Sarah O. Conly

Associate Professor of Philosphy and Chair of Philosophy Department

Teaching this semester

PHIL 1351. Utopias and Dystopias

Sarah Conly
Through analysis of different theories of political and social organization represented in classic political philosophy and fiction, examines notions of what contributes to one kind of society being perceived as “better” than another, the roles of private property and families, and the delineation between private and public. Authors may include Robert Heinlein, Ursula K. LeGuin, Alexei Panshin, and others.

PHIL 2321. Moral Theory

Sarah Conly
Is there a morally right way to live? If so, what is it? Should I do what is best for me? Should I respect individual rights -- and if so, what rights do individuals have? Should I do whatever maximizes the welfare of society? Examines these fundamental ethical questions.


  • 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