Photo of Kit Wellman

Kit Wellman

Dean of Academic Planning
​Professor of Philosophy
Chair of Education
PhD, University of Arizona
research interests:
  • Ethics
  • Political and Legal Philosophy

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • Campus Box 1073
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
image of book cover

​Professor Wellman works in ethics, specializing in political and legal philosophy. He serves as chair of the education department and is dean of academic planning for Arts & Sciences.

Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude?

Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude?

Do states have the right to prevent potential immigrants from crossing their borders, or should people have the freedom to migrate and settle wherever they wish? Christopher Heath Wellman and Phillip Cole develop and defend opposing answers to this timely and important question. In addition to engaging with each other's arguments, Wellman and Cole address a range of central questions and prominent positions on this topic. The authors therefore provide a critical overview of the major contributions to the ethics of migration, as well as developing original, provocative positions of their own.

A Liberal Theory of International Justice

A Liberal Theory of International Justice

A Liberal Theory of International Justice advances a novel theory of international justice that combines the orthodox liberal notion that the lives of individuals are what ultimately matter morally with the putatively antiliberal idea of an irreducibly collective right of self-governance. The individual and her rights are placed at center stage insofar as political states are judged legitimate if they adequately protect the human rights of their constituents and respect the rights of all others. Yet, the book argues that legitimate states have a moral right to self-determination and that this right is inherently collective, irreducible to the individual rights of the persons who constitute them.

A Theory of Secession: The Case for Political Self-Determination

A Theory of Secession: The Case for Political Self-Determination

Offering an unapologetic defense of the right to secede, Christopher Heath Wellman argues that any group has a moral right to secede as long as its political divorce will leave it and the remainder state in a position to perform the requisite political functions. He explains that there is nothing contradictory about valuing legitimate states, while permitting their division. Thus, if one values self-determination, then one has good reason to conclude that people have a right to determine their political boundaries.

Is There a Duty to Obey the Law?

Is There a Duty to Obey the Law?

The central question in political philosophy is whether political states have the right to coerce their constituents and whether citizens have a moral duty to obey the commands of their state. In this 2005 book, Christopher Heath Wellman and A. John Simmons defend opposing answers to this question. Wellman bases his argument on samaritan obligations to perform easy rescues, arguing that each of us has a moral duty to obey the law as his or her fair share of the communal samaritan chore of rescuing our compatriots from the perils of the state of nature. Simmons counters that this, and all other attempts to explain our duty to obey the law, fail. He defends a position of philosophical anarchism, the view that no existing state is legitimate and that there is no strong moral presumption in favor of obedience to, or compliance with, any existing state.