Jasmine Gunkel

I completed my PhD in philosophy at  University of Southern California (USC), supervised by Mark Schroeder. I'll be joining the Bioethics Department at the National Institiutes of Health as a postdoc in Fall 2023. From there, I'll be joining the Philosophy Department at the University of Western Ontario as an Assistant Professor. I work primarily in normative and applied ethics, social and political philosophy, and feminist philosophy


Why are some violations of bodily autonomy, such as forcing someone to continue a pregnancy, so much more severe than others, such as requiring someone to wear a mask? Why is it so much more uncomfortable when a stranger grabs our thigh than it is when they grab our arm? Why is it worse to release notes from someone’s therapy session than it is to release notes from a birdwatching trip? On the surface, these questions don’t seem to share much in common. My dissertation, On Intimacy, argues that intimacy helps us answer all of them.

I'm developing what I call the 'Intimate Zones Account' of intimacy. When most people think about intimacy, they initially think about intimate relationships. I argue that this is a mistake. To understand the full scope and importance of intimacy, we must first look to our selves. Once we understand what makes a feature of a person intimate, we can then understand what makes an act intimate, and what makes a relationship intimate. Because our intimate features are those we are disposed to hide, and which we think reveal something important about who we are, revealing these features makes us vulnerable to shame. This threatens to 'turn our self against our self' and change us in ways we don't rationally endorse. This is why intimacy makes us very vulnerable, explains why intimate violations are so serious, and grounds many of our most stringent duties

I use my account to generate concrete policy proposals regarding how to best regulate intimate labor. It reveals that intimate labor does not consist only of practices like sex work and surrogacy, which are more commonly acknowledged to be intimate, but also disciplines such as therapy, nursing, teaching, and art.  

Other Work

I also work in animal ethics, bioethics, social philosophy of language, and at the intersection of ethics and aesthetics.  My other projects address questions such as:

You can reach me at jgunkel[at sign]usc.edu.