Skip to content
Johannes Himmelreich

Johannes Himmelreich

Contact Information:


510 Eggers Hall

Johannes Himmelreich

Assistant Professor, Public Administration and International Affairs Department

Senior Research Associate, Autonomous Systems Policy Institute

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute


PAI 700 Ethics of Emerging Technology
PAI 796 Ethics of Data Science 
PAI 755 Public Administration and Democracy



Highest degree earned

Ph.D., London School of Economics, 2016 


Johannes Himmelreich joined the Public Administration and International Affairs Department in the Maxwell School as a tenure-track assistant professor in fall 2019. Prior to joining Syracuse University, Himmelreich was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University from 2017-19. During his time in Silicon Valley, he consulted on tech ethics for two Fortune 500 companies, taught ethics and worked on the ethics of autonomous systems at Apple Inc. Prior to Stanford, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin from 2015-17, teaching classes on ethics and political philosophy. 

Himmelreich works on applied ethics and political philosophy. Currently, he is writing a book on the philosophy of data science. He has published papers on “Responsibility for Killer Robots,” on the trolley problem and the ethics of self-driving cars, as well as on embodiment in virtual reality.

Beyond this interest in ethics and technology, Himmelreich has also published on the commodification of asylum-provision services as well as on the foundations and nature of moral responsibility and blame. He argues that corporations, states and autonomous systems are agents that can be morally responsible for their actions.

Himmelreich’s work is supported by a grant of the National Endowment of the Humanities. His work has also been supported by the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100), the AI in Medicine initiative at the Presence Center of Stanford Medical School, the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA).

Himmelreich earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in 2016, a M.Sc. (with distinction) in philosophy and public policy in 2011 at the London School of Economics, and a B.A. (with honors) in 2010 in philosophy and economics from Bayreuth University. 

Areas of Expertise

Applied ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of public policy, ethics of artificial intelligence, autonomous systems


Himmelreich, J. (2023). Against “Democratizing AI.” AI & SOCIETY, 38, 1333–1346.

Himmelreich, J. (2023). What Killed Your Plant? Profligate Omissions and Weak Centering. Erkenntnis, 88, 1683–1703.

Himmelreich, J., & Köhler, S. (2022). Responsible AI Through Conceptual Engineering. Philosophy & Technology, 35(3), 60.

Himmelreich, J. (2022). No wheel but a dial: Why and how passengers in self-driving cars should decide how their car drives. Ethics and Information Technology, 24(4), 45.

Young, M. M., Himmelreich, J., Honcharov, D., & Soundarajan, S. (2022). Using artificial intelligence to identify administrative errors in unemployment insurance. Government Information Quarterly, 39(4), 101758.

Himmelreich, J., & Lim, D. (2022). AI and Structural Injustice: Foundations for Equity, Values, and Responsibility. In J. B. Bullock, Y.-C. Chen, J. Himmelreich, V. M. Hudson, A. Korinek, M. M. Young, & B. Zhang (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of AI Governance (p. 0). Oxford University Press.

Himmelreich, J. (2022). Should We Automate Democracy? In C. Véliz (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics. Oxford University Press.

Himmelreich, J., & Cohen, J. (2021). Teaching moral reasoning: Why and how to use the trolley problem. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 27(4), 451–471.

Young, Matthew M, Johannes Himmelreich, Justin B Bullock, and Kyoung-Cheol Kim (2021). “Artificial Intelligence and Administrative Evil.” Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, no. gvab006 (April).

Himmelreich, Johannes. (2020)/ “Ethics of Technology Needs More Political Philosophy.” Communications of the ACM 63 (1): 33–35.

Himmelreich, Johannes. (2019). “Responsibility for Killer Robots.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (3): 731–47.

Himmelreich, Johannes. (2018). “Never Mind the Trolley: The Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles in Mundane Situations.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3): 669–84.