Professor Seth Lazar

D.Phil. M.Phil. BA (Hons)
Associate Professor
College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: 02 61258995

Areas of expertise

  • Social Philosophy 220319
  • Ethical Theory 220305
  • Applied Ethics 2201
  • Human Rights And Justice Issues 220104
  • Political Theory And Political Philosophy 160609
  • Decision Theory 220302
  • International Relations 160607

Research interests

I write on topics in political philosophy, and normative and applied ethics. I have two current research projects.

The first focuses on how those who care about rights and duties can make decisions under risk and uncertainty. I’m working on a book, to come out with Oxford University Press, called Duty Under Doubt: Deontological Decision-Making with Imperfect Information. This work fits into ‘Ethics and Risk’, an AUD335,000 grant from the Australian government, held jointly with Katie Steele, Alan Hajek, Frank Jackson, Philip Pettit and Lara Buchak.

My second project, which I started in August 2019, is on Humanising Machine Intelligence. I’m project leader of a major AUD7.5m investment by ANU on the morality, law and politics of data and AI. Our goal is to lay the social, theoretical, and technological foundations for democratically legitimate data and AI. I am thrilled to be working with some of the university’s leading computer scientists, philosophers, and social scientists on one of the most important problems of our age. Read about that at’m going to be working on a number of topics: philosophical issues raised by the political economy of data and AI; automating governance and governing automation; and how AI amplifies human tendencies, for better or worse. This last topic is part of a just-awarded grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation, part of their ‘Diverse Intelligences’ initiative, for USD234,000, for which I am Director, Claire Benn is Co-Director, and Jenny Davis, Toni Erskine, Colin Klein, and Bob Williamson are also investigators.



I’m a Professor in the School of Philosophy at the ANU, lead CI on the ARC grant ‘Ethics and Risk’, director of a Templeton World Charity Foundation project on ‘Moral Skill and Artificial Intelligence’, and project leader of the major interdisciplinary research project: Humanising Machine Intelligence. In 2019, I was awarded the ANU Vice Chancellor’s award for excellence in research.

In my first book, Sparing Civilians (Oxford, 2015), I tried to preserve the protection of civilians in war against political and philosophical threats that have arisen in recent years. The book is the subject of a symposium in Law and Philosophy, available online now. A central focus of my early work on the ethics of war was the necessity of taking an approach more grounded in political philosophy than in moral philosophy—the same redirection is necessary for work on the morality, law and politics of data and AI.

I've published papers in many top journals, including Ethics (2009, 2015, 2017), Philosophy & Public Affairs (2010, 2012, 2018), Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2015), Nous (2017), Synthese (2019), Philosophical Quarterly (2018), Philosophical Studies (2017), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy (2017), and others. See 'Research' for more. I'm also an Area Editor at Ergo, an editor of Philosophers' Imprint, and on the editorial board of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy

I'm also a photographer. You can see more of my photos here. Sometimes the nice people at Samyang send me lenses to play with. You can see those pictures here. I exhibit my night sky work, which you can also buy here.


Current student projects

Lexical Priority and Risk

Moral Anti-Rationalism

Addressing the Environmental Crisis

Contractualism and Future Generations


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  19 September 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers