INTACT at Oxford Literary Festival

I’ll be discussing INTACT at the Oxford Literary Festival on 26th March 2022. You can buy tickets here.

Philosopher Clare Chambers argues that it is time for men, women and children to reclaim their bodies and that an unmodified body is a key principle of social and political equality.
Chambers ranges across a variety of areas from bodybuilding to makeup, male circumcision, breast implants, motherhood and childbirth. She argues that social pressure to modify your body sends a message that you are not good enough, and it reinforces inequalities of sex, gender, race, disability, age, and class.
Chambers is professor of political philosophy and a fellow of Jesus College in Cambridge. She is regarded as one of the most original philosophers in the UK today and is a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. She is author of
Against Marriage and specialises in feminism, bioethics, contemporary liberalism, and theories of social justice.

INTACT at Cambridge Literary Festival

I’ll be discussing INTACT with Rachel Cunliffe of The New Statesman at the Cambridge Literary Festival on 23 April 2022. You can buy tickets here.

In the hit BBC TV series ‘Fleabag’, a feminist asks a room-full of young women whether they would trade five years of their life for the so-called ‘perfect body’. In this rousing talk, best-selling author and political philosopher Clare Chambers makes a passionate case for why loving the body we were born with is a radical act. Arguing that our choices – even the most personal ones – are not made in a cultural vacuum, Clare illuminates how ingrained sexist norms, ageism and social media distort our perceptions of our selves.

Beyond Marriage: Philosophy, Politics, Law

I am the convenor of this international and interdisciplinary conference held in Cambridge in May 2019.

There have been significant changes to the institution of marriage in recent years, with many countries introducing same-sex marriage, civil partnerships, and other forms of non-traditional union. For some, marriage is a central institution that must be protected, for others it is inevitably unjust and should be abolished.

This conference will bring together academics and practitioners from philosophy, politics, and law to debate what lies beyond marriage. The programme includes:

Dr Rebecca Steinfeld, claimant in Steinfeld and Keidan v. Secretary of State, “The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign”

Tim Loughton MP, “Equal Civil Partnerships in the House of Commons”

Andrew Harrop, General Secretary, Fabian Society, “Marriage and the Left”

Jo Miles, Law, University of Cambridge, “Against Civil Partnership”

Prof Robert Wintemute, Law, King’s College London, “Equal Choices for All Couples:  From Same-Sex Civil Partnership to Equal Marriage to Steinfeld & Keidan”.

Prof Lori Watson, Philosophy, San Diego University, “Polygamy and Equality”

Dr Samia Bano, Law, SOAS, “Muslim Marriage in the UK”

Dr Clare Chambers, Philosophy, University of Cambridge, “The Marriage-Free State”

Prof Elizabeth Brake, Philosophy, Arizona State University, “Minimal Marriage”

Dr Jude Browne, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Cambridge
Prof Ralph Wedgwood, Philosophy, University of Southern California
Dr Findlay Stark, Law, University of Cambridge
Dr Tom Dougherty, Philosophy, University of Cambridge

You can read more about the conference here.

Against Marriage at Bigg Books

I’ll be talking on Against Marriage in the Bigg Books speaker series in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne on 20 November 2018. You can find more details here.

Clare Chambers is Reader in Political Philosophy at University of Cambridge. She is a political philosopher specializing in feminist philosophy, contemporary liberalism, theories of social justice, and social construction. She will argue for the abolition of state-recognised marriage on the grounds that it violates both equality and liberty, even when expanded to include same-sex couples. Instead she will defend the idea of a the marriage-free state: an egalitarian state in which religious or secular marriages are permitted but have no legal status.

Clare Chambers’s award-winning book Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defense of the Marriage-Free State was published last year by Oxford University Press (

Venue: Lit and Phil, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Against Marriage at Festival of Ideas

I talked about Against Marriage at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on Monday 15th October 2018, in the Frankopan Hall of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Many states have recently expanded their definition of marriage to allow marriage between same-sex couples: a welcome move towards equality, but does this go far enough? Philosopher Clare Chambers argues for a more extreme position: that the state should not recognise marriage at all. State recognition of marriage, she will argue, is a violation of both equality and liberty – no matter how marriage is redefined.

Tickets were sold out and so the talk was live-streamed. You can watch it on youtube here:

Neutrality at University of Edinburgh

I presented my paper “Reasonable disagreement and the neutralist dilemma: Abortion and circumcision in Matthew Kramer’s Liberalism with Excellence” at the University of Edinburgh in March 2018. You can read their account of the session on the Just World Institute blog here.

The Politics of Marriage at LSE Forum

Marriage is an odd mix of sex, religion, and politics. Our speakers ask what marriage is and whether there is there any distinctive moral value in it. Should the state promote it? Is it possible to have an ‘equal’ marriage, or is marriage fundamentally an oppressive institution? Should marriage be rejected in favour of civil partnerships, or something else, or perhaps nothing else?

You can watch a video of the event and listen to the podcast here.

Clare Chambers
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Sir Paul Coleridge
Former high court judge and Chairman, The Marriage Foundation

Peter Tatchell
Activist and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation


Sarah Fine

Fellow, The Forum
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, King’s College London

Seminar in Contemporary Political Thought

Seminar in Contemporary Political Thought

Convened by Dr Clare Chambers (Philosophy) and Dr Duncan Bell (POLIS)
University of Cambridge

Michaelmas Term 2017

All sessions are held on Fridays at 1 – 2.30pm in the Bawden Room of Jesus College. This is in West Court, which can be accessed either via the main entrance of Jesus College or directly from Jesus Lane.

Refreshments will be served at the close of formal proceedings. There are no precirculated papers and all are welcome.

