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Headshot of John Basl

Associate Professor of Philosophy

John received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2011. His work focuses on issues in ethics, especially applied ethics, and in the philosophy of biology. In ethics, much of his work has focused on issues of moral status. Within environmental ethics, John has focused on the question of whether non-sentient organisms and collectives can be said to have interests and whether such interests are morally relevant. Within bioethics, his focus has been on whether and how the moral status of non-human research subjects might be altered. In addition to issues of moral status, he is also interested in the ethics of environmental restoration and the ethics of biotechnology more generally. In the philosophy of biology, John’s work has primarily been concerned with the levels of selection where his focus has been on whether collectives, such as biotic communities and ecosystems, might be units of selection distinct from the individuals that compose them.

  • Research Fellowship Summers of 2008 – 2012, Northeastern University’s Nanotechnology and Society Research Group (Award of $55,000).
  • The Berent Enç Graduate Teaching Award 2011, Department of Philosophy, UW-Madison.
  • Nominee, Campus-Wide Teaching Assistant Award: Capstone Ph.D Teaching Award 2010, University of Wisconsin Madison.
  • Basl J., and Sandler, R., Designer Biology: The Ethics of Intensively Engineering Biological and Ecological Systems, Lexington Books, 2013.
  • Basl J., and Sandler, R., “The Good of Non-Sentient Entities: Organisms, Artifacts, and Synthetic Biology” Studies in History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 2013.
  • Basl, J., “The Ethics of Engineering Non-Human Research Subjects” Ethical Issues in Engineering Ecological and Biological Systems, Basl, J. and Sandler, R. (eds.), Lexington Books, 2013.
  • Basl, J. and Sandler, R., “Three Puzzles Regarding the Moral Status of Synthetic Organisms” Synthetic Biology and Morality: Artificial Life and the Bounds of Nature, Kaebnick, G. and Murray T.H. (eds), MIT Press, 2013.
  • Basl, J., “The Moral Status of Artificial Intelligences” Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Sandler, R. (ed), Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013.
  • Streiffer, R., and Basl, J., “The Ethics of Engineering Animals for Agriculture” Ethics and Emerging Technologies, Sandler, R. (ed.), Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013.
  • Basl, J., “Nothing Good Will Come from Giving Up Aetiological Accounts of Teleology” Philosophy & Technology (25:4) 2012, pp. 543-546.
  • Streiffer, R., and Basl, J., “Ethical Issues in the Application of Biotechnology to Animals in Agriculture” Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics, Beauchamp, T. and Frey, R. (eds.), Oxford University Press 2011, pp. 826-854.
  • Basl, J., “State Neutrality and the Ethics of Human Enhancement Technologies” American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience (1:2) 2010, pp. 41-48.
  • Basl, J., “Restitutive Restoration: New Motivations for Ecological Restoration” Environmental Ethics (32:2) 2010, pp. 135-147.
  • Sandler, R., and Basl, J., “Transhumanism, Human Dignity, and Moral Status” Open Peer Commentary, American Journal of Bioethics (10:7) 2010, pp. 63-66.
  • Education

    Ph.D., 2011, Philosophy,
    University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Contact

  • Address

    421 Renaissance Park
    360 Huntington Avenue,
    Boston, MA 02115


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