Location: Bowdoin / Sarah O'Brien Conly


Sarah O. Conly

Associate Professor of Philosphy
Chair of Philosophy Department

Contact Information


Edward Pols House - 204

Current teaching schedule available on the public course finder.



  • Ph.D. (Cornell)
  • M.A. (Cornell)
  • B.A. (Princeton)

Current Projects

My new book, One Child:  Do We Have a Right to More, will be out in November, 2015, with Oxford University Press.  In it, I argue  that when human population numbers threaten the environment in profound ways, we have no right to have more than one child.  For this reason, it can be permissible for governments to regulate the number of children we have, as long as they do that in ways that don’t violate rights.

I have four new articles related to paternalism and autonomy appearing in upcoming anthologies:   “Better Off Dead: Paternalism and Persistent Unconsciousness,” in Nudging Health:  Health Law and Behavioral Economics, I. Glenn Cohen and Holly Lynch, eds., Johns Hopkins Press, forthcoming, 2016; “Autonomy and Well-Being,” in Handbook to the Philosophy of Well-being, Guy Fletcher, ed. Routledge, forthcoming, 2015; “Paternalism, Freedom of Choice, and Food,” Handbook of Food Ethics, Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett, and Andrew Egan, eds., Oxford University Press; “Paternalism and the Limits of Liberty,” in the Handbook of Libertarianism, Jason Brennan, David Schmidtz, and Bas van der Vossen, eds., Routledge.   I will also have a couple of journal articles appearing in in the Revue Toqueville and the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy.  

I was happy to have the opportunity to edit and introduce a retrospective collection of essays in the journal Ethics, to appear in 2015.

In 2016 I plan to start a new project, probably on privacy.

Recent Publications

Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, Cambridge University Press, 2013
"Three Cheers for the Nanny State," Op-ed, New York Times, March 25, 2013
"Coercive Paternalism in Health Care:  Against Freedom of Choice," Public Health Ethics, vol. 6 #3 (published on line Sept. 2013)
"Against Autonomy: Author Meets Critics: Precis," Journal of Medical Ethics,  on line edition, Dec. 12, 2013
"Against Autonomy: Author Meets Critics: Response," Journal of Medical Ethics, on line edition,  Feb. 14, 2014
"Contre l’Autonomie, French translation of Against Autonomy," Presses de l’Université Laval, tr. Gérald Baril, 2015