portrait of me by Caspar.jpg

About Me

I’m an Associate Professor at the ANU, head of the School of Philosophy, lead CI on the ARC grant ‘Ethics and Risk’, and project lead of the Humanising Machine Intelligence Grand Challenge Program.

I write on topics in political philosophy, and normative and applied ethics. I have two current research projects.

The first focuses on how those who care about rights and duties can make decisions under risk and uncertainty. I’m working on a book, to come out with Oxford University Press, called Duty Under Doubt: Deontological Decision-Making with Imperfect Information.

My second project, which I have started this year, on Humanising Machine Intelligence. I’m project leader of a major $8m investment by ANU in developing a more ethical future for machine intelligence, and am thrilled to be working with some of the university’s leading computer scientists, philosophers, and social scientists on one of the most important problems of our age. Read about that at hmi.anu.edu.au

In my first book, Sparing Civilians (Oxford, 2015), I tried to preserve the protection of civilians in war against political and philosophical threats that have arisen in recent years. The book is the subject of a symposium in Law and Philosophy, available online now. 

I've published papers in many top journals, including Ethics (2009, 2015, 2017), Philosophy & Public Affairs (2010, 2012, 2018), Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2015), Nous (2017), Philosophical Quarterly (2018), Philosophical Studies (2017), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy (2017), and others. See 'Research' for more. I'm also an Area Editor at Ergo, an editor of Philosophers' Imprint, and on the editorial board of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy

I'm also a photographer. All the pictures on this site are my own (except the portrait—that's by Caspar Hare). You can see more of my photos here. Sometimes the nice people at Samyang send me lenses to play with. You can see those pictures here. I exhibit my night sky work, which you can also buy here.




c2021   Duty Under Doubt: Deontological Decision-Making with Imperfect Information, under contract with Oxford University Press

2015     Sparing Civilians. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

            Symposium on Sparing Civiliansonline now in Law and Philosophy.

Edited Volumes and Symposia

2018     The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Co-Editor, with Helen Frowe). 

2017     Symposium on Ethics and Decision Theory. Ethics(guest editor), accepted 12/10/2016

2014     The Morality of Defensive War. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Co-Editor, with Cécile Fabre)

2011      Symposium on Jeff McMahan's Killing in War. Ethics(guest editor)

Journal Articles

2019     ‘Duty and Doubt', Journal of Practical Ethics, accepted 3/11/2018

2019     ‘Deontological Decision Theory and the Grounds of Subjective Permissibility’, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, accepted 22/10/2018

2019     ‘Self-Ownership and Agent-Centred Options’, Social Philosophy and Policy, accepted 26/8/2018

2019     'Accommodating Options', Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 100/1, 233-255

2019    ‘Moral Status and Agent-Centred Options’, Utilitas, 31/1, 83-105

2019     'Axiological Absolutism and Risk' (with Chad Lee-Stronach), Noûs, 53/1, 97-113

2018     'Limited Aggregation and Risk', Philosophy & Public Affairs, 46/2, 117-159

2018     'Moral Sunk Costs', Philosophical Quarterly, 68/273, 841-861

2018     'Strengthening Moral Distinction' (response to symposium on Sparing Civilians), Law and Philosophy, 37/3, 327-349

2018     'In Dubious Battle: Uncertainty and the Ethics of Killing', Philosophical Studies, 175/4, 859-883

2017     'Risky Killing: How Risks Worsen Violations of Objective Rights', Journal of Moral Philosophy, 16/1, 1-26

2017     'Deontological Decision Theory and Agent-Centred Options', Ethics, 127/3, 579-609

2017     'Response: Limiting Defensive Rights', Journal of Applied Philosophy, 34/1, 19-23

2017     'Proxy Battles in Just War Theory: Jus in Bello, the Site of Justice, and Feasibility Constraints' (with Laura Valentini), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, volume 3

2017     'Evaluating the Revisionist Critique of Just War Theory', Daedalus, 146/1, 113-124

2017     'Just War Theory: Revisionists Vs Traditionalists', Annual Review of Political Science, 20, 37-54

2017     'Anton's Game: Deontological Decision Theory for an Iterated Decision Problem', Utilitas, 29/1, 88-109

2016     'Complicity, Collectives, and Killing in War', Law and Philosophy, 35/4, 365-389

2016     'The Justification of Associative Duties', Journal of Moral Philosophy, 13/1, 28-55

2016     'Authorization and the Morality of War', Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 94/2, 211-226

2015     'Risky Killing and the Ethics of War', Ethics, 126/1, 91-117

2015     'Authority, Oaths, Contracts, and Uncertainty in War', Thought, 4/1, 52–58

2014     'Necessity and Noncombatant Immunity', Review of International Studies, 40/1, 53-76

2013     'Associative Duties and the Ethics of Killing in War', Journal of Practical Ethics, 1/1, 3-48

2012     'Necessity in Self-Defense and War', Philosophy & Public Affairs, 40/1, 3-44

2011      'Introduction', Ethics, 122/1, 8-9

2010     'A Liberal Defence of (Some) Duties to Compatriots', Journal of Applied Philosophy, 27/3,  246-257

2010     'The Responsibility Dilemma for Killing in War: A Review Essay', Philosophy & Public Affairs, 38/2, 180-213

2009    'Responsibility, Risk, & Killing in Self-Defense', Ethics, 119/4, 699-728

2009    'Debate: Do Associative Duties Really Not Matter?', Journal of Political Philosophy, 17/1, 90-101

2009    'The Nature & Disvalue of Injury', Res Publica, 15/3, 289-304

2008    'Corrective Justice & the Possibility of Rectification', Ethical Theory & Moral Practice, 11/4, 355–68 

Chapters in Peer-Reviewed Edited Volumes

2018     'The Ethics of War', (with Helen Frowe) The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War,Seth Lazar & Helen Frowe (eds.), New York: Oxford University Press. 

