Dr. Justin Bernstein
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Areas of Specialization
Moral and Political Philosophy
Office Phone: 561-297-
Dr. Justin Bernstein received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. He received an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and his B.A. in philosophy from Vassar College. Prior to joining FAU, he was a Hecht-Levi postdoctoral research fellow at The Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Bernstein's research falls into two broad areas. The first area addresses questions in ethics and political philosophy. His main project in this area involves developing a theory about what renders states, particular government institutions, and particular actions politically legitimate. Other topics of interest include how requirements of justice ought to inform the arrangement of social and economic institutions, what makes the exercise of coercive power morally permissible, how role morality relates to other moral requirements, and the moral significance of autonomy.
Dr. Bernstein's second area of research focuses on topics in bioethics, especially how governments, medical practitioners, and ordinary citizens ought to respond to collective action problems relating to health. When addressing the 'citizen-side' of these questions, Dr. Bernstein tries to make sense of moral obligations to get vaccinated for various diseases, the moral significance of vaccine hesitancy caused by historical or ongoing injustice in the medical context, and whether individuals have obligations to refrain from contributing to massive harms, such as factory farming or climate change. When addressing the 'government-side' of these questions, Dr. Bernstein considers what sorts of vaccine mandates are just or legitimate, how different (often conflicting) ethical considerations should inform government efforst to prevent, contain, or mitigate outbreaks of infectious diseases or pandemics, and what sorts of measures governments should implement to change dietary patterns.
Dr. Bernstein's research has been published in a variety of venues, including The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Ethics, Policy, and Environment, Public Health Ethics, Journal of Medical Ethics, The Journal of Value Enquiry, The Hastings Center Bioethics Forum, Lancet Digital Health, and The New York Times.
Dr. Bernstein is also a passionate teacher. He received the Penn Prize in Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student, as well as the Penn Center for Teaching and Learning Graduate Fellowship in Teaching Excellence. At the time he received these awards, he also co-directed a program in which he and other instructors taught philosophy to students from a variety of public schools in Philadelphia. Before pursuing a career in academic philosophy, Dr. Bernstein taught 8th Grade English at Link Community School in Newark, N.J.