Russell Blackford – Curriculum Vitae
Phone: +61 2 49518035
Email: email@example.com OR Russell.Blackford@newcastle.edu.au
Academic background and professional qualifications
Areas of specialisation
Philosophy and public policy; legal and political philosophy; philosophical bioethics.
Areas of competence
Moral philosophy generally (including metaethics); philosophy of religion; metaphysics (especially free will and personal identity debates); metaphilosophy.
Book chapters and articles
Short popular articles in New Philosopher
Opinion pieces, etc.
Academic and other journals
I am Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology (JET), an online peer-reviewed journal published by the US-based Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. JET is the leading journal dealing with issues relating to emerging technologies and the human future. (JET was an “A” ranked journal under the old ERA journal rankings promulgated in Australia in October 2011.)
In the past I have served on the editorial boards of Science Fiction Studies, the leading academic journal in its field, and the International Journal of Technoethics. I am currently a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Posthuman Studies.
I have acted as a peer reviewer for a wide range of journals, including:
In recent years I have been a frequent contributor to Free Inquiry, New Philosopher, and The Philosophers’ Magazine, as well as to the ABC’s Religion and Ethics Portal. I have also been a frequent contributor to The Conversation.
Research and writing
I aim to produce intellectually rigorous, philosophically informed analysis of the large moral, political, and cultural issues that currently trouble Western liberal democracies. Among others, these include issues related to secularism, religious freedom, freedom of thought, speech, and inquiry, and the future of liberal theory and practice. They also include a raft of ethical and political questions surrounding the use of advanced and emerging technologies.
To express this in another way, I aim to relate philosophy to public policy and current public concerns.
Over more than two decades, I have pursued this aim through a mix of peer-reviewed academic scholarship and writing for more general educated audiences. As of 2019, I have become a prominent public philosopher in Australia and beyond. My ability to make informed contributions to debate on moral, political, and cultural issues is supported by my formal training in law, bioethics, and literary scholarship, and by my extensive experience in public service, public policy management, and professional legal practice.
One strand of my research relates closely to my doctoral dissertation in philosophy, completed at Monash University, examining regulatory policy in respect of emerging genetic technologies. The dissertation entitled Human Enhancement: The Challenge to Liberal Tolerance, was approved in 2008, and I formally graduated in 2009. I subsequently developed an extensively revised version, which was published by MIT Press in 2014, under the title Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies. I continue to work in philosophical bioethics and in related areas of legal and political philosophy.
As a legal and political philosopher, I also carry out research relating to secularism, liberal theory and practice, and freedom of speech. Indeed, this has become one of my primary research interests. See, in particular, my 2012 book from Wiley-Blackwell, Freedom of Religion and the Secular State. In his back-cover endorsement of this volume, A.C. Grayling says: “This is a must-read: Blackford has given us a forceful and persuasive book that will have a big impact on the debate it addresses.”
My more general interest in philosophy of religion is reflected in 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists (2009), co-edited with Professor Udo Schüklenk of Queen’s University (Canada). This contains new essays by high-profile atheists (philosophers, creative writers, and others). Professor Schüklenk and I followed up by co-authoring 50 Great Myths About Atheism (2013). This examines many misconceptions, as we see them, about atheism and atheists. It carries back-cover endorsements from Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, and Polly Toynbee.
Much of my current research revolves around questions and anxieties relating to emerging technology. With Dr. Damien Broderick (a distinguished Australian author, academic, and futurist, now based in San Antonio, Texas), I have edited Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds, which was published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2014. This deals with philosophical and scientific questions involving the prospect of machine intelligence.
The Mystery of Moral Authority (Palgrave in 2016) investigates fundamental issues in moral philosophy, including metaethics. It scrutinizes most major approaches to the nature and authority of morality, including theological approaches, moral relativism(s), broadly Kantian approaches, various forms of moral naturalism, and approaches based on virtue ethics.
My latest books are:
Public and community service
Prior to undertaking a Ph.D. in philosophy at Monash University from 2004 to 2008, I enjoyed a distinguished career involving experience in public service and public policy management. For this, I have an entry in Who’s Who in Australia. For approximately three years I practised law with Phillips Fox Lawyers, a major commercial firm, based in Melbourne, that has since been absorbed into DLA Piper.
During the 1980s, 1990s and early years of the new century, I also established a profile as a professional writer, literary critic, and public intellectual.
In addition to books and formal articles, I have written many shorter pieces, including op-ed contributions in a wide range of forums. The latter include: Free Inquiry (for which I write a regular column), ABC Religion and Ethics Portal,The Drum, The Conversation, The Guardian (Comment is Free), Policy Forum, Areo, Quillette, and Arc Digital. I am also a frequent contributor to the semi-popular philosophy periodicals New Philosopher (Australia) and The Philosophers’ Magazine (UK).
I contribute to the work of the Center for Inquiry and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies – organisations with which I am formally affiliated – and I am a Fellow of the latter organisation.
I have been a speaker at many academic conferences and symposiums, and at major international conventions. I have also made numerous media appearances, including my participation in a debate on the subject “Atheists Are Wrong” – broadcast on national television and radio by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 2011.
In February 2014, I was inducted into the International Academy of Humanism. The other inductees on that occasion were Carolyn Porco, A.C. Grayling, Susan Jacoby, Maryam Namazie, Philip Kitcher, Maryanne Garry, Wendy Kaminer, Leo Igwe, and Lawrence Krauss.
From 2010 to 2015 (inclusive, though I did not take an active part in the judging in 2012), I served as a member of the jury for the annual Norma K. Hemming Award, awarded for excellence in Australian speculative fiction that explores the themes of race, gender, sexuality, class, or disability.
In 2014, I also acted as the judge for the Moral Landscape Challenge, a competition established and funded by Sam Harris for the best essay challenging the central argument of his 2010 book The Moral Landscape.
In July 2017, I was awarded the annual AAP Media Prize. This prize, awarded by the Australasian Association of Philosophy, is for the best philosophical piece(s) published by a professional philosopher in the popular media during the previous calendar year.
Locally in Newcastle, NSW, I have been active since 2010 in assisting a variety of community organisations, including the Hunter Writers’ Centre (I stepped up to chair the HWC’s board of directors at a difficult time for the organisation in 2012-2013) and, from 2013 to the present time, the Newcastle Writers’ Festival.
I was born in Sydney, and grew up in the Lake Macquarie area, near Newcastle, NSW. I lived in Melbourne, Victoria, from February 1979 until December 2009, when I returned to Newcastle.
In addition to my scholarly interests in philosophy and public policy, I am a professionally published author, and a well-known scholar and critic, in the field of science fiction and fantasy. My professionally published fiction includes a trilogy of original novels for the Terminator franchise, collectively entitled Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles.