Jesse Kirkpatrick

 Assistant Director

JK-LargeAreas of Specialization

Political philosophy, moral philosophy, the ethics of peace and war, human rights


Jesse Kirkpatrick is a Research Assistant Professor, the Assistant Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University, and a Politico-Military Analyst, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory. Dr. Kirkpatrick is an expert on the just war tradition, the study of emerging military technologies, counterinsurgency, asymmetric warfare, and biosecurity. In his capacity as a Politico-Military Analyst, he performs empirical research in these subject areas. His work has appeared in numerous journals including, Ethics; Journal of Military Ethics; Journal of Human Rights; Special Warfare Magazine. His current book, Drones, Robots, and Super Soldiers: Emerging Technologies and Military Virtue, is under contract by Harvard University Press.

Jesse received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, where he was awarded a Hoobler Fellowship for his work on postconflict justice and public policy. Prior to joining the Institute, Jesse was an Assistant Professor at Radford University and a Research Fellow at the US Naval Academy. 

Current Grant-Supported Projects 

Jesse is currently the Principal Investigator for two sponsored projects. 

Jesse and Dr. Gregory Koblentz, director of GMU's biodefense graduate program, are working with leading researchers from Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation on a 20 month project: CRISPR and Biosecurity: Assessing Risks, Benefits, and Governance Options of New Genome Editing Tools. You can learn all about the study on the project's website  

For a second year in a row, the National Endowment for the Humanities is supporting the Coming Home project, which engages veterans in dialogues on the moral, psychological, and spiritual impacts of war. Jesse co-directs the project in partnership with Dr. Edward Barrett of the US Naval Academy.

Recent Press 

Watch Jesse discuss autonomous vehicles on Fox5 News. 

Kirkpatrick writes on drones and moral injury and ethics and self-driving cars at Slate magazine. 

Jesse weigh's in on Canada's potential purchase of armed drones. 

Check out the address that Andrew Light and Jesse gave on October 28, 2015 to the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Gene Drive Research in Non-Human Organisms. 

Selected Publications


Drones, Robots, and Super Soldiers: Emerging Technologies and Military Virtue (under contract, Harvard University Press)

Pinczuk,Guillermo, Mike Deane, and Jesse Kirkpatrick. Case Studies in Insurgency and Revolutionary WarfareSri Lanka (1976-2009), The United States Army Special Operations Command and the Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory, (2015).


“Drones and the Martial Virtue Courage,” Journal of Military Ethics, 14(3).

“Kirkpatrick’s Reply to Sparrow,” Journal of Military Ethics, 14(3).

“A Retrospective Essay: John MacCunn’s ‘Cosmopolitan Duties,’” Ethics, 125(1).

“A Modest Proposal: A Global Court for Human Rights,” Journal of Human Rights, 13(2).

Book Chapters

Kirkpatrick, Jesse, Hanh, Erin and Amy Haufler. “Trust in Human-Robot Interactions,” in Patrick Lin, George Bekey, Keith Abney, and Ryan Jenkins (eds.) Robot Ethics 2.0. Oxford University Press. (forthcoming)

“A Global Human Rights Court?” in Gordon DiGiacomo & Susan Kang (eds.) The Institutions of Human Rights: Development and Practices. University of Toronto Press. (forthcoming)

Kirkpatrick, Jesse and Sarah Welch Denton. “The Future of War and Terrorism” in Bess, Michael and Diana Walsh Pasulka (eds.) Human, Transhuman, Posthuman: Emerging Technologies and the Boundaries of Homo Sapiens, Cengage Press. (forthcoming)

“Drones and State Responsibility,” in Di Nucci, Ezio and Filippo Santoni de Sio (eds.) Drones and Responsibility: Legal, Philosophical and Socio-Technical Perspectives on the Use of Remotely Controlled Weapons. Ashgate Publishing (2016).


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