Maggie Little, BPhil, PhD

Director, Senior Research Scholar

Dr. Little is Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown. Her research interests include issues in reproduction, clinical research ethics, and the structure of moral theory. A Rhodes Scholar and fellow of the Hastings Center, she has twice served as Visiting Scholar in residence at the National Institutes of Health Department of Bioethics, and was appointed to the Ethics Committee of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a founding member of The Ob-Gyn Risk Research Group, which brings together experts from medical epidemiology, obstetrics and gynecology, philosophy, bioethics, gender theory, and the medical humanities, for research encompassing a wide variety of issues in reproductive health and clinical research ethics. Together with Ruth Faden and Anne Lyerly, she co-founded The Second Wave Initiative, which works to promote responsible research into the health needs of pregnant women. As director, Dr. Little has overseen a time of transformative development at the KIE, including the launch of the world's first Introduction to Bioethics MOOC in April 2014; the inauguration of Conversations in Bioethics, an annual campus-wide event focused on a critical issue in bioethics; the deployment of a series of experimental undergraduate courses utilizing project-based learning and design studio methods; and the founding of EthicsLab, a social innovation lab at Georgetown whose team-based approach unites people on the front lines of complex moral issues with expert bioethicists and strategic designers make tangible progress on real-world bioethics problems.

Did you know?

Dr. Little was recently featured in a piece on the Georgetown College website about the KIE's Introduction to Bioethics MOOC. “In virtue of being embodied creatures, and the specific kind of biological creatures we are, we face particular kinds of moral challenges: we are vulnerable to disease, we give birth, we die,” she explained. “All of these facets of the embodied human experience generate ethical questions, and the attempt to grapple with these questions is what we call bioethics.”

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Edited Books

  • Margaret Little, Brad Hooker, and David Bakhurst. Thinking About Reasons: Essays in Honor of Jonathan Dancy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Margaret Little, Brad Hooker. Moral Particularism. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000.

Articles in Journals

  • Little, M. and A. Lyerly, “The Limits of Conscientious Refusal: A Duty to Ensure Access,” Virtual Mentor, March 2013, Volume 15, Number 3, pp. 257-262.
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden, “Reframing the Framework: Toward Fair Inclusion of Pregnant Women as Participants in Research,” The American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 11, Issue 5, 2011, pp. 50-52, DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2011.560353.
  • Little, M., A. Lyerly, R. Faden, “Moving Forward With Research Involving Pregnant Women: A Critical Role for Wisdom From the Field,” AJOB Primary Research, Vol. 2, Issue 1, 2011, pp. 15-17, DOI: 10.1080/21507716.2011.562476
  • Lyerly, A. and M. Little, “Toward an Ethically Responsible Approach to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean,” Seminars in Perinatology 34, no. 5 (October 2010): 337-344.
  • Lance, M. and M. Little. "Review of Marc Lange’s ’Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature’." Ethics 120.2 (2010): 431-437.
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden. "Pregnancy and Research." Hastings Center Report (2009).
  • Kukla, R., M. Kuppermann, M. Little, A. Lyerly, L. Mitchell, E. Armstrong, L. Harris . "Finding Autonomy in Birth." Bioethics (2009).
  • Margaret Little. "Abortion & the Margins of Personhood." Rutgers Law Journal 39 (2008): 331- 348.
  • Little, M., A. Lyerly, L. Mitchell, E. Armstrong, L. Harris, R. Kukla, M. Kuppermann (The Ob-Gyn Risk Research Group). "Mode of Delivery: Towards Responsible Inclusion of Patient Preferences." Obstetrics & Gynecology 112 (2008): 913-918.
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden. "The Second Wave: Toward Ethical Inclusion of Pregnant Women in Clinical Research." International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 1.2 (2008): 5-22.
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden. "A Critique of ‘The Fetus as Patient’." American Journal of Bioethics 8.7 (2008): 42-44.
  • Lyerly, A., L. Mitchell, E. Armstrong, L. Harris, R. Kukla, M. Kuppermann, M. Little (The Ob-Gyn Risk Research Group). "Risk, Value, & Decision-Making Around Pregnancy." Obstetrics & Gynecology 109 (2007): 979-984.
  • Margaret Little, Walter V. Moczynski, Paul G. Richardson, Steven Joffe. "“Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Ethics Rounds: Life-threatening Illness and the Desire to Adopt” ." The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal (2006).
  • Margaret Little, Mark Lance. "Defeasibility and the Normative Grasp of Context." Erkenntnis (2005).
  • Margaret Little. "Abortion, Intimacy, and the Duty to Gestate." Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (1999): 295-312.
  • Margaret Little. "Care: From Theory to Orientation and Back." Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 23.2 (1998): 190-209.
  • Margaret Little. "Virtue as Knowledge: Objections from the Philosophy of Mind." Noûs 31.1 (1997): 59-79.
  • Margaret Little. "Procreative Liberty, Biological Connections, and Motherhood." The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 6.4 (1996): 392-396.
  • Margaret Little. "Why A Feminist Bioethics." The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 6.1 (1996): 1-18.
  • Margaret Little. "Seeing and Caring: The Role of Affect in Feminist Moral Epistemology." Hypatia 10.3 (1995): 117-137.
  • Margaret Little. "Recent Work in Moral Realism: Naturalism." Philosophical Books 35.3 (1994): 145-153.
  • Margaret Little. "Recent Work in Moral Realism: Non-Naturalism." Philosophical Books 35.4 (1994): 225-233.

