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Yashar Saghai

Research Scholar & Associate Faculty


Yashar Saghai, MA, PhD, is currently a research scholar and associate faculty at the Berman Institute.

His research in applied ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of science focuses on possible food futures. He engages with several fields, such as: food and agriculture; futures/foresight studies and history; public health and medical research; behavioral economics and cognitive psychology.

Dr. Saghai’s current work builds on a research program he developed at Berman since 2013 and on his training in philosophy and bioethics. From January 2013 to December 2015, he served as the Director of the Johns Hopkins Global Food Ethics Project, along with co-principal investigators, Drs. Ruth Faden, Alan Goldberg, and Bob Thompson. This project gathered an interdisciplinary group of 23 international experts to elaborate an innovative research and policy agenda for global food ethics that would make a significant practical contribution to global food security. The main products of the project are the 7 by 5 Agenda for Ethics and Global Food Security (May 2015), which outlines seven projects to make progress on ethics and global food security in five years.

Dr. Saghai completed a PhD in Philosophy at Georgetown University under the guidance of Drs. Maggie Little and Madison Powers, with a dissertation entitled, “The Ethics of Public Health Nudges,” discussing the ethical implications of public health policies based on insights from behavioral economics.

Prior to moving to the US, Dr. Saghai received two graduate degrees in History of Philosophy from the University of Paris-Sorbonne and worked on Spinoza. After being awarded a graduate degree in Medical Ethics from the University of Paris-XII-Créteil (Henri Mondor Medical School), he taught philosophy and bioethics in a variety of French institutions, including nursing schools.

Selected Publications
Saghai, Y. Forthcoming. “Theorizing justice in health research contexts.” In Beyond Consent: Seeking Justice in Research, edited by J. Kahn, A. Mastroianni, and J. Sugarman. Second edition, Oxford University Press: New York, NY.

Lipton, Michael, and Y. Saghai. 2016. “Farmland-access ethics, land reform, and food ethics.” Global Food Security. Published Online First (May 4, 2016).

Aloosh, M, and Y. Saghai. 2016. “Birth control policies in Iran: A public health and ethics perspective.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 70: 529–533. doi:10.1136/jech-2015-205572.

Global Food Ethics Project. May 2015. 7 by 5 Agenda for Ethics and Global Food Security: 7 Projects to Make Progress on Ethics and Global Food Security in 5 Years. Project Report. Johns Hopkins University: Baltimore, MD.

Whicher, D., N. Kass, Y. Saghai, R. Faden, S. Tunis, and P. Pronovost. 2015.
The views of quality improvement professionals and comparative effectiveness researchers on ethics, IRBs, and oversight.” Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. Online February 23, 2015. DOI:10.1177/1556264615571558.

Saghai, Y. 2014. “Radically questioning the principle of the least restrictive alternative:
A reply to Nir Eyal.” International Journal of Health Policy and Management 3(6): 349-350. Doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2014.106.

Saghai, Y. 2013. “The concept of nudge and its moral significance: A reply to Ashcroft, Bovens, Dworkin, Welch, and Wertheimer.” Journal of Medical Ethics 39(8): 499-501. Doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-101112.

Saghai, Y. 2013. “Salvaging the concept of nudge.” Journal of Medical Ethics 39(8):  487-493. Doi:10.1136/medethics-2012-100727.

Powers, M., R. Faden, and Y. Saghai. 2012. “Liberty, Mill, and the framework of public health ethics.” Public Health Ethics 5 (1): 6-15. DOI:10.1093/phe/phs002.

Beauchamp, T., and Y. Saghai. 2012. “The historical foundations of the research-practice  distinction in bioethics.” Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 33 (1): 45–56. DOI 10.1007/s11017-011-9207-8.