Department of Political Science


Dr Jeffrey Howard

Associate Professor of Political Theory
Room: 1.02, 31 Tavistock Sq
Telephone: 0203 108 6939
Email: jeffrey.howard@ucl.ac.uk

Dr. Jeffrey Howard is an associate professor at University College London, where he has taught political philosophy since 2015. He writes on freedom of expression, social media, democracy, crime and punishment, and counter-extremism. He has published in various journals including Philosophy & Public AffairsThe Journal of Political PhilosophyLaw and Philosophy, British Journal of Political Science, and the Annual Review of Political Science.

He is currently launching a cross-disciplinary research project on the ethics of content moderation on social media and the future of free speech online, thanks to a £1.5 million UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. He has previously received research funding from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust. He is a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, and he has also received the British Academy’s Rising Star Award. He was the recipient of the 2021 Berger Memorial Prize from the American Philosophical Association for the best paper in the philosophy of law.

He regularly communicates his philosophical ideas to non-academic audiences, including tech companies and policymakers. He has participated in a variety of discussions on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4, along with other outlets such as National Public Radio in the US and many philosophy and politics podcasts. His public writing has appeared in various outlets including The Washington Post and The Independent.

At UCL he has earned the Prize for Outstanding Faculty Teaching in the UCL School of Public Policy on two occasions, as well as the Award for Educational Leadership in the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences. At the University of Essex, where he taught prior to joining UCL, he won the Student Union’s award for Best Lecturer at the university, and the THINK series he created won The Guardian’s University Award for Student Experience. Jeff currently teaches courses on ethics as part of an executive leadership training programme to civil servants within HM Treasury. 

He earned his DPhil and MPhil at Oxford University and his undergraduate degree at Harvard University.


Dr Howard writes on a variety of moral challenges facing citizens and policymakers. At the heart of his work is a concern with the fragility of our moral capacities, and the duties we have to design institutions and practices that bring the best out of us, rather than the worst. This overarching intellectual theme motivates his interventions across a range of debates—from hate speech to the purpose of punishment, from criminal entrapment to the justification of democracy.

His current and future work focuses on freedom of speech in the digital age. As part of this work, he seeks to pinpoint the moral duties of speakers to refrain from various forms of dangerous speech, assessing the necessity and proportionality of enforcing those duties through law. A central task of his upcoming work will be to specify the moral duties of online platforms to combat various forms of harmful content online, and to determine how these practices of “content moderation” should be legally regulated. He also continues to work on topics in normative democratic theory and the philosophy of criminal law.

  • “Restorative Justice and the Moral Standing of Unjust States” (co-authored with Avia Pasternak), accepted at The Journal of Political Philosophy
  • “Extreme Speech, Democratic Deliberation, and Social Media,” in The Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics, edited by Carissa Véliz, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (forthcoming).
  • “Coronavirus Disinformation, Freedom of Speech, and Social Media,” in Political Philosophy in a Pandemic, edited by Aveek Bhattacharya and Fay Niker, London, UK: Bloomsbury (forthcoming).
  • “Hate, Terror, and the Demands of Counter-Speech,” British Journal of Political Science, online early view: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S000712341900053X
  • “Yaffe on Democratic Citizenship and Juvenile Justice,” Criminal Law & Philosophy, online early view: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11572-019-09508-6
  • “Defending Broad Neutrality,” Critical Review of International Social & Political Philosophy 23, 1 (2020): 36-47.
  • Review of Benjamin S. Yost, Against Capital Punishment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2020, at https://ndpr.nd.edu/reviews/against-capital-punishment
  • “Dangerous Speech,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 47, 2 (2019): 208-254.
  • “Ransom,” in The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, edited by Hugh LaFollette. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell (2019), at https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee919
  • “The Public Role of Ethics and Public Policy,” in The Routledge Handbook in Ethics & Public Policy, edited by Annabelle Lever and Andrei Poama, Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2019
  • “Free Speech and Hate Speech,” Annual Review of Political Science 22 (2019): 93-109.
  • “The Labors of Justice: Democracy, Respect, and Judicial Review,” Critical Review of International Social & Political Philosophy 22, 2 (2019): 176-199.
  • “Kidnapped: The Ethics of Paying Ransoms,” The Journal of Applied Philosophy 35, 4 (2018): 675-688.
  • “Punishment as Moral Fortification,” Law & Philosophy 36, 1 (2017): 45-75.
  • “Moral Subversion and Structural Entrapment,” The Journal of Political Philosophy 24, 1 (2016): 24-46.
  • “The Instability of Democratic Contractarianism,” Political Studies Review 13, 2 (2015): 184-195.
  • “Democracy as the Search for Justice: A Defence of the Democracy/Contractualism Analogy,” Political Studies 63, 1 (2015): 259-275.
  • “Punishment, Socially Deprived Offenders, and Democratic Community,” Criminal Law and Philosophy 7, 1 (2013): 121-136.

Details of further publications available here


At UCL I have taught the following modules:


  • Foundations of Political Thought
  • Justice & Public Policy
  • Ethics of Crime and Punishment
  • Normative Methods


  • The Ethics of Counterterrorism
  • Public Ethics
  • Equality, Justice, and Difference


I am currently primary or secondary supervisor to various PhD dissertations on a range of topics in contemporary political philosophy. I particularly welcome applications from students working on issues related to freedom of speech, social media regulation, criminal punishment, and the ethics of democratic discourse.