Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics
Professor, Department of Philosophy
Dr. Powers' primary research interests include: (1) political philosophy and practical ethics with a focus on the moral relation between the state and the individual; and (2) the intersection of bioethics and political morality, especially questions regarding social justice, the social role of markets, individual liberty, and individual privacy. Dr. Powers has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on a variety of topics in normative and practical philosophy.
He is co-editor, with Ruth Faden and Gail Geller, of Aids, Women and the Next Generation, and with co-investigator Ruth Faden, he was the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Investigator Award. He also served for many years as a member and as chair of the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation overseeing the Investigator Awards Program, and he has participated in many private and governmental advisory bodies including the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) for the National Institutes of Health. Drs. Powers and Faden are co-authors of a recent book, Social Justice: The Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Care Policy (NY: Oxford University Press, 2006; revised paperback edition, 2008).
Beginning in 2011, Dr. Powers and co-author Ruth Faden began work on a series of new papers and a new book on global justice. These projects are intended to build upon and address further issues arising out of their theory of systematic disadvantage developed in Social Justice.
An emerging interest centers on environmental challenges arising from the global system of production and distribution of food, energy, and water - a triad of interrelated practical problems of justice that he has dubbed the "FEW problem." The focus of the Few problem is upon both public regulatory policies and private resource decisions that have the potential to systematically disadvantage many of the planet’s most vulnerable and least powerful people. Topics of current papers in press include the ethics of climate change and whether the prospects for domestic justice depend on ensuring global justice in the access to and control of natural resources. These and other core issues raised by the FEW project are discussed in his website FewResources.org.