Maggie Little, BPhil, PhD

Director, Senior Research Scholar,
Professor of Philosophy

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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Publications

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.

Peer-Reviewed Articles & Chapters

  • Lance, M. and M. Little, “Defending Moral Particularism” in Contemporary Debates in Moral Theory, ed. James Dreier (Blackwell Press), 2006, pp. 305-321
  • Lance, M. and M. Little, “From Particularism to Defeasibility,” in Challenging Moral Particularism, eds. Mark Lance, Matjaz Potrc, Vojko Strahovnik, Routledge, 2007, pp. 53-74
  • Lance, M. and M. Little, “Where The Laws Are,” Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol II, ed. Russ Shafer-Landau, Oxford University Press. 2007, pp. 149 - 171
  • 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, 2007 April: 109(4); 979-984
  • Reprinted in Health Care Ethics in Canada, eds. Francoise Baylis, Barry Hoffmaster, Susan Sherwin, Kirstin Borgeston (Cengage Learning), 3rd edition, 2011 
  • 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, Fall 2008, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 5-22
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden, “Pregnancy and Research,” Hastings Center Report, Vol. 38, No. 6, Nov-Dec 2008, inside back cover
  • Carse, A. and M. Little, “Exploitation & the Enterprise of Medical Research,” in Exploitation & Developing Countries: The Ethics of Clinical Research, eds. Ezekiel Emanuel and Jennifer Hawkins, Princeton University Press, 2008, pp. 206-245 
  • 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, 2008 October; 112(4): 913-918 
  • Brown, S., A. Lyerly, M. Little, J. Lantos, “Paediatrics-Based Fetal Care:  Unanswered Ethical Questions,” Acta Paediatrica, 2008 December; 97 (12): 1617-1619
  • Reprinted in Potentiality: Metaphysical & Bioethical Dimensions, ed. John P. Lizza, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014 
  • “Abortion & the Margins of Personhood,” Rutgers Law Journal, Vol. 39, 2008, pp. 331- 348
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden, “A Critique of ‘The Fetus as Patient’,” American Journal of Bioethics, Volume 8, Number 7, July 2008, pp. 42-44 
  • Halpern, J and M. Little, “Motivating Health: Empathy & the Normative Activity of Coping,” in Naturalized Bioethics, eds. Hilde Lindemann, Margaret Walker, & Marian Verkerk, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 141-162 
  • Kukla, R., M. Kuppermann, M. Little, A. Lyerly, L. Mitchell, E. Armstrong, L. Harris (The Ob-Gyn Risk Research Group), “Finding Autonomy in Birth,” Bioethics, January 2009 (23:1), pp. 1-8
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, R. Faden, “The National Children’s Study: A Golden Opportunity to Address the Health Needs of Pregnant Women,” American Journal of Public Health, 2009 October; 99(10): 1742–1745 
  • Lyerly, A., L. Mitchell, E. Armstrong, L. Harris, R. Kukla, M. Kuppermann, M. Little (The Ob-Gyn Risk Research Group), “Risk and the Pregnant Body,” Hastings Center Report, Vol. 39, no. 6, Nov-Dec 2009, pp. 34-42 
  • Reprinted in: Emanuel EJ, Crouch RA, Arras JD, Grady C, Moreno JD (editors) Ethical and regulatory aspects of clinical research: readings and commentary. 2nd edition. Baltimore (MD), Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Little, M., A. Lyerly, R. Faden, “Pregnant Women and Medical Research: A Moral Imperative,” Bioethica Forum, 2009, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 60-65.   
  • Lance, M. and M. Little, “Review of Marc Lange’s Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of NatureEthics 120, no. 2 (January 2010): 431-437. 
  • 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. 
  • 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 
  • 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
  • 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
  • “In Defence of 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
  • “Brandt’s ‘Moral Valuation,’” Ethics, Vol. 125, No. 3 (April 2015), pp. 811-814
  • Krubiner, C. R. Faden, J. Cadigan, S. Gilbert, L. Henry, M. Little, A. Mastroianni, E. Namey, K. Sullivan, A. Lyerly, Advancing HIV Research with Pregnant Women: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities, AIDS, online prepublication August 6, 2016
  • Little, M., A. Lyerly, A. Mastroianni, R. Faden, “Ethics and Research with Pregnant Women: Lessons from HIV/AIDS,” In Clinical Research Involving Pregnant Women, Editors: Baylis, Françoise, Ballantyne, Angela, Springer Books, forthcoming
  • Little, W. Moczynski, P. Richardson, S. Joffe, “Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Ethics Rounds: Life-threatening Illness and the Desire to Adopt,” The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Volume 15, Number 4, December 2005, pp. 385-393
  • Lance, M. and M. Little, “Particularism and Anti-Theory,” The Oxford Handbook of Ethics (Oxford University Press), ed. David Copp, 2005, pp. 567-594
  • “The Moral Permissibility of Abortion,” in Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, ed. Andrew I. Cohen & Christopher Wellman (Blackwell Press), 2005, pp. 27-40, and 2nd edition, 2014, pp. 51-62
  • Reprinted in Ethics in Practice, ed. Hugh LaFollette (Blackwell Press), 2006
