Rebecca Kukla, PhD

Senior Research Scholar,
Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Kukla is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.Dr. Kukla's research interests within practical ethics include reproductive ethics and the culture of pregnancy and motherhood, public health ethics, the ethics of health communication, research ethics, methodological issues in medical research, and the social epistemology of medicine. Much of her research bridges bioethics, epistemology, and philosophy of language. Of late, she has particularly been interested in ethical and epistemological issues surrounding risk reasoning and communication. She explores these issues at all levels of medical practice, from trial design and the interpretation of scientific results, to evidence-based medicine guidelines, to physician-patient communication, to health promotion campaigns and media representations of risk, to laypeople's judgments and discussions about risk.Rebecca is the Editor-in-Chief of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal and Public Affairs Quarterly. She is also the former co-coordinator of the Feminist Approaches to Bioethics Network. She is the author or editor of several books and numerous articles, and has been an invited speaker at approximately 100 universities.She received her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1996. From 2003-2005, she was a Greenwall Fellow in Bioethics and Health Policy at The Johns Hopkins University. In the summer of 2004, she was a Visiting Scholar at the USDA, studying ethical issues concerning food and nutrition assistance programs. She also received her Sommelier certification from Algonquin College in 2007.

Did you know?

Dr. Kukla is well-known not just for her work in bioethics, but also for an equally-impressive collection of work in analytic epistemology and philosophy of language. Philosophers interested in the way that these areas overlap and inform each other in her work have interviewed her in a variety of venues. Check out one of her most recent interviews below, and explore our archives for more.

Read the 3AM interview »



  • R. Kukla and M. Lance, ‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’: The Pragmatic Topography of the Space of Reasons. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2009).
  • R. Kukla, Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture and Mothers’ Bodies. (Lanham, MD:Rowman and Littlefield 2005).


  • J. Arras, R. Kukla, and E. Fenton , ed. A Routledge Companion to Bioethics. : Routledge, 2012.
  • R. Kukla, ed. Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant’s Critical Philosophy . : Cambridge University Press, 2006.


