Welcome to My Web Page!

colin 2020

I am Professor and Queen’s National Scholar in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University.  I am cross-appointed with the Department of Philosophy and I also teach in the School of Policy Studies.

My research interests are interdisciplinary, integrating normative insights from political theory and ethics with empirical insights from diverse disciplines.

The foundational aspiration of my research is the advancement of the Enlightenment Project into the 21st century.  The themes of reason, science, progress, and optimism inform my curiosity-driven research interests and interdisciplinary focus. The philosopher Immanuel Kant described enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.”  Our immaturity can stem from our ignorance of the facts, ideological convictions, cognitive biases, unquestioned assumptions, a myopic perspective, etc.  These cognitive blindspots often lead us to categorize societal problems in overly simplistic terms either because we treat certain values as “sacred” (that is, moral imperatives we’re unwilling to compromise on) or we categorize problems as stemming from one group of people oppressing another group.  By embracing the critical thinking inherent in the Socratic method, I (cautiously and tentatively) aspire to help generate emancipatory knowledge that goes beyond what arm-chair normative theorizing typically has to offer.

This site contains information about my academic career and research interests.

My CV isavailable here.   PubMed entries here.

TedX Queen’s Talk on Global Aging and Longevity Science:

National Post article on “positive biology” here.  Open access JRSM Essay here.  CFRC interview:  

Details about my new “Philosophy for Children and Teens- Kingston” initiative are available here.

Central question which  preoccupies most of my research and life:   How should we live?

My past and current research focuses on more specific topics that arise from this general question, including:

  1. How can we best improve human health in an aging world?
  2. Why play (and what is play)?
  3. What is political theory? And why is it important for us to do political theory?
  4. Why is there patriarchy?
  5. How and why should we punish?
  6. What are the “epistemic virtues”? And how can virtue epistemology help us improve our understanding of the moral landscape?

If you are looking for my blog “In Search of Enlightenment” please click here.

List of publications is here, and detailed research statement is here.  And some details about what I teach are here.

I also have a multimedia page here, which has some video presentations of published papers and works in progress.  I hope you find something of interest! 🙂


I am a political theorist and philosopher and received my PhD from the University of Bristol in England in 1999.  I have published 6 books (two edited volumes and four single-authored books) and numerous articles in a variety of different journals.  My research interests are interdisciplinary and include normative issues in politics, philosophy, law, science and medicine.  My publications have appeared in journals such as Journal of the Royal Society of MedicinePolitical StudiesBritish Medical Journal, Journals of Gerontology, QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, Biogerontology, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, American Journal of BioethicsCanadian Journal of Political ScienceNature’s EMBO ReportsUniversity of Toronto Law JournalBioethicsPublic Health Ethics, Hypatia, Political Studies Review, Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline, Rejuvenation Research and Philosophy of the Social Science.

I am also a father to three amazing kids.  When not working or tending to parental duties I stay sane by engaging in a variety  of activities that help me achieve “flow”.  These include daily exercise (weights, running or biking) and team sports (ultimate frisbee and all sports league), as well as cooking (one of my greatest passions in life).  And I am also active in volunteer work, I find such prosocial activities deeply rewarding.  For more than a decade I have volunteered my time reading to elementary school children and coaching soccer for children.  In recent years I have started teaching political philosophy to inmates.

Before coming to Queen’s University in 2008 I was Associate Professor of Political Science (Cross-Appointed with Philosophy) at Waterloo University for 5 years.  I also spent a year as a Research Fellow in the Dept of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University and as a Visitor in Oxford’s Program on the Ethics of the New Biosciences, and a semester as Visiting Professor at UCLA’s Dept. of Public Policy.  For the Fall term of 2018 I am the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in the Social Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

In the more distant past, I held full-time academic appointments in the Dept of Government at Manchester University, the Dept of Political Science and International Studies at Birmingham University and the Dept of Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The bridge of life: frontispiece to Pearson (1897).

About colinfarrelly

I am a Professor and Queen's National Scholar in the Dept of Political Studies at Queen's University.
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