Julia Netter

I am a political philosopher interested in liberal theory, moral pluralism, and the ethics of public debate.

[ CVResearch statementTeaching statement ]

I recently completed my DPhil1 in political philosophy at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford.
My main interests are in normative political philosophy, and, in particular, questions of justification and moral pluralism in liberal political theory. Specifically, my DPhil thesis looks at the challenge that deep moral disagreement poses to public reason.

Before the DPhil, I completed my MPhil in Political Theory, also at Oxford. In my MPhil thesis, I explored how to address fundamentally unreasonable views from the perspective of political liberalism.

Before that even, I did my bachelor's degree in Political Science at the University of Bamberg, where I worked as a student research assistant at the Chair for Political Theory ("Lehrstuhl für Politische Theorie").

I currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My husband, Malte Schwarzkopf, is a computer scientist.

  1. Called a PhD anywhere else in the world.


DPhil thesis

Why Be Reasonable? Political Liberalism, Moral Pluralism, and Deep Disagreement

Political liberalism contains a commitment to public justification. The exercise of coercion on the basis of political principles is only thought to be proper if these principles are acceptable to each and every reasonable person. The fact that political liberalism restricts the constituency of public justification, i.e., the constituency of those who are owed justifications, to reasonable people is significant. I argue that, as it stands, this restriction is problematic. Specifically, political liberalism's core commitment to respect for persons as ends in themselves is in conflict with its refusal to justify their exclusion to some individuals who will be coerced. Furthermore, attempts to dispense with the need to provide justifications to the unreasonable seem to resolve that tension, but only at the cost of introducing a second defect: an impoverished and ultimately illiberal conception of the person which refuses to regard individual persons as morally autonomous.

My work resolves that tension, arguing that justifications can indeed be offered to those who are not seen as reasonable by the standards of political liberalism. Two different kinds of unreasonableness warrant different kinds of justifications: those who are fundamentally unreasonable because they reject the core liberal commitment to persons as free and equal, are unable to escape that very moral commitment, as it can be shown to be implicit in their attitude and conduct towards their fellow citizens. Others who, when they encounter deep moral disagreement in political debates, fall short of the requirement to engage with others in public reason on the basis of shared values, can be offered justifications for restraint which are rooted in the character of the very moral convictions they are tempted to draw on in public reason.

My research statement has more details on my current projects.


My teaching interests are in the area of contemporary normative political philosophy.

During my DPhil studies, I taught the undergraduate Theory of Politics course within the Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) program. This second-year course forms the advanced introduction to modern analytical political philosophy for Oxford PPE students.

My teaching statement has more information about my teaching philosophy.


I use LaTeX for my type-setting (you should, too!), and have collected some resources for using LaTeX for work in the Humanities.


Email me at julia.c.g.netter@gmail.com. If you would like the content to stay between us, you can find my public PGP-key here.

I also occasionally tweet pictures of cats.