Melina Bell (she/her) Professor of Philosophy and Law

Melina Bell (she/her)

Washington Hall 312
Curriculum Vitae

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Professor Bell joined the Department of Philosophy in 2005 as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy. She became an Associate Professor in 2011. She is core faculty in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program and the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability, and affiliate faculty in the Law, Justice, and Society Program. She also teaches at the law school.

Professor Bell’s primary research interests are in political philosophy, philosophy of law, and feminist philosophy.  Her publications have focused on several different ways in which the basic structure of society, or particular domains within it, reflect hierarchies of social power that unduly restrict human freedom and opportunity and impede human flourishing.


Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
M.A. Philosophy, Tufts University
J.D. Boston University
M.P.H. Boston University
B.A. Philosophy, Hofstra University


Social and Political Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy of Law, Applied Ethics


Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity, Feminist Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Sex, Philosophy of the Family, Gender and Sport, John Stuart Mill, Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Distributive Justice, and at the law school, Jurisprudence and Feminist and Queer Jurisprudence

Selected Publications

“Children’s Right to Access Potentially Critical Learning: Liberating Youth from Propagation of Structural Injustice,” Southern California Review of Law & Social Justice 33 (2024): 29-87.

“Best and Worst States for Women’s Equality” Opinion, (2024).

“John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle and Free Speech: Expanding the Notion of Harm,” Utilitas (Cambridge Core, 2020): 1-18 (doi: 10.1017/S0953820820000229).

Citizens United, Liberty, and John Stuart Mill.” Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 30 (Online Supplement, 2016): 1-23.

“Gender Essentialism and American Law: Why and How to Sever the Connection.” Duke Journal of Gender, Law & Policy 23 (2016): 163-221.

“Children Are People: Liberty, Opportunity, and Just Parenthood.” Review Journal of Political Philosophy 9.1 (2012): 49-86.

“Is Women’s Bodybuilding Unfeminine?” in Philosophical Reflections on Physical Strength: Does a Strong Mind Need a Strong Body? Mark A. Holowchak and Terry Todd, eds. (Edwin Mellon Press, 2010), 179-198.

“Valuing All Families.” Law, Culture and the Humanities 5 (2009): 288-316.

“Strength in Muscle and Beauty in Integrity: Building a Body for Her.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 35 (2008): 43-62.

“Regulating Transfer and Use of Fetal Tissue in Transplantation Procedures: The Ethical Dimensions.” American Journal of Law & Medicine 20 (1994): 277-294.