Articles in Books

  • “Non-Deontic Reasons,” in Thinking About Reasons: Essays Honoring Jonathan Dancy,”eds. David Bakhurst, Brad Hooker, and Margaret Little, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 112-136.
  • Margaret Little, and Jodi Halpern. "Motivating Health: Empathy & the Normative Activity of Coping." Naturalized Bioethics. Ed. Hilde Lindemann, Margaret Walker, & Marian Verkerk. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009: 141-162
  • Margaret Little, and Mark Lance. "Where The Laws Are." Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Ed. Russ Shafer-Landau. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007: 149 - 171
  • Margaret Little, and Mark Lance. "From Particularism to Defeasibility." Challenging Moral Particularism. Ed. Mark Lance, Matjaz Potrc, Vojko Strahovnik. New York: Routledge, 2007.
  • Alisa Carse, Margaret Little. "Exploitation & the Enterprise of Medical Research." Exploitation in Medical Research. Ed. Ezekiel Emanuel and Jennifer Hawkins. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • Margaret Little, Alisa Carse. "Threats & Offers." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Ted Honderich. 2005.
  • Margaret Little, Alisa Carse. "Pornography." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Ted Honderich. 2005.
  • Margaret Little, Mark Lance. "In Defense of Moral Particularism: Valence Switching, Explanation, & Moral Laws." Moral Theories. Ed. James Dwyer. New York: Blackwell Press, 2005.
  • Margaret Little. "The Moral Permissibility of Abortion." Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics. Ed. Christopher Wellman. New York: Blackwell Press, 2005.
  • Margaret Little. "Abortion & Sexuality." Sex from Plato to Paglia: A Philosophical Encyclopedia. Ed. Alan Soble. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2005.
  • Margaret Little, Mark Lance. "Particularism and Anti-Theory." Essays in Ethics. Ed. David Copp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Margaret Little. "The Morality of Abortion." A Companion to Applied Ethics. Ed. Christopher Wellman, Ray Frey. New York: Blackwell Press, 2003.
  • Margaret Little. "Why A Feminist Bioethics?" Health Care Ethics in Canada, 2nd Edition. Ed. Baylis, Downie, Sherwin and Hoffmaster. Toronto: Nelson, 2003.
  • Margaret Little. "Wittgensteinian Lessons on Particularism." Slow Cures and Bad Philosophers: Essays on Wittgenstein, Medicine, and Bioethics. Ed. Carl Elliot. Duke University Press, 2001.
  • Margaret Little. "Moral Generalities Revisited." Moral Particularism. Ed. Brad Hooker, Margaret Little. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000: 276-304
  • Margaret Little. "Why A Feminist Bioethics?." Meaning and Medicine. Ed. James Lindemann Nelson and Hilde Lindemann Nelson. Routledge, 1999.
  • Margaret Little. "Cosmetic Surgery, Suspect Norms, and Complicity." Enhancing Human Capacities: Conceptual Complexities and Ethical Implications. Ed. Eric Parens. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1998: 162-176
  • Margaret Little. "Suspect Norms of Appearance and the Ethics of Complicity." In the Eye of the Beholder: Ethics and Medical Change of Appearance. Ed. Inez de Beaufort, Medard Hilhorst, Soren Holm. Scandinavian University Press, 1996: 151-167

Book Reviews, Op-eds, and Other Publications

  • Margaret Little. “Brandt’s ‘Moral Valuation’: A Retrospective Essay,” Ethics, forthcoming
  • Margaret Little & Jake Earl, critical précis of Agnieszka Jaworska & Julie Tannenbaum's "Person-Rearing Relationships as a Key to Higher Moral Status," PEA Soup (blog), Feb. 20, 2014. [link]
  • Lead author, American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Comm. No. 578, Elective Surgery & Patient Choice, 2013
  • Margaret Little & Ann Pendleton-Jullian, “Design & Ethics,” op-ed, The Hoya, Feb. 2013
  • Margaret Little. “Conscience and Health Care,” op-ed, The Hoya, Jan. 2013
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden, “Pregnancy and Research,” Hastings Center Report, Vol. 38, No. 6, Nov-Dec 2008, inside back cover, DOI: 10.1353/hcr.0.0089
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, F. Faden, “Pregnancy Is No Time to Refuse a Flu Shot,” The New York Times, Sept., 29, 2009, pp D6
  • Lyerly, A., F. Faden, M. Little, “A Custom Drug,” The New York Times, May 2, 2009, pp WK10
  • Armstrong, E., Harris L., Kukla R., Kuppermann M., Little M., Lyerly A., Mitchell L. (The Obstetrics and Gynecology Risk Research Group), “Maternal Caffeine Consumption during Pregnancy and the Risk of Miscarriage,” letter to the editor, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2008, 199(5), e13
  • Margaret Little & Alisa Carse, “Threats & Offers” and “Pornography,” Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich
  • Margaret Little. “Abortion & Sexuality,” in Sex from Plato to Paglia: A Philosophical Encyclopedia, ed. Alan Soble (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press), 2005, pp. 1-7
  • Margaret Little. "Laura Purdy’s Reproducing Bioethics: Issues in Feminist Bioethics." Women and Health 29.4 (1999): 109-112.
  • Margaret Little. "Let Me Count the Ways: Feminism and Bioethics, review of Joan Callahan’s Reproduction, Ethics, and the Law, and Susan Wolf’s Feminism and Bioethics: Beyond Reproduction." Medical Humanities Review (1997).
  • Margaret Little. "R. Jay Wallace’s Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments." Philosophical Quarterly (1996).
  • Margaret Little. "Perspectives on Surrogate Motherhood, review of books by John Robertson, Christine Overall, Ruth Macklin, and Helena Ragone." Medical Humanities Review (1995).
  • "On Knowing the ‘Why’: Particularism and Moral Theory," The Hastings Center Report.

Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, 3700 O ST NW, WASHINGTON, DC, 20057, USA