Joel Michael Reynolds is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Disability Studies at Georgetown University, a Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, a Senior Advisor to The Hastings Center, and core faculty in Georgetown’s Disability Studies Program. He is the founder of The Journal of Philosophy of Disability and co-founder of Oxford Studies in Disability, Ethics, and Society.
At the broadest level, Dr. Reynolds’ work explores the relationship between bodies, values, and society. He is especially concerned with the meaning of disability, the issue of ableism, and how philosophical inquiry into each might improve the lives of people with disabilities and the justness of institutions ranging from medicine to politics. These concerns lead to research across a range of traditions and specialties, including philosophy of disability, applied ethics (especially biomedical ethics, public health, and ELSI research in genomics), 20th c. European and American philosophy (with an emphasis on phenomenology and pragmatism as practiced in connection with the history of philosophy), and social epistemology (particularly issues of epistemic injustice as linked to social ontology).
Reynolds is the author or co-editor of five books, including The Life Worth Living: Disability, Pain, and Morality (University of Minnesota Press, 2022), The Disability Bioethics Reader (Routledge, 2022), The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability and the Good Life (Oxford University Press, 2023) The Meaning of Disability (Oxford University Press, 2024), and Philosophy of Disability: An Introduction (Polity, 2024). In 2020, he co-edited a special issue of The Hastings Center Report entitled, “For All of Us? On the Weight of Genomic Knowledge.” Dr. Reynolds regularly speaks with medical students and practitioners across specialties concerning how to improve the quality and equity of care for patients with disabilities, including recent talks at the schools of medicine at Yale, Harvard, and UCLA based on his AMA Journal of Ethics piece, “Three Things Clinicians Should Know About Disability.”
Author or co-author of over three dozen journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, Dr. Reynolds’ current research includes a number of article-length studies as well as pieces for Philosophical Foundations of Disability Law, The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology, The Encyclopedia of Phenomenology, The Routledge Handbook of Non-Ideal Theory, The Oxford Handbook of Genetic Counseling, and The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Existentialism. Recent authored or co-authored articles of his appear in Episteme, Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, Journal of Medical Ethics, The Hastings Center Report, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, Critical Philosophy of Race, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, The American Journal of Bioethics, Foucault Studies, Levinas Studies, and Chiasmi International: Trilingual Studies Concerning the Thought of Merleau-Ponty.
His public scholarship includes pieces in TIME, AEON, The Conversation, Health Progress, and a Tedx talk. Currently, he is the co-director with Erik Parens of a 2-year NEH Public Humanities grant project, The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability and Technology, founder and chair of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy’s Committee on Accessibility, Disability, and Inclusion, and chair of the Access Committee for The Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory. In fall 2022, he will direct the 46th annual meeting of The International Merleau-Ponty Circle at Georgetown University on the theme, “Fits and Misfits: Rethinking Disability, Debility, and the World with Merleau-Ponty.”
Dr. Reynolds’ work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is an honorary fellow of the McLaughlin College of Public Policy at York University and sits on the board of the Society for Philosophy and Disability. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy as well as in Religious Studies from the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Emory University. He previously held the inaugural Rice Family Postdoctoral Fellowship in Bioethics and the Humanities at The Hastings Center from 2017-2020 and the inaugural Laney Disability Studies Fellowship at Emory University from 2014-15. You can reach Dr. Reynolds (he/they) by email at joel [dot] reynolds [at] georgetown [dot] edu.