Jennifer Blumental-Barby

WEBSITE(S)| Baylor College of Medicine, Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy | Jennifer Blumenthal Barby

I am the Cullen Professor of Medical Ethics and the Associate Director for the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. I received my Ph.D. in philosophy, with a specialization in bioethics, from Michigan State University in 2008. My dissertation was on the philosophy of ambivalence and its impact on autonomy and agency.

My research focuses primarily on the philosophical and ethical questions raised by research on human judgment and decision-making. For example, what are we to make of autonomy and rationality given the many frailties in judgment and decision-making (e.g., cognitive biases and heuristics, weakness of will, ambivalence and indecision)?  Is it morally permissible to use knowledge of these biases and weaknesses (in other words, principles from behavioral economics and decision psychology) to influence people’s decisions and behaviors? Under what conditions/circumstances? Is this manipulation? If so, what is the moral status of manipulation–might it sometimes be permissible or even morally desirable? I have a new book on this topic: Good Ethics and Bad Choices: The Relevance of Behavioral Economics for Medical Ethics (MIT Press):

Two secondary areas of research are ethical and philosophical issues in psychiatry/neurology/neuroscience (“Neuroethics”) and the intersection of bioethics and continental philosophy (esp. existentialism and phenomenology).

I have served as a member of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Philosophy of Medicine, am co-founder of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Medical Decision Making Affinity Group, and an alumnus of the Greenwall Faculty Scholars Program in Bioethics. I am currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Medical Ethics, on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH), and serve on the editorial board for The American Journal of Bioethics. I also serve as an ethicist on the NIH-NINDS review panel for first-in-human neuorodevices.  My research has been funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), The Greenwall Foundation, AHRQ, and the NIH BRAIN Initiative. I am currently leading and establishing a Philosophical Bioethics Consortium with  Julian Savulescu (Oxford), Dan Sulmasy (Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute), and Matthew Liao (NYU). Launch will be coming soon on

Research Areas

Ethics, Bioethics, Decision Theory (esp. behavioral economics), Moral Psychology, Autonomy and Agency, Neuroethics, Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Teaching Areas


Applied Ethics

Ethical Theory

Death and Dying



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