2018     'Method in the Morality of War', The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War,Seth Lazar & Helen Frowe (eds.), New York: Oxford University Press. 

2016     'War', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Zalta (ed.), Spring 2016 edition: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/war/

2016     'War's Endings and the Structure of Just War Theory', The Ethics of War,Sam Rickless and Saba Bazargan (eds.), New York: Oxford University Press

2016     'Travel, Friends, and Killing', in Philosophers Take on the World, Edmonds (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 25-27

2016     'The Associativist Account of the Ethics of War', Global Political Theory, David Held and Pietro Maffettone (eds.), Cambridge: Polity, 158-179

2016     'Liability and the Ethics of War: A Reply to Strawser and McMahan', The Ethics of Self-Defence, Coons and Weber (ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, 292-304

2014     'National Defence, Self-Defence, and the Problem of Political Aggression', in The Morality of Defensive War, Lazar and Fabre (eds.),Oxford: Oxford University Press, 9-37

2013     'War', International Encyclopaedia of Ethics, Lafollette (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell (8000 words) 

2013     'Just War Theory', Oxford Companion to Comparative Politics, Joel Krieger (ed.), Oxford University Press (3,500 words)

2012     'Scepticism about Jus Post Bellum', Morality, Jus Post Bellum, and International Law" Larry May and Andrew Forcehimes (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 204-22

2012     'The Morality and Law of War', Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law, Andrei Marmor (ed.), London: Routledge, 364-79

Book Reviews

2014     Cécile Fabre's Cosmopolitan WarEthics,124:2, 406-412, (3,500 words)

2011     'War: Essays in Political Philosophy', Review, Mind, 120:479, 895-901 (3,000 words)

Other Outputs

2019     Public Submission (with Bob Williamson and the Australian Academy of Science) to the DIIS consultation on Australia's Ethical Framework for AI. 

2018     Invited Public Submission to Defense Innovation Board consultation on AI policy principles for the US Department of Defense. 

2016     'Should Civilians be Spared?' Examining Ethics, podcast available at http://examiningethics.org/2016/09/12-seth-lazar-sparing-civilians/.

2014     On Human Shields, Boston Reviewhttp://www.bostonreview.net/world/seth-lazar-human-shields 

2014     'Sparing Civilians in War' Philosophy Bites, interview by Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds. Released 19/7/2014. 85,613 downloads as of 12/7/16. 

2013     The Moral Responsibility of Volunteer Soldiers: Response to McMahan, Boston Reviewhttp://www.bostonreview.net/forum/moral-wounds/seth-lazar-moral-wounds-lazar

2012     'Seth Lazar on Self-Defense in War' Public Ethics Radio, Christian Barry (ed.), Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs


2016     Academy of Social Sciences of Australia Early Career Researcher Commendation

2011     American Philosophical Association Frank Chapman Sharp memorial prize for the best unpublished monograph on the philosophy of war & peace

Biennial prize ($1500). Awarded for monograph derived from unpublished chapters of thesis

2009    Res PublicaPostgraduate Essay Prize for 2008

Prize (£100) awarded for my paper 'The Nature & Disvalue of Injury'

2008    Society for Applied Philosophy Annual Conference Postgraduate Essay Prize

Prize (fees & expenses) awarded for paper 'Risk & Responsibility', judged best postgraduate essay

2007    Social Science Division Teaching Excellence Award (Category A)

£1500 award funded by Higher Education Funding Council for England, for outstanding teaching Only 5 awards in the department of politics, only one to graduate student

02-03   Harvard University, Frank Knox Fellowship

Scholarship totalling approx. $50,000 for year of study at Harvard

00-02  Wadham College, Schools Prize & Junior Scholarship

Prize for Wadham's highest ever mark in English final essay (84%). Scholarship for 1stin prelims.


2018     ANU Grand Challenge Program (Up to $8m)

'Humanising Machine Intelligence'. Project Lead. Other team members: Jenny Davis, Toni Erskine, Marcus Hutter, Colin Klein, Idione Meneghel, Katie Steele, Sylvie Thiébaux, Bob Williamson, Lexing Xie. For information see hmi.anu.edu.au 

2016     ARC DP17 Award ($335,000)

'Ethics and Risk'. Lead CI. Other CIs and PIs: Buchak (Berkeley); Steele (ANU); Hájek (ANU); Jackson (ANU); Pettit (ANU).  

2014     CASS Research Committee Conference Support ($12,000) (for 'Ethics and Probability')

2013     ARC DECRA13 Award (2013: $119,000, 2014: $122,000, 2015: $125,000)

'Justifying War'. Sole CI.

2013     CASS Short Term Visitor Grants ($5,000 and $2,500)(for work on DP15 proposal)

2013     RSSS Strategic Conference Support ($15,000) (for 'Feasibility and the Ethics of War')

2013     CASS Internal Grants Conference Support ($6,000) (for 'Feasibility and the Ethics of War')

2012     RSSS Conference Travel Award ($2500)(for travel—see below) 

2012     CASS Pilot Hub Award ($5,000)(for travel—see below)

06-10   John Fell OUP Research Fund Award, Department of Politics, Society for Applied Philosophy, Mind Association Major Conference Grant, (all together £8,000), Oxford University Vice-Chancellors' Fund Award (£1,650), Department of Politics, Cyril Foster, Winchester & Norman Chester Funds (£950), St Peter's College (£1,100)

05-08   Arts & Humanities Research Council, Doctoral Fellowship (c. £60,000)

04-06  St Peter's College & Department of Politics, Graduate Studentship (c. £20,000)