John G. Winant Associate Professor of U.S. Foreign Policy
Research Interests: International law on the use of force, Just war theory, Theories of international law, U.S. military practices, Attitudes toward the use of force, Moral psychology
I am a Professor at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) of the University of Oxford. I am also a Fellow at Nuffield College and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict (ELAC).
My research concerns the role of law and morality in international relations, specifically in war. In one strand of research, I develop legal and philosophical theories about how international law can be an instrument of morality in war, albeit an imperfect one. This work speaks to debates in just war theory and international law.
Another strand of my research seeks to explain how moral and legal norms affect the reality of war. I contribute to debates about the capacity of international law to constrain military decision-making. I also study how normative considerations can shape public opinion on the use of force and the attitudes of conflict-affected populations, for instance, in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Iraq.
In 2021, I won a Philip Leverhulme Prize for researchers "whose work has had international impact and whose future research career is exceptionally promising." I will use the prize to conduct further research on the moral psychology of decision-making in war.
In 2022-2024, I co-convene (with Scott Sagan) a research project on the "Law and Ethics of Nuclear Deterrence," which is part of the Research Network on Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and hosted by the Harvard Belfer Centre.
Starting in 2024, I will also work on a three-year project entitled "Cumulative Civilian Harm: Addressing the Hidden Human Cost of the Law's Blind Spot", which is funded by a joint grant from the ESRC and the National Science Foundation.