  • R. Kukla & E. Kukla-Manning. “Whose Job is it to Fight Climate Change? A Response to Hickey, Rieder, and Earl,” forthcoming in Social Theory and Practice.
  • R. Kukla & E. Kukla-Manning. “Moving In and Out of Virtual Space,” forthcoming in Circles.
  • R. Kukla. “Infertility, Epistemic Risk, and Disease Definitions,” forthcoming in Synthese.
  • R. Kukla. “Delimiting the Proper Scope of Epistemology,” Philosophical Perspectives (2016): 202-216.
  • R. Kukla & S. Hardy. “Making Sense of Miscarriage Online,” Journal of Social Philosophy special issue on miscarriage, ed. K. Norlock,, (2015): 46:1, 106-25.
  • S. Richardson, C. Daniels, M. Gillman, J. Golden, R. Kukla, C. Kuzawa, and J. Rich-Edwards. “Developmental Biology: Don’t Blame the Mothers,” Nature, (2014): 512:7513.
  • R. Kukla & M. Lance. “Intersubjectivity and Receptive Experience,” Southern Journal of Philosophy, (2014): 52:1, 22-42.
  • E. Winsberg, B. Huebner, & R. Kukla. “Accountability and Values in Radically Collaborative Research,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science Part A, (2014): 46, 16-23.
  • R. Kukla. “Living with Pirates: Common Morality and Embodied Practice,” Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics, (2014): 23:1, 76-86.
  • M. Lance & R. Kukla. “’Leave the Gun; Take the Cannoli!’: The Pragmatic Topography of Second-Person Calls,” Philosophy of Science, (2012): 123:3, 2013, 456-78.
  • R. Kukla. “'Author TBD': Radical Collaboration in Contemporary Biomedical Research,” Philosophy of Science, (2012): 79:5, 845-858.
  • R. Kukla. “Performative Force, Convention, and Discursive Injustice,” Hypatia  (2012): 27:3, 1-17.
  • R. Kukla. "The Ethics and Cultural Politics of Reproductive Health Warnings: A Case Study of Proposition 65." Health, Risk and Society 12.4 (2010): 323-334.
  • R. Kukla et al. "Risk and the Pregnant Body." Hastings Center Report 39.6 (2009): 34-42.
  • R. Kukla et al. "Finding Autonomy in Birth." Bioethics 23.1 (2009): 1-8.
  • R. Kukla et al. "Mode of Delivery: Toward Responsible Inclusion of Patient Preferences." Obstetrics and Gynecology 112.4 (2008): 913-18.
  • R. Kukla. "Measuring Mothering." International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 1.1 (2008): 67-90.
  • R. Kukla. "Resituating the Principle of Equipoise: Justice and Access to Care in Non-Ideal Conditions." Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal17.3 (2007): 171-202.
  • R. Kukla. "Holding the Body of Another." Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy 11.2 (2007): 171-202.
  • R. Kukla. "Objectivity and Perspective in Empirical Knowledge." Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 3.1 (2006): 80-95.
  • R. Kukla. "Ethics and Ideology in Breastfeeding Advocacy Campaigns." Hypatia 21.1 (2006): 157-80.
  • R. Kukla. "Conscientious Autonomy: Displacing Decisions in Health C." Hastings Center Report 35.2 (2005): 34-44.
  • R. Kukla. "The Limits of Lines: Negotiating Hard Medical Choices." Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine 5.1 (2005): 15-19.
  • R. Kukla. "The Antinomies of Impure Reason: Rousseau and Kant on the Metaphysics of Truth-Telling." Inquiry 48.3 (2005): 203-31.
  • R. Kukla. "How do Patients Know?." Hastings Center Report 37.5 (2005): 27-35.
  • R. Kukla et al. "Risk, Values, and Decision Making Surrounding Pregnancy." Obstetrics and Gynecology 109.4 (2004): 979-984.
  • R. Kukla. "Attention and Blindness: Objectivity and Contingency in Moral Perception." Canadian Journal of Philosophy (sup. 28) (2003): 319-46.
  • R. Kukla and L. Ruetsche. "Contingent Natures and Virtuous Knowers: Could Epistemology be ‘Gendered’?." Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32.2 (2002): 389-418.
  • R. Kukla. "The Ontology and Temporality of Conscience." Continental Philosophy Review 35 (2002): 1-34.
  • R. Kukla. "Talking Back: Monstrosity, Mundanity and Cynicism in Television Talk Shows." Rethinking Marxism 14.1 (2002): 67-96.
  • R. Kukla. "Myth, Memory and Misrecognition in Sellars’ ‘Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind’." Philosophical Studies 101 (2000): 161-211.
  • R. Kukla. "How to Get an Interpretivist Committed." Protosociology 14 (2000): 77-117.
  • S. Hardy and R. Kukla. "A Paramount Narrative: Exploring Space on the Starship Enterprise." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57.2 (1999): 177-91.
  • R. Kukla. "Reading Literature After Hegel." Journal of Speculative Philosophy 12.4 (1998): 243-54.
  • R. Kukla. "Making and Masking Human Nature: Rousseau’s Aesthetics of Education." Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology29.3 (1998).
  • R. Kukla. "Decentering Women." Metaphilosophy 27.1-2 (1996): 28-52.
  • R. Kukla. "The Coupling of Human Souls: Rousseau and the Problem of Gender Relations." Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of Science and the Humanities 46 (1996): 57-91.
  • R. Kukla. "Causation as a Natural and as a Philosophical Relation." Eidos 10 (1992): 161-78.
  • R. Kukla. "Cognitive Models and Representation." British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (1992): 219-32.
  • A. Kukla and R. Kukla. "Meaning Holism and Intentional Psychology." Analysis 49 (1989): 173-5.


