Piers Norris Turner

Piers Norris Turner 2021

Piers Norris Turner

Associate Professor & PPE Coordinator; Director, Center for Ethics and Human Values



368 University Hall
230 N Oval Mall
Columbus, OH

Google Map

Areas of Expertise

  • Political Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • John Stuart Mill


  • Ph.D. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2009
  • M.A. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2004
  • M.Sc. London School of Economics and Political Science, 1998
  • B.A. Yale University, 1997

Piers Norris Turner is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and (by courtesy) Political Science, and Director of the Center for Ethics and Human Values (CEHV). He is also a faculty coordinator for the new interdisciplinary major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, serves on the faculty advisory board of the Sustainability Institute, and is an active participant in the OSU Political Theory Workshop.

His research focuses on liberal political thought, open societies, and utilitarianism -- especially in the moral and political philosophy of John Stuart Mill. He has published articles in a number of leading journals and is working on a manuscript entitled Mill’s Ethics for the Cambridge Elements of Ethics series. He has co-edited Public Reason in Political Philosophy: Classic Sources and Contemporary Commentaries (Routledge, 2018, with Jerry Gaus) and a collection of unpublished social and political writings by Karl Popper, called After The Open Society (Routledge, 2008, with Jeremy Shearmur).

Popper AOS volume
History of Public Reason book cover

For an overview of his research, his service work through CEHV, and the new undergraduate major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), listen to his interview on Ohio State's "Voices of Excellence" podcast.

Short and popular pieces:
"Piers Turner Explores the Many Interests of John Stuart Mill," an interview on Mill, CEHV, and the PPE major on the OSU "Voices of Excellence" podcast [Sept 2021]
"What We Owe to Each Other During a Pandemic," an interview with Curtis Jackson for the "Dear Ohio" podcast [Aug 2021]
An introduction to John Stuart Mill's theory of freedom of discussion on the PEA Soup philosophy blog [April 2021]
brief introduction to John Stuart Mill's moral and political philosophy
An interview about the ethics of sustainability for Ohio State's Sustainability Institute newsletter
reflection on the practical ethical aims of the founders of the journal Ethics, who were all publicly engaged philosophers

Mill's Utilitarianism
• “Rules and Right in Mill,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 53:4 (October 2015), 723-745 
• “Social Morality in Mill,” in Public Reason in Political Philosophy: Classical Sources and Contemporary Commentaries, eds. Piers Norris Turner and Gerald Gaus (Routledge, 2018), 375-400
• “The Rise of Liberal Utilitarianism: Bentham, Mill,” A Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy, ed. J.A. Shand (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019)
• “Punishment and Discretion in Mill’s Utilitarianism,” Utilitas 27:2 (June 2015), 165-178

Mill's Egalitarianism

• “John Stuart Mill on Luck and Distributive Justice,” The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Psychology of Luck, eds. Ian M. Church and Robert J. Hartman (Routledge, 2019), 80-93
• "Mill's Evolutionary Theory of Justice: Reflections on Persky," Utilitas 32:2 (June 2020), 131-146

Mill's Liberalism

• “‘Harm’ and Mill’s Harm Principle,” Ethics 124:2 (January 2014), 299-326
• “Authority, Progress, and the ‘Assumption of Infallibility’ in On Liberty,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 51:1 (January 2013), 93-117
• “The Absolutism Problem in On Liberty,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43:3 (December 2013), 322-340
• "Introduction: Updating Mill on Free Speech," Utilitas 33:2 (June 2021), 125-132
• "The Arguments of On Liberty: Mill's Institutional Designs," Nineteenth-Century Prose (Special Issue on J.S. Mill, ed. Sven Ove Hansson) 47:1  (Spring 2020), 121-156
• “Mill and Modern Liberalism,” in The Blackwell Companion to John Stuart Mill, eds. Christopher Macleod and Dale Miller (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016)
• “Mill and the Liberal Rejection of Legal Moralism,” History of Philosophy Quarterly 31:1 (January, 2015), 79-99

Public Reason

• “On Felix Adler’s ‘The Freedom of Ethical Fellowship,’” Ethics 125:1 (October 2014), 208-210. *An uncut version of this article, which calls for a return to public philosophy in the spirit of the founders of the journal Ethics, can be found here: "The Practical Aim of Ethics: ‘Ethical Societies’ as Models of Public Reason"
• “Social Morality in Mill,” in Public Reason in Political Philosophy: Classical Sources and Contemporary Commentaries, eds. Piers Norris Turner and Gerald Gaus (Routledge, 2018)

PPE logo
CEHV logo