- The Tango of Ethics: Intuition, Rationality and the Prevention of Suffering (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2023), proposes a deep, rigorous reassessment of how we think about ethics. A key paradigm is the conflict and interplay between two fundamentally different ways of seeing and being in the world.
- The Battle for Compassion: Ethics in an Apathetic Universe (New York: Algora Publishing, 2011), a methodical exploration of the question "What matters?" that synthesizes current thinking from science, philosophy and other disciplines with my own reflections on freedom, identity and morality.
Selected pieces and articles:
- "Promoting compassionate longtermism", a post on the Effective Altruism Forum, 7 December 2022. I start with some basic reflections on suffering and ethics, and end with a project description. The piece includes critiques of some longtermist thinking, including the neglect of suffering and the belief that even extreme suffering can be outweighed by enough bliss.
- Leighton, Jonathan and Bendell, Jem (2022) Ethical implications of anticipating and witnessing societal collapse: report of a discussion with international scholars. Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) Occasional Papers Volume 9. University of Cumbria, Ambleside, UK
- "Drop the Barriers, End the Pain", Campfire Convention, 24 November 2020: "The tide is turning, as various psychedelics are being recognised for their therapeutic potential, and the war on drugs is being recognised for its abject failure on many counts. But for cluster headache patients, the tide cannot turn quickly enough."
- "Removing the legal barriers to treating the excruciating pain of cluster headaches", Journal of Medical Ethics blog post, 16 November 2020
- Veganism in the event of societal collapse - an invited response at the end of a post by Jem Bendell: "Deeply Adapting Diets – meat-free or self-sufficiency?", 15 April 2020
- "For a compassionate rebellion against extinction", 1 May 2019: "As our civilisation faces monumental threats to its existence, it’s time to embrace an ethic of non-violence and care towards all sentient beings."
- "OPIS, a think-and-do tank for an ethic based on the prevention of suffering", 26 January 2019: English translation of an interview with me about OPIS and my ethical philosophy in the French/Canadian online publication L'Amorce, dedicated to overcoming the violence of speciesism. The French original is here.
- "Why Access to Morphine is a Human Right", 4 May 2018: "That millions of sick people throughout low- and middle-income countries suffer horrendous pain because they cannot access the morphine they need is a tragedy — the result of unwarranted fears and a failure of governments to care for those most in need."
- "Thriving in the Age of Factory Farming", 14 September 2017: a reflection on the paradox of wanting to derive pleasure from existence while there is massive, legally sanctioned torture of sentient beings taking place within our societies, and on the need for balance in our own lives so that we can be more effective as activists.
- "#MeToo? Reflections on abuse, power, gender and species", 18 October 2017: "Most of us are or have been, to some degree, both victims and perpetrators of abuse of power, sexual or not, conditioned by our society in our beliefs about what is appropriate, about what is normal, about what is “right” and “wrong”."
- "The Ethics of Impact", 17 March 2015: a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post's Pioneers for Change blog on a few key principles for ethical action.
Written for OPIS:
- Policy paper: Legalising Access to Psilocybin to End the Agony of Cluster Headaches, November 2020
- Advocacy guide: Ending the Agony: Access to Morphine as an Ethical and Human Rights Imperative, March 2018
Film and audio:
- The Battle for Compassion, a 20-minute film I produced to communicate some of the key ideas from my book. Also in French-, Spanish- and Arabic-subtitled versions.
- This is an interview with me following one of the film's public screenings in Deià, Mallorca.
- Guided Meditation for Activists, a guided meditation I produced to support self-forgiveness and compassion for others, especially for people aiming to reduce suffering in the world.
- A short story about cluster headaches ("suicide headaches"), a 2-minute animated video I wrote and produced, with animation by Mary Karpetas, that vividly depicts the reality of cluster headaches and the need to remove the legal barriers to effective treatments.
Recorded talks and presentations:
- "OPIS, ethics and advocacy for effective treatment of severe pain", a talk I gave at the University of Geneva on 26 October 2022 for the Association for Psychedelic Research. I discuss basic ethical principles, OPIS's work on access to pain relief and our larger ambitions, and briefly, our support to Juan-Pablo L'Huillier, a patient with an extremely painful condition called SUNCT who found dramatic relief by using ayahuasca. His talk follows mine in the video.
- "Speciesism, suffering and ethical consistency", a talk I gave on 29 August 2020 at an online conference co-organised by Vegan Option Canada on the occasion of the World Day to End Speciesism. I discuss ethics, why speciesism is inconsistent with core ethical principles, the distinction between suffering and interests, and the role of ethics in general and antispeciesism in particular in creating a more compassionate society.
- "Relieving the Pain of Cluster Headaches: Psilocybin and Related Chemicals", a talk recorded for the EAGxVirtual Unconference on 20 June 2020, organised by the Effective Altruism community. Cluster headaches (also known as "suicide headaches") are one of the most excruciating pains known to medicine. In this presentation I describe the condition and OPIS's project to ensure access to effective treatments for patients.
- "Designing Ethical Governance", a panel discussion I organised for Campfire's World Harmony Summer Solstice event, June 2020, with fellow panelists Matt Hawkins from Compassion in Politics, Louise Caldwell and Patrick Chalmers
- "The Authenticity of Compassionate Living", recorded at Karamel, London on 22 September 2018 at "The Superpowers of a Plant-Based Yoga Practice" organised by Veganahata with support from The Vegan Society.
- An informal talk I gave at Campfire Convention Chesham on 2 July 2017 about shaping a more compassionate society grounded in ethics. This was one of a series of events co-hosted by producer Pete Lawrence, who created the Big Chill events in the 90's and has now set up the Campfire Convention network to promote social change and a more inclusive society.
- "The ethical priority of alleviating intense suffering" at the KreaKolektiva 8x8 event on 14 April 2016 in Palma de Mallorca.
- "A holistic ethical framework: rationality, intuition and the prevention of suffering", a talk at Effective Altruism Madrid on 23 April 2019.
- Caryn Hartglass interviewed me for her podcast "It's All About Food", which aired on 24 January 2023 on New York's Progressive Radio Network. You can hear it here: January 24: Jonathan Leighton, The Tango of Ethics
- Humanimal Trust, which aims for animals to also benefit from medical progress and for the replacement of animal testing and experimentation, interviewed me for their first podcast in a new series. I discuss my new book, ethics and extreme suffering, anti-speciesism, wild animal suffering, the Golden Rule and self-care. I'm at 32:00-52:30. Series 2 - Episode 1/10: The ancient history of the human and animal relationship and the importance of ethics in One Medicine (uploaded 16 January 2023)
- Meanwhile in Athens, a podcast featuring creatives in Athens "who are undertaking interesting and meaningful projects to better our community and our planet": Episode 6 - Dr. Jonathan Leighton on Preventing Intense Suffering (uploaded 7 August 2022)