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Christopher Nathan


Research Fellow

Email: C dot M dot J dot Nathan at warwick dot ac dot uk
Room: E2.25


I am a research fellow at Warwick working on projects on security and technology. I am currently working on a Leverhulme project on 'Anthropogenic Global Catastrophic Risk'. Previously at Warwick I have been involved with the EU Horizon 2020 project on responsibility in research and innovation entitled 'Prisma', the ESRC Global Uncertainties fellowship, the European FP7 project SURVEILLE, the ESRC project Assuming Identities Online, and the ESRC Integrator programme on Ethics and Rights in a Security Context.


Journal articles

Liability to Deception and Manipulation: The Ethics of Undercover Policing’. Journal of Applied Philosophy 34(3), 370-388, May 2017

Principles of Policing and Principles of Punishment’ (Legal Theory, Volume 22: 3-4, December 2016)

Bureaucratic Respectful Equality’. European Journal of Political Theory, published online August 2016. With a reply by Ian Carter in the same journal

What is Basic Equality?’, 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?’, 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.


The Ethics of Undercover Policing (provisional title, under contract with Routledge)

Asbtract: 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.

Selected working papers

'Incorporating Responsibility into the Proportionality of Intrusive Investigations'

'Life Cycle Assessment and Value Judgments'

Other publications

'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)

Selected events organised

2018 ‘Innovation Society Can Trust’, public event for technologists, entrepreneurs, consultants, and academics. London. June 7th

2018 ‘Ethics and Innovation’, seminar for leading academics in the fields of technology and business ethics. Warwick. 28th March.

2017 Dialogues on technology ethics. For technologists and academics interested in ‘responsible innovation’. Brussels. 12th April

2016 ‘Ethical Issues in Undercover Policing’, for academics, journalists, activists, and NGOs (at College of Policing)

2016 ‘The Limits of States: Ethics, War, and Migration’, London, 28th June (ESRC)

2016 Workshop on Intelligence Ethics, Warwick, 6th May

2016 ‘Technology, Democracy, and Security’, University of Hong Kong, 11th April (ESRC)

2016 ‘Masterclass on the Ethics of Cyberwarfare’

2016 ‘Citizens Online’, London, 17th February (ESRC)

Selected presentations

2017 ‘Stop and Search and Risk-Imposition: Distributing Preventive Justice’. Society for Applied Philosophy, 20th June

2016 ‘Proportionate Intrusions’. Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Canberra. 14th April

2016 ‘Collateral Intrusion and Suspicionless Surveillance’. Oxford Internet Institute, 11th March

2015 ‘Liability to Deception and Manipulation’. CAPPE Seminar, Charles Sturt University, Canberra, 12th August

2015 ‘What is Terrorism?’. Widening Participation presentation for potential applicants to Warwick

2014 ‘What is Wrong with Fishing Expeditions?’. College of Policing Senior Members’ Masterclass on Ethics and Big Data. 2nd July