Home > Research > Researchers > Garrath Williams
View graph of relations

Dr Garrath Williams

Senior Lecturer

Garrath Williams

Lancaster University

County South



Tel: +44 1524 592427

Office Hours:

Michalemas term office hours: Monday 3-4pm & Friday 3-4pm (B74 County South)

Research overview

My research interests fall across ethics, political theory and applied ethics. One of my main interests, in all three of these areas, is in the many facets of the concept of responsibility. In ethics, I also work on Kant, including a current AHRC-funded project. In political theory, I have a special interest in Hannah Arendt. In applied ethics, I have been involved in collaborative research on children, health and public policy, including the EU-funded projects IDEFICS and I.Family which investigated diet and health-related behaviours in a large cohort of families across Europe. I have also worked on ethical issues in collaborative design of public services and on ethical issues in biomedical research. 

PhD supervision

I have research interests across normative ethics, political theory and applied ethics (especially public health). I would be glad to hear from potential doctoral students considering research on Kant's practical philosophy, Hannah Arendt, the political theory of corporations (business or otherwise), the philosophy of responsibility, and public health (especially in the areas of food and noncommunicable disease).


I took all my degrees at Manchester University - BA in Philosophy and Politics, MA in Health Care Ethics, and PhD (on theory of action in Kant's philosophy) in the Department of Government. I lectured in Political Theory in the same department, then in philosophy at the Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, before coming to Lancaster University in 2003.

I have also been a Visiting Professor at the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany and have previously held visiting fellowships at Copenhagen Business School's Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, the European Academy for the Study of the Consequences of Scientific and Technological Advances, Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, and the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at the University of St Andrews.

Current Teaching

I have taught widely moral philosophy, political thought and applied ethics. My current courses are:

  • Philosophical Issues in Politics and Economics (PPR211)
  • Contemporary Issues in Political Philosophy (PPR215)

Research Interests

My overarching interest is the concept of responsibility and its practical aspects. Contemporary philosophers have focussed on the nature of responsible agency - especially what distinguishes sane adult human beings from other, non-responsible agents - and the justification of blame and punishment, as modes of holding people and organisations responsible for wrong-doing. I am also interested in two further topics: One is how we define and allocate responsibilities to people and organisation - not only general moral duties, but also more the responsibilities attaching to particular social roles. The other concerns the virtue of responsibility: if all sane adults are responsible, it is still true that some are more responsible than others, and a similar point can be made about organisations.

These interests often relate to applied and policy questions. Topics of my current work include the powers and responsibilities of business corporations and the framing of issues in public health (including corporate regulation, individual responsibility, and health inequalities). These follow from my involvement in two large EU-funded projects on children, diet and health, I.Family (2012-2017) and IDEFICS (2006-2011). Related interests include research ethics and biobanking. I was also involved in an AHRC-funded project Leapfrog on innovative ways to promote wider engagement in the design of public services, and am collaborating with the ESCR-funded CASS centre (Corpus Approaches to Social Science) in a project on newspaper representations of obesity.

Research Grants

I am currently co-investigator on a collaborative UK-German project on Kant's practical philosophy, "Using people well, treating people badly" (funded by the AHRC and DFG, 2023-6). The project explores how people can act as means (but not mere means!) toward one another's ends, alongside forms of abuse and neglect beyond (mere) instrumentalisation.

I have also been involved in European-funded collaborative projects relating to health and biotechnology, contributing especially in the areas of ethics and public policy. I was Principal Investigator at Lancaster for the EU Framework 7 project I.Family - Determinants of eating behaviour in European children, adolescents and their parents (2012-17). This followed an earlier project, IDEFICS (Identification and prevention of dietary-and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants), funded by the EU under Framework 6 (2007-12). These epidemiological and intervention projects on dietary-related ill-health involved over 16,000 children.

I have also collaborated with colleagues in LICA (Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts) and Glasgow School of Art on an AHRC-funded project called Leapfrog (2015-18). Earlier projects in which I was involved include INES - Institutionalisation of Ethics in Science Policy (FP6) and Eurogenbank (FP4), on genetic banking. I have also done training and consultancy in police ethics and in research ethics.

Additional Information

Follow me on Twitter: @GarrathWilliams

Personal website: https://garrathwilliams.weebly.com


View all (76) »

View all (12) »