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Christopher Nathan


Honorary Research Fellow

Email: c dot m dot j dot nathan at warwick dot ac dot uk


I am an Honorary Research Fellow at Warwick, having previously worked on projects on security and technology, based in the Interdisciplinary Ethics Research GroupLink opens in a new window. I have been involved with the EU Horizon 2020 project on responsibility in research and innovation entitled 'Prisma'Link opens in a new window, the ESRC Global Uncertainties fellowshipLink opens in a new window, the European FP7 project SURVEILLELink opens in a new window, the ESRC project Assuming Identities OnlineLink opens in a new window, and the ESRC Integrator programme on Ethics and Rights in a Security Context,Link opens in a new window and a Leverhulme project on 'Anthropogenic Global Catastrophic RiskLink opens in a new window', investigating the governance and research culture surrounding new technologies.



The Ethics of Undercover Policing (Routledge, 2022)

Abstract: This book asks, What would a philosophically ideal undercover policing order look like? In the light of the above and other controversies, as well as ongoing legal and policy processes including the Undercover Policing Inquiry in the UK, it is urgent that this question is addressed. The book rejects the view that undercover work is inherently at odds with the police role, and it also rejects the view that undercover work can be justified by straightforwardly weighing its disvalue against its good consequences. Rather, it seems that some people can, through their actions, make themselves morally liable to intrusions and manipulations, while others — those who are innocent or uninvolved — are less liable or not liable at all. Although intuitive, this idea is surprisingly absent in key ways from both the political debate and governance structures relating to policing, and indeed that absence may partly explain some of the mistreatment of citizens by police in recent decades. The book examines the liability idea through the cleaner case of personal self-defence, bringing the recent sophisticated advances in the philosophical literature on the topic to bear upon policing practice. In doing so, the book argues for a new understanding of proportionality in undercover police work that takes due account of innocent parties, vulnerable targets, disclosure and manipulation into wrongful action. Further, the book uses this framework to defend a central role for the judiciary in the oversight structure of undercover police, a role that is currently absent or heavily curtailed in most jurisdictions.

Journal articles

The Ethics of Predictive Policing’ (co-author). Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics (OUP 2022)

'Global Catastrophic Risk and the Drivers of Scientist Attitudes Towards Policy' (co-author). Science and Engineering Ethics volume 28: 50 (2022)

'Policing the Gaps: Legitimacy, Special Obligations, and Omissions in Law Enforcement' (co-author). Criminal Law and Philosophy, March 2022

'Global policymakers and catastrophic risk' (co-author). Policy Sciences December 2021.

'Ethics of Policing'. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2021)

Life Cycle Assessment and Value JudgmentLink opens in a new window’ (co-author). NanoEthics volume 14, pages 271–283 (2020)

'Current Debates About the Ethics of New TechnologyLink opens in a new window' NanoEthics volume 14, pp. 241–243 (2020)

'Punishment the Easy WayLink opens in a new window.' Criminal Law and Philosophy (2020): 1-26.

'Learning to do responsible innovation in industry: six lessons' (co-author), Journal of Responsible Innovation, July 2020

Bureaucratic Respectful EqualityLink opens in a new windowEuropean Journal of Political Theory. Volume: 18: 4, October 2019. With a reply by Ian Carter in the same journal

Liability to Deception and Manipulation: The Ethics of Undercover PolicingLink opens in a new window’. Journal of Applied Philosophy 34(3), 370-388, May 2017. Reprinted in Professions in Ethical Focus, Second Edition, Broadview Press, 2021

Principles of Policing and Principles of PunishmentLink opens in a new window’ (Legal Theory, Volume 22: 3-4, December 2016)

What is Basic Equality?Link opens in a new window’, in Do All Persons Have Equal Moral Worth? On Basic Equality and Equal Respect and Concern (ed. Uwe Steinhoff, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

Need there be a Defence of Equality?Link opens in a new window’, Res Publica 17.3 (November 2011), 211-225.

Review of In the Beginning Was the Deed by Bernard Williams, Oxonian Review of Books (Spring 2006, 5:2), 12.

Other publications

'Responsible Innovation in Practice: Experiences from Industry' (2018) (PRISMA project Deliverable 2.4) (co-author)

'Corporate Social Responsibility vs. Responsible Innovation'. Blog post on Prisma (2018)

Video interview on life cycle assessment and algae oils (2018)

Report on Ethicists’ Views of Responsible Innovation (2018)

'Report on Undercover Policing Ethics Workshop' (co-author) (2016)

‘Bulk Collection: Case Studies’ (co-author) (2015)

'Literature on Cyberwarfare Ethics’ (co-author) (2015)