I am professor emerita of philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where I taught from 2007 to 2020. From 1981 to 2007 I was a research scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland at College Park; from 1990-2007 I was also associate professor of philosophy at Maryland. My fields of interest are moral and political philosophy as well as philosophy of law. I've written about domestic and international justice, just war theory, media ethics, effective altruism, and a variety of questions in ethical theory. I’ve had visiting stints at Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, the University of Melbourne, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Center for Transnational Legal Studies (London). My book Distant Strangers: Ethics, Psychology, and Global Poverty was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. I am coauthor, with Robert K. Fullinwider, of Leveling the Playing Field: Justice, Politics, and College Admissions (2004) and editor of Democracy and the Mass Media (1990).
In 2016 I began teaching courses and volunteering at Jessup Correctional Institution in Jessup, MD and, two years later, also at the D.C. Jail. My main focus these days is on prison work and criminal justice reform.
I grew up in Queens, New York, before it became an interesting place. My parents, refugees from Nazi Germany, met in London during the war and after a time in Paris working for UNESCO after the war eventually settled in New York. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin I majored in history, discovering philosophy in my senior year. I went on to get an MA in philosophy at Wisconsin, then to the City University of New York for my PhD.
My father, Al Lichtenberg, was born in Germany in 1912 and grew up mainly in Stuttgart. He emigrated to the United States in 1937 and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was stationed in London, where he worked for the Army’s newspaper, the Stars and Stripes. There he met my mother, who had emigrated from Frankfurt in 1933. After the war they moved to New York, and in the 1950s and 1960s he wrote some evocative stories/reminiscences about his youthful experiences and the climate for Jews in pre-war Germany. (I don’t know where fact ends and fiction begins, and he’s no longer here to elaborate.) Below are links to four of the stories.
After the war, the American Army sent my father to Germany (since he spoke the language) to cover some of what was happening. I believe these two essays—Life in Auschwitz and The Reopening of Heidelberg University —appeared in the Stars and Stripes. “Reopening” covers the address of Karl Jaspers, reinstated at the university after having been dismissed by the Nazis in 1937.