University of Otago emblem    Department of Philosophy


photo of Ellis
Director, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Programme
  • PhD Berkeley (1999)
  • MA Berkeley (1992)
  • BA Princeton (1990)


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). Ellis’s current book project, Extinction and Democracy, asks how democratic practices interact with species conservation policies. She is also writing about the collective ethics of flying (with James Higham and James Maclaurin), the human value of biodiversity loss, and the principled distribution of the risk of sea level rise. 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 the Deep South National Science Challenge, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, and the Ray A. Rothrock '77 Fellowship. She is currently serving as political theory field editor for the Journal of Politics and curating the December 2020 issue of the Australasian Philosophical Review.