Headshot of David Livingstone Smith

David Livingstone Smith, Ph.D.




Marcil Hall 311

David has written or edited ten books. His 2011 Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others won the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for nonfiction. David’s  book On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It was published by Oxford University Press in 2020, and his tenth book, Making Monsters: The Uncanny Power of Dehumanization was published by Harvard University Press in 2021.

David was described in the Times Literary Supplement as “a philosopher seeking not just to interpret the world but to change it." His book On Inhumanity is praised by Harvard University philosopher Cornel West, as “a philosophically sophisticated and prophetically courageous treatment of dehumanization, especially in regard to race,” and by Yale University historian Timothy Snyder as “firm but gentle, wise but accessible.” and University of Pennsylvania law professor Dorothy Roberts says that “On Inhumanity brilliantly provides a chilling warning of repeating the past and a hopeful call to create a more humane future," and science journalist Angela Saini calls it "A chilling, comprehensive and passionate account of dehumanization,” and adds that “Smith offers a devastating reminder of the capacity of every human to treat other humans as lesser."

David is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose publications are cited not only by other philosophers, but also by historians, legal scholars, psychologists, and anthropologists. He has been featured in prime-time television documentaries, is often interviewed and cited in the national and international media, and was a guest at the 2012 G20 economic summit.




University of London, Kings College


Current research

Self-deception, dehumanization, human nature, ideology, race.

Selected publications

Making Monsters: The Uncanny Power of Dehumanization. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

How Biology Shapes Philosophy: New Foundations for Naturalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017

Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others.  New York: St. Martins Press, 2011.

‘Paradoxes of dehumanization,’ Social Theory and Practice 42(2): 416-433, 2015.

Other scholarly activity

Winner of 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for non-fiction.

Sepeaker at 2012 G20 Economic Summit.

Invited plenary presentation

‘How ideologies get their functions,’ American Philosophical Association Pacific Division, annual conference [2018].

‘Consuming authoritarianism,’ American Philosophical Association Eastern Division, annual conference [January 4, 2018].

‘Anthropology, race, and dehumanization,’ Black New England, University of New Hampshire [October 21, 2017]

‘Paradoxes of dehumanization,’ University of Virginia, Department of Political Science [April 28, 2017].

‘Less than human, lesser human, or defectively human?’ Sidore Lecture, University of New Hampshire [March 7, 2017].

‘How dehumanization works,’ Salem State University [Feb 22, 2017].

‘The politics of salvation,’ presentation at conference on ‘Philosophy after Trump,’ University of Pennsylvania [February 3, 2017].

‘Making monsters,’ Pomona College, Dept. of Philosophy, [January 20, 2017].

‘The politics of salvation: ideology, propaganda, and race in Trump’s America,’ University of California, Riverside, Dept. of Philosophy [January 19, 2017].

Panel on combatting dehumanization, Inamori Center for Ethics and Excellence, Case Western Reserve University [October 27, 2016].

‘Making monsters: the uncanny power of dehumanization,’ Inamori Center, Case Western Reserve University [October 28, 2016].

‘Understanding dehumanization,’ Tufts University Medical Center, Grand Rounds [September 20, 2016].

Research interests

Dehumanization, ideology, race.

Research topics

Human Nature
Philosophy of Science