Rekha  Nath

Rekha Nath

Associate Professor


  • PhD, University of Melbourne
  • BA, University of Michigan


Dr. Nath specializes in social and political philosophy. She has published on topics concerning global justice, equality, and responsibility. Currently, she is working on a book on sizism. Typically, when our society thinks about fatness, we do so via the lens of the “obesity epidemic,” regarding fatness as a problem we should work to eradicate from our society. That dominant approach tends to obscure an important alternative approach to fatness, namely, an approach that views our attitudes and treatment of fatness as a social justice issue. The book offers a framework for theorizing about our society’s systematic imposition of social penalties on those who are fat as a social injustice, and it does so with an eye toward working to identify remedies to address this injustice.

Fall 2023 Office Hours:

Thursday – 12:30pm-2:00pm and by appointment


Selected Publications


  • “Obesity and Responsibility for Health” in Responsibility and Healthcare, Ben Davies, Gabriel De Marco, Neil Levy, and Julian Savulescu (eds.), Oxford University Press (forthcoming).
  • “Individual responsibility, large-scale harms, and radical uncertainty,” The Journal of Ethics, (2021).
  • “Rawls on global economic justice: a critical examination,” in John Rawls: Debating the Major Questions, Jon Mandle and Sarah Roberts-Cady (eds.), Oxford University Press, pp. 313-328, (2020).
  • “Relational egalitarianism,” Philosophy Compass, 15.7, pp. 1-12, (2020)
  • “The injustice of fat stigma,” Bioethics, pp. 1-19, (2019).
  • “On the Scope and Grounds of Social equality,” in Social Equality: Essays on What It Means to be Equals, Carina Fourie, Fabian Schuppert and Ivo Wallimann-Helmer (eds.), Oxford University Press, pp. 186-208, (2015).
  • “Against Institutional Luck Egalitarianism,” Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy, 8.1, pp. 1-19, (2014).
  • “Equal Standing in the Global Community,” The Monist, 94.4, pp. 593-614, (2011).
  • “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: A Critique of Virginia Held’s Deontological Justification of Terrorism,” Social Theory and Practice, 37.4, pp. 679-696, (2011).
  • “Global Institutionalism and Justice,” in Questioning Cosmopolitanism, Stan van Hooft and Wim Vandekerckhove (eds.), Springer, pp. 167-182, (2010).
  • “What is so special about the state?” in Sovereign Justice: Global Justice in a World of Nations, Gabriele de Angelis (ed.), deGruyter, pp. 109-128, (2010).

Book Reviews & Other Works

  • One Another’s Equals: The Basis of Human Equality by Jeremy Waldron, Ethics, 128.4, pp. 840-845 (2018).
  •  Equality for Inegalitarians by George Sher, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 94.2, pp. 408-411, (2016)
  • “Overcoming Polarization: Why and How?” Alabama Humanities Review, 2, Winner of Alabama Humanities Foundation’s essay competition, (2013) [for general audience] (pdf)
  • “The commitments of cosmopolitanism,” review essay of Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account by Gillian Brock and Global Inequality Matters by Darrel Moellendorf, Ethics & International Affairs, 24.3, pp. 319-333, (2010).
  • Strong Medicine: Creating Incentives for Pharmaceutical Research on Neglected Diseases by Michael Kremer and Rachel Glennerster, Ethics & International Affairs, 19.3, pp. 103-106, (2005).


Recent seminars I’ve taught:

Special Topics in Philosophy: Oppression (PHL 392). In this course we study philosophical issues concerning oppression. We take up questions about how we should understand social categories such as race and gender: for instance, what does it mean to belong to a certain race, or to be a man or woman? We consider the nature of oppression, working to understand what the hallmarks of oppressive relations are, and we engage in an in-depth exploration of different forms of contemporary oppression. In particular, we devote significant attention to three specific forms of oppression: racism, sexism, and sizism. In each of these cases, we survey different dimensions of how these different forms of oppression manifest themselves. We consider proposals for institutional remedies. We also consider questions of individual responsibilities in the face of injustice—such as whether victims of oppression have a responsibility to resist the oppressive circumstances they face—and questions concerning what forms of civil disobedience might be justified to combat oppression and why.

Philosophical Issues in International Law (PHL 343). This course explores philosophical issues concerning international law. We begin by considering the circumstances under which violence may be legitimately used in the international arena. What constitutes a just cause for war? What limits are there on how a war ought to be fought? We consider ethical issues pertaining to terrorism, torture, revolutionary activity, and humanitarian intervention. Following this, we examine how the international community ought to allocate responsibility for wrongful acts of violence. Throughout our exploration of these topics, we will engage with questions about the role that international legal bodies—such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court—ought to play in addressing these issues.  We also consider ethical dimensions of a range of applied issues including the following: international rules about refugees and border control; ecological and health issues; property rights to territory and natural resources; economic globalization; and international rules regulating intellectual property and trade. Along the way, we engage with debates about the status of international law. For instance, we consider which agents, if any, have the authority to make and to enforce international laws. And we take up the question of whether, and if so how, moral evaluation of international norms, which are frequently couched in the terminology of human rights, can avoid the charge of Western cultural imperialism.

Local Justice (PHL 390; service-learning course). Assessments of justice apply to social structures—to our legal framework as well as to the informal background rules, norms, and practices that define the terms of our interaction. Such assessments provide a basis for both condemnation of those social structures and articulation of a vision of the social change for which we ought to strive. In this course, our aim is to explore what the demands of justice are at a local level. Through an in-depth consideration of historical and contemporary events in our society, of the evolution of our laws, of the perspectives of both impassioned advocates of social change and their opponents, and of philosophical theories, we will search for answers to a range of questions, including some of the following ones: What would ideal race relations in today’s society look like, and what would be needed to make progress towards the realization thereof? What sorts of disadvantages and inequalities between citizens prove to be unacceptable? In the face of injustices that we observe in our own community, what responsibilities if any do ordinary individuals have to work to address them? When is it permissible, or even obligatory, for citizens to engage in forms of civil disobedience or social protest? What forms of punishment may society legitimately inflict on those who break the law? In addition to studying these and related topics from a philosophical perspective, students in this course will also engage in regular service work with a local community organization.


200-level courses I regularly teach:

PHL 230. Political Philosophy

PHL 234. Social Philosophy

PHL 292. Introduction to Ethics