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Gah-Kai Leung

PhD Candidate (he/him)

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Gah-Kai.Leung@warwick.ac.uk

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My first name is pronounced ‘GAR-kay’. Trained as a political theorist, my research interests cut across philosophy, the environmental sciences and the social sciences. My main ESRC-funded doctoral research is on the ethical and political issues in earthquake/tsunami risk management. Specifically, I work on the risk of catastrophic tsunami-generating earthquakes on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which spans the Pacific Northwest USA and Canada.

More generally, I am concerned with questions of injustice, social problems and public policy. In this vein, I have ongoing projects on body image and eating disorders; care work and mental health; and historical injustice, forgiveness and reconciliation. I am finishing a book chapter on bureaucracy and structural injustice. I am increasingly interested in our social needs, rights and interests and our intense need for social connectedness as human beings. This strand of my work is influenced by both recent philosophical writings on the ethics of sociability and popular perceptions of an epidemic of lonelinessLink opens in a new window and emotional isolation, particularly in the aftermath of COVID-19. I have also written on issues in bioethics and environmental ethics.

I am supervised by Keith HyamsLink opens in a new window and Simon CaneyLink opens in a new window, with a range of informal collaborators including Rebecca BellLink opens in a new window and Douglas ToomeyLink opens in a new window.

At Warwick, I am affiliated with the Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs (CELPALink opens in a new window) and the Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group’s project on Ethics in Climate and DevelopmentLink opens in a new window. I’m also a member of the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDRLink opens in a new window), the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERILink opens in a new window) and the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSELink opens in a new window).

Coming from a non-specialist and interdisciplinary academic background, I am keen to encourage more students to transfer into philosophy and political theory from other fields. Please contact me for further information.

Research Interests
  • Social, political and legal philosophy (mostly in the analytic tradition)
  • Science, technology, ethics and public policy
  • Natural hazards, disasters and emergencies (esp. earthquakes and tsunamis)
  • Risk, uncertainty and resilience
  • Parenting, childhood and education
  • Minority philosophy (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, disability)
  • Philosophy of social science
  • Philosophy of psychiatry and mental health
  • Historical, structural and epistemic injustices
Publications
Conference Presentations
Papers (selected):
  • 2024: ‘Reducing the Costs of Queer Flirting’, Workshop on the Future of Relationships, MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory, University of Manchester, 4-6 September
  • 2024: ‘Historical Injustice and the Epistemic Preconditions for a Just History Curriculum: Lessons from the Japanese History Textbook Controversy’, 26th Annual Conference in Law, Culture and the Humanities, University of British Columbia, 17-18 May
  • 2023: ‘Time Taxes and Avoidable Structural Injustice’, Graduate Conference in Political Theory, University of Oxford, 24-25 April
  • 2022: ‘The Environmental Harms of Earthquakes: An Ethical Analysis of the Impact of Earthquakes on the Non-Human World’, 12th National Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Salt Lake City, 27 June - 1 July
  • 2021: ‘Reducing Flood Risks for Young People in the UK Housing Market’, Workshop on Housing in Crisis, MANCEPT Online Workshops in Political Theory, University of Manchester, 7-10 September
  • 2021: ‘The Ethical Argument for Gender-Neutral Public Conveniences’, Queerness Beyond Borders, University of Oxford, 9 July
  • 2021: ‘The Legitimate Use of Emergency Powers in Response to Pandemics’, Fifth International Conference on Public Policy, University of Barcelona, 7 July
  • 2021: ‘The Social and Environmental Harms of Earthquakes’, Sixth Annual Global Ethics Conference, University of Birmingham, 26-28 May
  • 2021: ‘Reducing Flood Risks for Young People in the UK Housing Market’, Conference on Flooding, Resilience and the Climate Crisis, University of Sheffield, 19 May
  • 2021: ‘The Legitimate Use of Emergency Powers in Response to Pandemics’, HKU Legal and Political Theory Postgraduate Conference, University of Hong Kong, 5-7 May
  • 2021: ‘Socially Transformative Experiences: The Case of the COVID-19 Pandemic’, Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research Congress, Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University, 21-23 April
  • 2020: ‘Ethical Issues in the Policy Response to Earthquake and Tsunami Hazards in Cascadia: A Critical Survey of the Field’, Public Issues and Public Reason: A Conference of Applied Ethics and Critical Social Sciences, Carleton University (Canada), 20-21 October
  • 2020: ‘The Legitimacy of Mandatory Emergency Preparedness Measures’, Workshop on The Ethics and Politics of Risk (Mis)Communication, MANCEPT Online Workshops in Political Theory, 9-11 September
  • 2020: ‘The Narrative Coherence Standard and Child Patients' Capacity to Consent’, Graduate Conference in Political & Legal Theory, University of Warwick, 15 February.
  • 2018: ‘Sexuality, Science and Religion in the Public Sphere: Perfectionism and the Problem of Justificatory Disagreement’, MANCEPT Brave New World Graduate Conference in Political Theory, University of Manchester, 11-12 June.

