James Hart

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford. I primarily work in population-level bioethics.

About me

My current research focuses on the ethics of priority setting especially in the allocation of scarce healthcare resources, though my interests span moral and political philosophy quite broadly. I am especially interested in how we ought to include considerations of fairness in healthcare measures and allocation decisions, and how fairness weighs against other considerations. I am always looking for people to collaborate with, so if any of this sounds interesting please do get in touch.

I studied for a PhD in Philosophy at the Universities of Reading and Southampton under the tutelage of Philip Stratton-Lake, Brad Hooker and Jonathan Way. My thesis focused on 'limited' aggregation especially as it related to fairness and the distribution of harms and benefits. I was funded through the AHRC's South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership and I received coaching from Effective Thesis

In a previous life I was a policy researcher, and still like to venture out of the academy whenever possible. This has included providing the NHS ethical guidance to support the development of a new Ethical Framework for allocating healthcare resources. You can also read one of my attempts at public philosophy in this nerdy anthology

When I'm not working you're likely to find me playing Wingspan or commenting on the most recent EA for Christians Facebook post.


Limited aggregationists argue that when deciding between competing claims to aid we are sometimes required and sometimes forbidden from aggregating weaker claims to outweigh stronger claims. Joe Horton presents a ‘fatal dilemma’ for these views. Views that land on the First Horn of his dilemma suggest that a previously losing group strengthened by fewer and weaker claims can be more choice-worthy than the previously winning group strengthened by more and stronger claims. Views that land on the Second Horn suggest that combining two losing groups together and two winning groups together can turn the losing groups into the winning groups and the winning groups into the losing groups. This paper demonstrates that the ‘fatal dilemma’ is neither fatal nor a dilemma. The First Horn is devastating but avoidable and the Second Horn is unavoidable but not devastating. Nevertheless, Horton’s argument does help to narrow down the acceptable range of views.

Sometimes we must choose between competing claims to aid or assistance, and sometimes those competing claims differ in strength and quantity. In such cases, we must decide whether the claims on each opposing side can be aggregated. Relevance views argue that a set of claims can be aggregated only if they are sufficiently strong (compared to the claims with which they compete) to be morally relevant to the decision. Relevance views come in two flavours: Local Relevance and Global Relevance. This paper presents a trilemma for both. Namely, that neither view can capture our intuition in tie-break cases, without forfeiting our intuitions in other important cases.

I then present a way to salvage relevance views and capture all our intuitions using a Hybrid view. By distinguishing between two types of relevance we can combine the strengths of Local and Global Relevance views such that we can hold all our intuitions, consistently and in a non-ad-hoc manner. Building on this, the paper demonstrates how we might amend the strongest formulation of a Relevance view, into a Hybrid account.


Associate Lecturer

University of Reading:


Fairness (Year 3)

Introduction to Political Ideas (Year 1 - Politics Department)


Ignorance Doubt and Relativism (Year 2)

Reason and Argument (Year 1)

Freedom (Year 1 – Politics Department) 

Graduate Teaching Assistant

University of Southampton:


Mind and World (Year 1)

University of Reading:


Reason, Value and Knowledge (Year 3)

Meaning of Life (Year 1)


Radical Philosophy (Year 1)



Linkedin Profile

Twitter: @James_the_hart