6 Oct: Tom Shakespeare, University of East Anglia: “The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: making use of the stilts?”

20 Oct: Avia Pasternak and Jeff Howard, UCL: “Criminal Acccountability, Restorative Justice, and the Moral Standing of States”

3 Nov: Katrin Flikschuh, LSE: “Philosophical Racism”

17 Nov: Bernardo Zacka, University of Cambridge: “When the Rules Run Out: Informal Taxonomies at the Front Lines of Public Service”

Lent Term 2018

All seminars will be held in Upper Hall, Jesus College. Please note that this is a different room from that used by the Seminar in MT. Upper Hall is in the old part of Jesus College, enter via the Porters’ Lodge.

The seminars are held on Fridays at 1 – 2.30pm, followed by refreshments. There are no pre-circulated papers and all are welcome.

**Please note also that the third Seminar this term deviates from the fortnightly pattern, to accommodate a speaker coming from overseas.**

19th January: Cecile Laborde, University of Oxford. “Liberal Egalitarianism and the Critique of Religion”

2nd February: Heather Widdows, University of Birmingham. Title TBC.

9th February (NOTE DATE): Sam Moyn, Yale University. “The Doctor’s Plot: How Philosophizing Human Rights Began”

2nd March: Herjeet Marway, University of Birmingham. “Procreative Justice and Genetic Selection for Non-Disease Traits: The Case of Fair Skin”

Seminar in Contemporary Political Thought

imagesLent Term 2017

All seminars this term will be held in JESUS COLLEGE, in the Prioress’s Room. Please note that this is NOT the same college as last term. Moreover, long-standing seminar members should not that this is NOT the usual room in Jesus College. The seminar will be signposted.
As usual the seminars take place at alternate Fridays at 1pm – 2.30pm, with refreshments served at the close of formal proceedings. There is no pre-circulated paper and all are welcome.
20th Jan: Dana Mills, University of Oxford. “The Dancer of the Future from a Socialist Point of View: Eleanor Marx, Isadora Duncan, and Choreographing Socialist Feminism”

3rd Feb: Herjeet Marway, University of Birmingham. “Should we genetically select for the beauty feature of fair skin? Procreative Beneficence versus Procreative Justice.”

17th Feb: Chris Armstrong, University of Southampton. “Institutions, Growth, and Global Justice”

3rd March: David Runciman, University of Cambridge. “States, Corporations, Robots”

Seminar in Contemporary Political Thought

imagesSeminar in Contemporary Political Thought

Michaelmas Term 2016

Convenors: Dr John Filling (Philosophy) and Dr Paul Sagar (POLIS).

Seminars will be held in the Audit Room, King’s College


7th October: Dr Timothy Fowler, University of Bristol

Political Liberalism, Science, and Faith: The Case of Intelligent Design

21st October: Dr Robert Jubb, University of Reading

Civil Disobedience and the Disaggregation of Political Authority

4th November: TBC

 18th November: Dr Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, Warwick University

The Doctrine of Gender Identity – A Critical Examination

Genital Autonomy Conference

cir_genitalintegrity_internlsymbolI had a profoundly moving and informative time listening and speaking at the Genital Autonomy 14th Annual Symposium on Changing Global Perceptions: Child Protection & Bodily Autonomy. The Symposium was at Keele University on 14-16 September 2016. You can find details of the Symposium here. My talk was titled “Cultural v. Cosmetic v. Clinical Surgery: Challenging the Distinction.”

There is a general consensus in liberal theory, practice, and law that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a violation of rights and justice that should be banned. However, there is no such consensus about male circumcision or cosmetic surgery, including labiaplasty. These practices are legal in most liberal states and there is no general critique of them in mainstream liberal theory. This talk will consider the philosophical reasons in favour of distinguishing FGM from male circumcision and labiaplasty, and find them wanting. Both cosmetic and clinical surgeries are fundamentally cultural. I argue that male circumcision and cosmetic surgery should be regulated in the same way as FGM – which means, among other things, much stricter regulations on when such surgeries can be performed on children.

Seminar in Contemporary Political Thought LT 2016

University-Cambridge-logo.jpg.pagespeed.ce.XYF4Slmu5oAll sessions are held in the Coleridge Room of Jesus College, Cambridge at 1-2.30pm.

15th January

Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University
Anarchist Feminism/Anarchism and Feminism: Waves, Exclusions and Intersections

29th January

Catherine Lu, McGill University
Reparations and Historic Injustice

12th February

Alan Finlayson, University of East Anglia
Parody and Political Speech

26th February

Mihaela Mihai, University of Edinburgh
The Art of Solidarity

Seminar in Contemporary Political Thought (MT 2015)

University-Cambridge-logo.jpg.pagespeed.ce.XYF4Slmu5oThe seminars will take place on Fridays between 1.00-2.30pm in the Coleridge Room, Jesus College. All are welcome.

Convenors: Dr Clare Chambers (Philosophy) and Dr Duncan Bell (POLIS)


9th October

Adam Swift, Warwick University,
Family Values

 23rd October

Jonathan Wolff, University College London
Forms of Differential Social Inclusion

6th November

Marc Stears, University of Oxford & Former Chief Speechwriter for Ed Miliband
It’s Not Just the Politics That are Missing:Realist Political Theory and the Everyday

 20th November

Lea Ypi, London School of Economics
Revolutionary Partisanship


David Miller Conference

10645217_10100822349433872_8133711624700875152_nI was neither an organiser or paper-giver at this conference for David Miller in May 2015, but I was honoured and delighted to give a toast to David, who supervised my DPhil with Lois McNay. Thanks to Chris Bertram for the photo, and to Dan Butt, Sarah Fine and Zofia Stemplowska for organising the conference.