Close this search box.
Michele Moody-Adams (columbia UNIVERSITY)
Reclaiming the Idea of the ‘Human’

2023 | 2024


MONDAY, 10 june 2024

18.00 - 19.45


Michele Moody-Adams is Joseph L. Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory at Columbia University. She has published widely in moral and political philosophy.  She is the author, most recently, of Making Space for Justice: Social Movements, Collective Imagination, and Political Hope (2022) and a co-author of Against Happiness (2023).  Moody-Adams holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Wellesley College; a BA and MA from Oxford University in Philosophy, Politics and Economics; and a Philosophy from Harvard University where she completed her dissertation under the direction of John Rawls. She is a Lifetime Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Moody Adams
Abstract. Progressive social movements correctly presume that justice demands treating people with humane regard: combining respect for human agency with concern for human vulnerability to suffering.  Promoting humane regard is a critical means of acknowledging the moral claims of humanity.  Some critics reject the underlying concept of a universal humanity, in virtue of which human beings form a distinct community of reciprocal moral obligation. Critics charge that the concept presumes indefensible dualisms (of mind and body, and humanity and nature); that it wrongly assigns a privileged status to reason; and that it involves an unsupportable belief in human exceptionalism. I argue that we can assert the moral claims of humanity without privileging reason, repudiating nature, or denying that there are many valuable ways to be human. I also defend an account of human moral exceptionalism that does not imply human moral superiority, to show that we can meet morally weighty obligations to humans while affirming morally substantive connections to non-human communities and domains.

Meeting Address

Senate House, University of London, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU.

meeting time

The Society’s philosophy talks take place every fortnight on Mondays throughout the academic year. Each talk starts at 18.00 and lasts for approximately an hour. The remainder of the time is dedicated to discussion, which ends at 19.45.


All of the Society’s philosophy talks are catered with fairtrade teas, coffees, and biscuits.


In line with the Society’s mission to make philosophy readily available to the general public, all talks are free and membership is not required.

Draft Papers

Following over a century of tradition, draft papers for all the talks are available in advance. Please note that draft papers can only be cited with the authors permission (see below for final publication and subscription details). The draft paper for a talk is available approximately one week prior to its schedule delivery.

Final Papers

For the past 142 years, the Proceedings has featured widely respected papers delivered by a range of prominent philosophers, such as Alfred North Whitehead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer, P.F. Strawson, Karl Popper, Elizabeth Anscombe, Bernard Williams, Hubert Dreyfus, Alexander Nehamas, and Onora O’Neill. Final drafts of the papers – including discussion notes and exemplary graduate papers – are published in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.


The venue at Senate House is wheelchair accessible and there are disabled toilet facilities on the ground floor. If you require a disabled parking space, or a hearing loop, please contact in advance, so that we can reserve these for you. Service animals are also welcome.