University of Otago emblem    Philosophy


photo of Ellis
Director, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Programme
  • PhD Berkeley (1999)
  • MA Berkeley (1992)
  • BA Princeton (1990)
  • office: 2C14, second floor, central corridor, Burns Building, 95 Albany Street
  • phone: +64 (0)3 479 8727
  • email:


Elisabeth Ellis is a political theorist who teaches ethics, environmental philosophy, and philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of Otago. She is the author of Kant’s Politics: Provisional Theory for an Uncertain World (2005) and Provisional Politics: Kantian Arguments in Policy Context (2008); she has also edited a volume of essays, Kant’s Political Theory: Interpretations and Applications (2012). Her report for the Deep South National Science Challenge, “How Should We Share the Risks of Sea-Level Rise?”, was released in December of 2018. She is also writing about the collective ethics of flying (with James Higham and James Maclaurin), the human value of biodiversity loss, and the ethics of invasive pest management. Other recent projects include a defense of majoritarianism in environmental politics (2016), a reception history of Hobbes’s political thought (2010) and associate editorship of the Encyclopedia of Political Thought (2016). Her work has been supported by many agencies, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst. She is currently curating the December 2020 issue of the Australasian Philosophical Review.

Read about Lisa’s recent work: Newsroom, “Playing chicken with the government”; Stuff, “Beach Road”; Stuff, “Climate Myths Debunked”

Hear about Lisa’s recent work: Dialogues podcast from Snodger Media; Radio New Zealand, “Sea-Level Rise Threat”; Lisa talks to Jesse Mulligan on RNZ Afternoons