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Hannah Carnegy-Arbuthnott

Positions held

2019-2020 Postdoctoral researcher(s),
2019-2020 Postdoctoral researcher(s),


My research specialty is in social and political philosophy, moral philosophy, and feminist philosophy. My research addresses the nature and form of the boundary rights of individuals. I work broadly on theories of property and self-ownership, with a particular focus on bodily rights. This involves interrogating the philosophical foundations of property, privacy and consent.

I was a postdoctoral fellow in the ethics and politics research axis of the CRÉ for 2019-20, under the cosupervision of Natalie Stoljar (McGill) and Ryoa Chung (UdeM). Before that, I held a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University’s Center for Ethics in Society. I completed my MPhil and PhD in philosophy at University College London, under the supervision of Prof. Véronique Munoz-Dardé and Prof. Jonathan Wolff. I obtained my BA from Oxford, where I studied Philosophy and German.

The main puzzle that motivates my work is a tension that arises in comparing property rights and bodily rights. On the one hand, bodily rights are functionally identical to property rights. On the other hand, equating bodily rights too closely with property rights risks obscuring important points of moral difference between one’s body and other objects. My doctoral work developed a novel institutional account of property and self-ownership which resolves this tension. My approach explains why some aspects of ourselves are inalienable, others are potentially alienable, and external objects are straightforwardly alienable. It does so by reference to reasons that are internal to a general justification for a full scheme of property rights.

My postdoctoral research extends the scope of this normative analysis to address the structure of the right to bodily integrity, the normative significance of consent, and applied questions about the limits of markets in sex work. Beyond this, I have plans for a larger project investigating the philosophical foundations of various forms of intellectual property. The intersection between intellectual property and privacy concerns is particularly salient in the debate around uses and regulation of personal data. Intellectual property is an area that has received relatively little philosophical attention, and one where the law is facing new and interesting challenges posed by the rapid development of emerging technologies.