  • “Abortion & Sexuality,” in Sex from Plato to Paglia: A Philosophical Encyclopedia, ed. Alan Soble (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press), 2005, pp. 1-7
  • Lance, M. and M. Little, “Defeasibility and the Normative Grasp of Context,” Erkenntnis, 61(2-3): 435-455, 2004
  • “The Morality of Abortion,” in A Companion to Applied Ethics (Blackwell Press), eds. Christopher Wellman and Ray Frey, 1st edition, 2003, pp. 313-325; 2nd edition, 2013
  • Reprinted in Ethical Issues in Modern Medicine, eds. Bonnie Steinbock, Alex John London, John Arras (Mayfield Publishing), 6th edition (2008), 7th edition (2011), 8th edition (2012)
  • Reprinted in Taking Sides: Bioethics Issues, ed. Carol Levine (McGraw-Hill), 11th edition (2006); 12th edition (2007); 13th edition (2009), 14th edition (2001); ed. Greg Kaebnick, 15th edition (2013)
  • Edited version reprinted in Biomedical Ethics, 6th edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006); eds. Thomas A. Mappes and David DeGrazia; 7th edition (2011), eds. David DeGrazia, Thomas A. Mappes, Jeffrey Brand-Ballar
  • “On Knowing the ‘Why’: Particularism and Moral Theory,” The Hastings Center Report, 31(4), July/August 2001, pp. 32-40
  • Reprinted in Ethical Theory: An Anthology, ed. Russ Shafer-Landau (Wiley-Blackwell), 1st ed, (2007), pp. 776-784; 2nd ed. (2013), pp. 776-784
  • “Wittgensteinian Lessons on Particularism,” in Slow Cures and Bad Philosophers: Essays on Wittgenstein, Medicine, and Bioethics, ed. Carl Elliot, (Duke University Press), 2001, p. 161-180
  • “Moral Generalities Revisited,” in Moral Particularism, eds. Brad Hooker and Margaret Little, (Clarendon Press, Oxford), 2000, pp. 276-304
  • “Abortion, Intimacy, and the Duty to Gestate,” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 2, 1999, pp. 295-312 
  • “Cosmetic Surgery, Suspect Norms, and Complicity,” in Enhancing Human Capacities: Conceptual Complexities and Ethical Implications, ed. Eric Parens (Georgetown University Press), 1998, pp. 162-176
  • Reprinted in Enhancement: Die ethische Debatte (Broschiert), ed. Bettina Schone-Seifert and Davinia Talbot, 2009
  • Reprinted in Biomedical Ethics, eds. David DeGrazia, Thomas A. Mappes, Jeffrey Brand-Ballard, (McGraw-Hill), 7th edition, 2011
  • Review, Laura Purdy’s Reproducing Bioethics: Issues in Feminist Bioethics, for Women and Health, vol. 29, no. 4, 1999, pp. 109-112
  • “Care: From Theory to Orientation and Back,” in Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, vol. 23, no. 2, April 1998, pp. 190-209
  • “Virtue as Knowledge: Objections from the Philosophy of Mind,” Nous, vol. 31, no. 1, 1997, pp. 59-79
  • Reprinted in: Foundations of Ethics, eds. Russ Shafer-Landau & Terence Cuneo (Blackwells), 2006, pp. 252-264 
  • “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, in Medical Humanities Review, Spring 1997 
  • “Suspect Norms of Appearance and the Ethics of Complicity,” in In the Eye of the Beholder: Ethics and Medical Change of Appearance, eds. Inez de Beaufort, Medard Hilhorst, Soren Holm (Scandinavian University Press), 1996, pp. 151-167 
  • “Procreative Liberty, Biological Connections, and Motherhood,” Journal of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, vol. 6, no. 4, Dec. 1996, pp. 392-396 
  • “Why A Feminist Bioethics?” Journal of The Kennedy Institute of Ethics, vol. 6, no 1, March 1996, pp. 1-18
  • Reprinted in Meaning and Medicine, eds. James Lindemann Nelson and Hilde Lindemann Nelson (Routledge), 1999
  • Reprinted in Health Care Ethics in Canada, 2nd Edition, Baylis, Downie, Sherwin and Hoffmaster, 2004; 3rd edition, 2011
  • Review, R. Jay Wallace’s Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments, in Philosophical Quarterly, 45(5): October 1996, pp. 541-544
  • “Seeing and Caring: The Role of Affect in Feminist Moral Epistemology,” Hypatia, vol. 10, no. 3, Summer 1995, pp. 117-137
  • Reprinted in: Foundations of Ethics, eds. Russ Shafer-Landau & Terence Cuneo (Blackwells), 2006, pp 421-433
  • “Perspectives on Surrogate Motherhood,” review of books by John Robertson, Christine Overall, Ruth Macklin, and Helena Ragone, Medical Humanities Review, Fall 1995
  • “Recent Work in Moral Realism: Naturalism,” Philosophical Books, vol. 35, no. 3, July 1994, pp. 145-153
  • “Recent Work in Moral Realism: Non-Naturalism,” Philosophical Books, vol. 35, no. 4, Oct. 1994, pp. 225-233

Non-Peer Reviewed Publications

  • with 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:
  • http://peasoup.typepad.com/peasoup/2014/02/margaret-olivia-little-and-jake-earl-does-a-human-baby-have-more-moral-status-than-a-cat-if-they-have-similar-occurre.html
  • Lead author, American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Comm. No. 578,
  • Elective Surgery & Patient Choice, 2013
  • with Ann Pendleton-Jullian, “Design & Ethics,” op-ed, The Hoya, Feb. 2013
  • “Conscience and Health Care,” op-ed, The Hoya, Jan. 2013
  • Lyerly, A., M. Little, F. Faden, “Pregnancy Is No Time to Refuse a Flu Shot,” op-ed, The New York Times, Sept., 29, 2009, pp D6
  • Faden, R., A. Lyerly, M. Little, “A Custom Drug,” The New York Times, May 10, 2009, op-ed, 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
  • with Alisa Carse, “Threats & Offers” and “Pornography,” Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich

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