Department Chair and Professor
Dr. Jessica Wolfendale’s primary research focus is the ethics of political violence and the moral psychology of state-sponsored violence. Her work explores the intersection between philosophical theories of political violence, such as just war theory, and the institutions, moral justifications, and social and political narratives that sustain state violence and assist perpetrators of state violence in reconciling their actions with a positive self-image. She has published extensively on terrorism, the ethics of torture, security, military ethics, and war crimes. Her most recent book, War Crimes: Causes, Excuses, and Blame (coauthored with Matthew Talbert) was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. She is currently working on a book project on the toleration of torture and terrorism in the criminal justice and national security contexts.
In addition to her work on political violence, Professor Wolfendale works on issues of social justice and moral responsibility, looking at how social and political narratives frame the capacities (such as the capacity for self-control) of disadvantaged groups and utilize emotions like resentment to police social and economic boundaries. She is developing these themes in two papers, co-authored with Professor Jeanette Kennett from Macquarie University, Australia.
Ph.D., Monash University, Australia
Ethics, Moral Psychology, Military Ethics