  • “Situated Knowers,” forthcoming in a volume on social epistemology, ed. J. Lackey.
  • “Moving through Urban Space: Micro­negotiation and the Constitution of Embodied Selves,” forthcoming in a volume tentatively entitled Philosophy of the City, ed. S. Epting.
  • J. Biddle and R. Kukla, “The Geography of Epistemic Risk,” forthcoming Exploring Inductive Risk, ed. K. Elliott and T. Richards, Oxford University Press 2017.
  • R. Kukla, “Embodied Stances: Realism Without Literalism,” forthcoming in a festschrift for Daniel Dennett, ed. B. Huebner, Oxford University Press 2016.
  • B. Huebner, R. Kukla, and E. Winsberg, “Making Authors,” forthcoming in Scientific Collaboration and Collective Knowledge, eds. T. Boyer, C. Mayo-Wilson, and M. Weisberg, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • R. Kukla, “Failed Medicalization and the Cultural Iconography of Feminine Sexuality,” in Philosophy of Love and Sex, ed. S. LaChance Adams, forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield, 2017.
  • R. Kukla, “Shame, Seduction, and Character in Food Messaging,” forthcoming in the Oxford Companion to Food Ethics, eds. A. Barnhill, A. Egan, T. Dogget, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
  • R. Kukla, “Equipoise and the Ethical Management of Uncertainty,” forthcoming in Missed Trials: Clinical Research Involving Pregnant Women, eds. F. Baylis and A. Ballantyne, Springer 2016.
  • R. Kukla, “Ostension and Assertion,” forthcoming in a festschrift for John Haugeland, ed. Z. Adams, MIT Press 2016.
  • R. Kukla and E. Winsberg, “Deflationism, Pragmatism, and Truth,” in Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism, eds. S. Gross, N. Tebben, and M. Williams, and N. Tebben, Oxford University Press 2015, 27-46.
  • R. Kukla and M. Lance, “Speaking and Thinking,” in Sellars and His Legacy, ed. J. O’Shea, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • R. Kukla, “Medicalization, ‘Normal Function’, and the Definition of Health,” in the Routledge Companion to Bioethics, eds. Arras, Fenton, and Kukla, Routledge 2015, 513-30.
  • M. Lance and R. Kukla. "Perception, Language, and the First Person." Reading Brandom. Ed. B. Weiss and J. Wanderer. Routledge, 2010.
  • D. Weiss and R. Kukla. "The ‘Natural Look’: Extreme Makeovers and the Limits of Human Self-Fashioning." Feminist Perspectives on Cosmetic Surgery. Ed. Cressida Heyes and Meredith Jones. Ashgate Press , 2009.
  • R. Kukla. "The Phrenological Impulse and the Morphology of Character." Agency and Embodiment. Ed. Susan Sherwin, Susan Campbell, and Letitia Meynell. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009: 76-99
  • R. Kukla. "Placing the Aesthetic in Kant’s Critical Epistemology." Aesthetics and Cognition in Kant’s Critical Philosophy. Ed. R. Kukla. Cambridge University Press, 2006: 1-31
  • R. Kukla. "Pregnant Bodies as Public Spaces." Motherhood and Space: Configurations of the Maternal through Politics, Home, and the Body. Ed. C. Wiedmer and S. Hardy. Palgrave MacMillan, 2006: 283-305
  • R. Kukla. "Coupling of Human Souls: Rousseau and the Problem of Gender Relations." Feminist Rereadings of Rousseau. Ed. L. Lange. Pennsylvania State University Press (REPRINT), 2002.
  • R. Kukla. "Performing Nature in the Letter to M. d’Alembert." Rousseau on Arts and Politics: Autour de la Lettre d’Alembert. Ed. M. Butler. Ottawa: Pensées Libres, 1998: 67-77


  • R. Kukla. "Review of Krista Lawlor, Assurance, in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews." 2014
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Helen Longino, Studying Human Behavior, in Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal." 2014
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Naomi Scheman, Shifting Ground: Knowledge and Reality, Transgression and Trustworthiness, in American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy,." 12:2, 2013, 28-30.
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Paul Redding, Analytic Philosophy and the Return of Hegelian Thought." Journal of the History of Philosophy 48.1 (2010).
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Neil Manson and Onora O’Neill, Rethinking Informed Consent in Bioethics.Hastings Center Report 39.3 (2009): 45-7.
  • R. Kukla. "Naturalizing Objectivity: Critical Review of Daston and Galison, Objectivity, and Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway."Perspectives on Science 16.3 (2008): 285-302.
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Joan Rothschild’s Dream of the Perfect Child." Hypatia 22.3 (2007): 199-203.
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Slavoj Zizek’s Interrogating the Real." Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2006).
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Joseph Rouse’s How Scientific Practices Matter: Reclaiming Philosophical Naturalism." Philosophy of Science 71.2 (2004): 216-19.
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Elizabeth Rose Wingrove’s Rousseau’s Republican Romance." Hypatia 17.2 (2002): 174-183.
  • R. Kukla. "Review of Michael Davis’ The Autobiography of Philosophy: Rousseau’s Reveries of the Solitary Walker." Philosophy in Review 29.6 (2001): 398-401.


  • R. Kukla & S. Richardson. "Eric Garner and the Value of Black Obese Bodies." The Huffington Post, December 17, 2014. [link]
  • R. Kukla, ed. Hypatia: Special Issue on Maternal Bodies. Winter, 2006.