Henry Richardson, JD, MPP, PhD

Senior Research Scholar,
Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Richardson is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.In the past decade, he has twice been a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health and has participated in two research-ethics training courses organized by that department: one in Kampala, Uganda, and one in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Since July, 2008, he has been the Editor of Ethics. In 2010, he was appointed by the Director General of UNESCO as a member of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), on which he served until 2013 (2011-13 as the rapporteur). He also served as president of the Human Development and Capability Association until 2016. He also leads the International Panel on Social Progress, a group designed to outline the basic principles and values on the basis of which social progress ought to be assessed.Some of his most recent work focuses on the following issue: When medical researchers discover a disease or medical condition in one of their research participants, care for which is no part of their research effort, what responsibility, if any, do they have to care for this disease or condition? For example, do malaria researchers have a responsibility to deal with the schistosomiasis they find in their subjects? Do HIV-vaccine researchers have an obligation to provide post-trial access to anti-retrovirals for those who become HIV-positive during the trial? This question of researchers’ ancillary-care responsibilities had been almost entirely neglected in the research-ethics literature, until in 2004, Dr. Richardson published (with Leah Belsky) two pioneering articles on the topic, arguing that the informed-consent process effectively entrusts certain aspects of the participants’ health into the researchers’ care.In 2006, with support from the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, he organized a symposium on ancillary-care obligations in developing countries, which led to further work on the topic. In 2012, he published a book on the topic: Moral Entanglements: The Ancillary-Care Obligations of Medical Researchers (Oxford University Press), which refines and defends the philosophical basis of what he calls the "partial-entrustment" model of ancillary-care obligations.Dr. Richardson earned graduate degrees in law and public policy at Harvard before getting his PhD there (under John Rawls) in 1986.

Image credit: Martha Stewart.

Did you know?

Dr. Richardson's work as Rapporteur of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (UNESCO) has focused a great deal on environmental issues. In a 2012 interview, Dr. Richardson reflects on our moral responsibilities toward future generations: "Climate change poses ethical problems because it threatens the enjoyment of basic human rights at a vast scale … we must act to protect cultural and biological diversity; we must not irreversibly damage the common heritage of mankind."

Read the whole interview »



  • Henry Richardson. Articulating the Moral Community: Toward a Constructive Ethical Pragmatism. Forthcoming; under contract with Oxford University Press.
  • Henry Richardson. Moral Entanglements: The Ancillary-Care Obligations of Medical Researchers. London: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Henry Richardson. Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy. London: Oxford University Press, 2003.


  • NOMOS XLIX: Moral Universalism and Pluralism, Henry Richardson & Melissa Williams, eds. NYU Press, 2008.
  • The Philosophy of Rawls, Henry Richardson & Paul J. Weithman, 5 vols. Garland Press, 1999.
  • Practical Reasoning about Final Ends, Henry Richardson et al., eds. Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Liberalism and the Good, Henry Richardson et al., eds. Routledge, 1990.

Articles in Journals

  • “Intelligence and Transparency in Health Technology Assessment,” forthcoming in International Journal of Health Technology Assessment.
  • "Capabilities and the Definition of Health: Comments on Venkatapuram," Bioethics 30(1) (2016): 1-7.
  • Henry Richardson. “Moral Entanglements: Ad Hoc Intimacies and Ancillary Duties of Care,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2012): 376-409.
  • Henry Richardson. “Relying on Experts As We Reason Together,” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 22 (2012): 91-110.
  • Henry Richardson. “Estlund’s Promising Account of Democratic Authority,” Ethics 121 (2011): 301-34.
  • Henry Richardson. "Interpreting Rawls: An Essay on Audard, Freeman, and Pogge," The Journal of Ethics 15 (2011): 227-51.
  • Henry Richardson. “Public Health Doctors’ Ancillary-Care Obligations,” Public Health Ethics 3 (2010): 63-67; doi: 10.1093/phe/php025.
  • Henry Richardson. “Liberalism, Deliberative Democracy, and ‘Reasons that All Can Accept,’” with James F. Bohman, Journal of Political Philosophy 17 (2009): 253-74.
  • Henry Richardson. “Our Call: The Constitutive Importance of the People’s Judgment,” Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (2008): 3-29.
  • Henry Richardson et al. “The Ancillary-Care Obligations of Medical Researchers Working in Developing Countries,” PLoS Medicine 5(5) (2008): e90 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050090 (with 14 co-authors)
  • Henry Richardson. “Gradations of Ancillary-Care Responsibility for HIV-AIDS in Developing Countries,” American Journal of Public Health 97 (2007): 1956-61.
  • Henry Richardson. "Disabilities, Capabilities, and Rawlsian Social Contract Theory." The Journal of Ethics (2006).
  • Henry Richardson. "Republicanism and Democratic Injustice." Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (2006).
  • Henry Richardson. "The Stupidity of the Cost-Benefit Standard." The Journal of Legal Studies 29 (2000): 971-1003.
  • Henry Richardson. "Some Limitations of Nussbaum’s Capacities." Quinnipiac Law Review 19 (2000): 309-332.
  • Henry Richardson. "Institutionally Divided Moral Responsibility." Social Philosophy and Policy 16 (1999): 218-249.
  • Henry Richardson. "Truth and Ends in Dewey." The Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24 (1998): 109-147.
  • Henry Richardson. "Nussbaum: Love and Respect." Metaphilosophy 29 (1998): 254-262.