  • 2018: ‘An Argument for Gender-Neutral Public Toilets: Urinary Segregation as Morally Wrongful Discrimination’, Graduate Conference in Political & Legal Theory, University of Warwick, 17 February.
  • 2017: ‘Discrimination and the Political Morality of Gender-Neutral Public Toilets’, Sex, Gender & Sexuality: Postgraduate Perspectives, University of Leicester, 29 July.
Invited Commentaries:
  • 2022: on Ron Aboodi, ‘A Central Worry about Manipulation in Education’, American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting, Baltimore, 13 January.
  • 2020: on Riana Popat, ‘How Plausible is the Autism Objection to Hermeneutic Fictionalism?’ Joint Birmingham-Nottingham-Warwick Graduate Philosophy Conference, University of Nottingham, 11 December.
  • 2020: on Jana Wolkowski, ‘Contested Borders and Contested States: The Political and Human Rights Consequences Resulting from the Regulation of Migrant Flows between Africa and Europe’, Public Issues and Public Reason: A Conference of Applied Ethics and Critical Social Sciences, Carleton University (Canada), 20-21 October
  • 2020: on Kerry O'Neill, ‘Conditional Cash Transfers as Third-Party Exploitation’, Public Issues and Public Reason: A Conference of Applied Ethics and Critical Social Sciences, Carleton University (Canada), 20-21 October
Event Organisation
Public Engagement & Outreach

I have been involved in policy engagement with civil society bodies and the UK Government. For example, I co-wrote a submission to the UK Government’s April 2021 consultation on proposed reforms to the Flood Re insurance scheme (with David SchultzLink opens in a new window at the University of Manchester). I have also given evidence to the UK Parliament’s Risk Assessment and Risk Planning Committee on resilience to extreme risks and emergencies. I was on an international team of scientists who co-authored a short background paper on the seismic vulnerabilities of 'soft story' and non-ductile buildings, for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERILink opens in a new window). My report on flood risk and housing was reprinted in a policy pamphletLink opens in a new window for the Young Fabians.

I do other kinds of outreach work, often in interdisciplinary contexts. Unusually for a political theorist, I was a judge for the 2021 Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition run by EERI. This involved dozens of engineering students representing universities from around the world. In August 2021, I delivered taster courses in Politics, Philosophy & Law for the Sutton Trust Summer SchoolLink opens in a new window, aimed at secondary school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Teaching

I have teaching interests in politics, philosophy, law, environmental studies and the history of political thought.

I was a WinnerLink opens in a new window in the 2021 Warwick Awards for Teaching Excellence for Postgraduate Researchers.

Other Writing
Service

I have previously been a member of the Critical International and Political Studies (CRIPS) Graduate Working Group. I currently sit on the PAIS PhD Student-Staff Liaison Committee and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute’s Younger Members Committee.

Qualifications
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Social Science Research (Warwick)
  • MA in Transnational Studies (UCL)
  • BA in PPE with Study Year Abroad (Warwick)
  • Certificat d'Études Politiques (Sciences Po Grenoble, France)