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John Keown

College positions:
Visiting Fellow
Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University
Contact details:

Professor John Keown

John Keown is a Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, where he holds the Rose F Kennedy Chair in Christian Ethics.  

Born in Manchester, England, he graduated in law from Cambridge (Queens’) and took a DPhil at Oxford (Linacre). His doctoral thesis, published in the Cambridge History of Medicine series, concerned the legal and medical history of abortion.

Before emigrating to the US he was University Senior Lecturer in the Law and Ethics of Medicine in the Faculty of Law at Cambridge, where he was an Official Fellow in Law at Queens’ and later a Senior Research Fellow at Churchill.

He has produced seven books and many articles, mainly on law and ethics at the beginning and end of life.  His research has been cited by distinguished bodies worldwide, including the US Supreme Court, the Law Lords and the Court of Appeal.

In 2015 he was made a Doctor of Civil Law by the University of Oxford for his contribution to law and bioethics. In 2023 he was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.

He is currently working on a project concerning the law and ethics of withdrawing life-prolonging treatment from seriously ill infants when doctors and parents disagree. The project focuses on a line of controversial cases decided by the English courts in recent years including the Charlie Gard case.

During his Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall he will be working on a project on ethics and the American War of Independence, building on a paper he wrote on the subject published in 2009 which has prompted a lively debate.