Articles in Books

  • “Democratic Autonomy and Democratic Authority,” in Robin Celikates, Regine Kreide, and Tilo Wesche, eds., Transformations of Democracy: Crisis, Protest, and Legitimation (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015): 235-56.
  • “Revising Moral Norms: Pragmatism and the Problem of Perspicuous Description,” in Carla Bagnoli, ed., Constructivism (Cambridge University Press, 2013): 221-42.
  • “Mapping out Improvements in Justice: Comparing vs. Aiming,” in Rutgers University Law Journal 43 (2012): 211-41.
  • “Secondary Researchers’ Duties to Return Incidental Findings and Individual Research Results: A Partial-Entrustment Account,” with Mildred K. Cho, Genetics in Medicine 14 (2012): 467-72, doi:10.1038/gim.2012.12.
  • “On the Sites of Remedial Justice: Colleges, Clinics, and the State,” in Martha C. Nussbaum and Zoya Hasan, eds., Equalizing Access: Affirmative Action in Higher Education in India, United States, and South Africa (Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2012): 21-43.
  • “Public Opinion, Happiness, and the Will of the People: Policy-making in a Democracy,” in Beyond the Ballot Box (Thimphu, Bhutan: Centre for Bhutan Studies, 2010): 25-59.
  • “Incidental Findings and Ancillary-Care Obligations,” Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 36 (2008): 256-70.
  • “Discerning Subordination and Inviolability: A Comment on Kamm’s Intricate Ethics,” Utilitas 20 (2008): 81-91.
  • “The Social Background of Capabilities for Freedoms,” Journal of Human Development 8 (2007):389-414.
  • Henry Richardson. "Public Opinion and Popular Will." Deliberative Democracy: Theory and Practice. Ed. D. Kahane et al.. : forthcoming, 2006.
  • Henry Richardson. "Incommensurability and Basic Goods: A Tension in the New Natural Law Theory." Human Values. Ed. David S. Oderberg and Timothy Chappell . Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004: 70-101
  • Henry Richardson. "Thinking about Conflicts of Desire." Practical Conflicts: New Philosophical Essays. Ed. Peter Baumann and Monika Betzler. Cambridge University Press, 2004: 92-117
  • Henry Richardson. "Satisficing: Not Good Enough." Satisficing and Maximizing: Moral Theorists on Practical Reason. Ed. Michael Byron. : Cambridge University Press, 2004: 106-130
  • Henry Richardson. "Em Defesa de uma Democracia Qualificada." Dereito e Legitimidade. Ed. Jean-Christophe Merle and Luiz Moreira. Sao Paolo: Landy Editora, 2003: 174-194
  • Henry Richardson. "The Stupidity of the Cost-Benefit Standard." Cost-Benefit Analysis: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives. Ed. M.D. Adler & E.A. Posner. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001: 135-167
  • Henry Richardson. "Commensurability." The Encyclopedia of Ethics. Ed. Lawrence C. Becker and Charlotte B. Becker. Routledge, 2001: 258-262
  • Henry Richardson. "Institutionally Divided Moral Responsibility." Responsibility. Ed. Ellen and Paul Frankel et al. Cambridge University Press, 1999: 218-249
  • Henry Richardson. "Administrative Policymaking: Rule of Law, or Bureaucracy?" Recrafting the Rule of Law: The Limits of Legal Order. Ed. David Dyzenhaus. Oxford: Hart Publishing, 1999: 309-330
  • Henry Richardson. "Democratic Intentions." Deliberative Democracy. Ed. J. Bohman and W. Rehg. Boston: MIT Press, 1997: 349-382
  • Henry Richardson. "Desire and Good in De Anima." Essays on Aristotle’s "De Anima". Ed. M. Nussbaum and A.O. Rorty. Oxford University Press, 1992: 381-399

Book Reviews

  • Henry Richardson. "Defending Associative Duties" forthcoming in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (online).
  • Henry Richardson. "Science in a Democratic Society" forthcoming in Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.
  • Henry Richardson. "The Right to Justification by Rainer Forst." Ethics & International Affairs (2012).
  • Henry Richardson. "Philosophical Essays by Alastair MacIntyre." Ethics 118 (2008).
  • Henry Richardson. "Reasons and the Good by Roger Crisp." Mind 117 (2008).
  • Henry Richardson. "Incommensurability and Commensuration by Fred d’Agostino." Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2006).
  • Henry Richardson. "Deliberative Democracy and Beyond by John S. Dryzek." Philosophical Quarterly (2006).
  • Henry Richardson. "Reasonably Vicious by Candace Vogler." The Journal of Philosophy 101 (2004): 211-215.
  • Henry Richardson. "Practical Rules by Alan H. Goldman." Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews online (2002).
  • Henry Richardson. "Towards Justice and Virtue by Onora O’Neill." Mind 108 (1999): 598-601.
  • Henry Richardson. "Practical Induction by Elijah Millgram." Ethics 109 (1999): 448-451.
  • Henry Richardson. "Democracy’s Place by Ian Shapiro." American Political Science Review (1997).
  • Henry Richardson. "Kantian Ethics Almost Without Apology by Marcia Baron." Ethics (1997): 746-749.
  • Henry Richardson. "Rational Choice and Moral Agency by David Schmidtz." International Journal of Philosophy 29 (1997): 140-141.
  • Henry Richardson. "Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity by Gilbert Harman and Judith Jarvis Thomson." Philosophical Books 38 (1997): 218-221.
  • Henry Richardson. "Ethics with Aristotle by Sarah Broadie." Mind 101 (1992): 358-361.
  • Henry Richardson. "Whose Justice? Which Rationality? by Alastair MacIntyre." American Political Science Review 83 (1989): 1366-1367.


  • Entry in the Handbuch der politischen Philosophie und Sozialphilosophie (Berlin: De Gruyter).
  • Entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Entry for the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2nd. ed..
  • Entry for the Companion to American Thought (Blackwell).