Gideon Elford

Departmental Lecturer in Politics
Political Theory Network
New College

Research summary

Much of my research concerns equality and agency. In that vein a part of my work involves exploring and defending a form of egalitarianism which judges all inequalities in some respect unfair unless they are appropriately related to the choices persons make. Some of this has consisted in reflecting on the conditions under which it is appropriate to hold persons responsible for their choices; more specifically, asking when the responsible choices persons make justify their being worse off than others. Another closely related part of my work involves considering different ways of conceptualising the value of equality and exploring how they related to one another.

My most recent research concerns freedom of expression. I am especially interested in the ways in which freedom of expression can be threatened by sources other than state regulation. At present I am developing an account of the freedom-restricting effects of social penalties on expression. Part of this involves thinking about the responsibilities we may have to refrain from imposing expression-related social penalties and countering the impact they can have on freedom of expression.


My research interests include:

Political Theory, Political thought and ideologies, Rights, Justice, and Equality, Freedom and Choice, International ethics and global justice, Liberalism



Introduction to the Theory of Politics (prelims paper), Theory of Politics (core finals paper), Plato to Rousseau (finals paper)


Political Theory (core MPhil class), Reasoning in Political Philosophy (methods MPhil class), Ethics (methods MPhil class), Research Design Preparation (MPhil/MSc/PRS class)


Raood Ahmed (MPhil)

Thomas Gould (MPhil)

Athol Williams (DPhil)

Gideon Elford


Fairness, Costs and Procreative Justice (Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, forthcoming)

Social Coercion and Freedom of Expression (Legal Theory 2021)

Legitimacy, Hate Speech and Viewpoint Discrimination (Journal of Moral Philosophy, 2020)

When is Inequality Fair? (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2018) 

The Coherence of Luck Egalitarianism (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2017) 

Relational Equality and Distribution (Journal of Political Philosophy 2017)

'Discrimination and Education' in K. Lippert-Rasmussen (ed.) Routledge Handbook to Discrimination

The Symmetry of Responsibilty (Journal of Social Philosophy 2016)

Preserving fairness: Williams against Cohen on just inequality (Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 2016)

Social Class, Merit and Equality of Opportunity in Education (Res Publica 2016)

Pains of Perseverance: Agent-Centred Prerogatives, Burdens and the Limits of Human Motivation (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2015)

Men Who Would Be Kings: Choice, Inequality, and Counterfactual Responsibility (Social Theory and Practice 2012)

Equality of Status and Distributive Equality (The Journal of Value Inquiry 2012)

Reclaiming Two Concepts of Liberty (Philosophy Politics and Economics 2012)

Equality, Choice and Alternatives: Why Reasonable Avoidability Matters (Ethical Perspectives 2012)

Equality of Opportunity and Other-Affecting Choice: Why Luck Egalitarianism Does Not Require Brute Luck Equality (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2011)