x.


  1. ^ "WOLFF, Prof. Jonathan". Who's Who 2014. A & C Black. December 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  2. ^ Wolff, Jonathan. "Personal Homepage". University College London. Retrieved 11 December 2007.
  3. ^ O'Grady, Jane (10 August 2009). "GA Cohen". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Wolff from UCL to Oxford". 27 April 2016.
  5. ^ "BBC Radio 3 – The Essay, Doctoring Philosophy". BBC. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  6. ^ Nuffield Council on Bioethics official website-animal research
  7. ^ Nuffield Council on Bioethics official website-personalised healthcare

External links[edit]