Monday, December 08, 2008

The Journal of Moral Philosophy is ranked "A"

Readers will recall my previous post on the rankings of philosophy journals being undertaken in Australia and New Zealand. (This post can be found here.) Of particular surprise was finding the Journal of Moral Philosophy ranked "B" and not higher. I immediately wrote to the AAP making a case for the JMP's rank to be upgraded and I noted the case on this blog.

I have been thrilled by the reaction. First, Brian Leiter graciously noted my post on the rankings on his Leiter Reports. This brought my concerns to a wider than normal audience. Secondly, the larger than normal traffic led to an excellent discussion of the philosophy list, especially several helpful clarifications by Dave Chalmers.

I am delighted to announce that these efforts were all well worth while: I have today received news that the AAP has changed our listing from "A" (from "B"). We now find the JMP set alongside journals, such as American Philosophical Quarterly, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Journal of Ethics, Journal of Social Philosophy, Metaphilosophy, Ratio, Philosophy, and Utilitas to name a few.

We remain short of the highest distinction --- A* --- as we now complete publication of just our fifth volume. However, the way things are going --- we are receiving record levels of submissions --- this may change over the next five years as the journal continues to develop.

My thanks again to everyone involved in commenting on my earlier post, especially Chalmers and Leiter, as well as the AAP for reconsidering the JMP's ranking in light of my appeal. This is yet another good day for the JMP.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Study for a Ph.D. in Political Philosophy at Newcastle University

Readers will know that my home department of Politics at the University of Newcastle has a large number of political philosophers --- approximately 25% of the department --- offering a wide range of specialisms that may be of interest to prospective Ph.D. students. Our political philosophers are:

Dr Derek Bell (Senior Lecturer in Politics) - works in the areas of climate change and global justice, as well as contemporary political philosophy more broadly including a special interest in Thomas Nagel's work.

Dr Thom Brooks (Reader in Political and Legal Philosophy) - I work in both contemporary political philosophy and its history with particular interests in ancient Greek philosophy, British and German Idealism, global justice, jurisprudence, and the works of Martha Nussbaum and John Rawls.

Professor Peter Jones (Professor of Political Philosophy) - works in the area of contemporary political philosophy with a particular interest in multiculturalism, rights, and toleration.

Dr Graham Long (Lecturer in Politics) - works in the area of contemporary political philosophy with a special interest in global justice.

Dr Ian O'Flynn (Lecturer in Politics) - works primarily in the area of deliberative democracy and democratic theory.

Further information about political philosophy at Newcastle can be found here. Our department is home to several journals, including the Journal of Moral Philosophy that I edit. In addition, Newcastle has produced four winners of the Sir Ernest Baker prize for best Ph.D. in Political Theory: (Bell, Long, Christiane Hiley, James Pattison) awarded by the Political Studies Association.

I helped found and direct the Newcastle Ethics, Legal, and Political Philosophy Group since 2004. Past speakers have included Andrea Baumeister (Stirling), Richard Bellamy (UCL), Christopher Berry (Glasgow), David Boucher (Cardiff), G. A. Cohen (Oxford), Wayne Davis (Georgetown), John Gardner (Oxford/Yale), Matthew Kramer (Cambridge), Brian Leiter (Texas), Matt Matravers (York), David Miller (Oxford), Joseph Raz (Columbia/Oxford), Henry Richardson (Georgetown), Alison Stone (Lancaster), Leif Wenar (Sheffield), and Jonathan Wolff (UCL) amongst many others.

The Group also hosts regular conferences. Past conferences include "Punishment" (2004), "Nussbaum's Hiding from Humanity: Author Meets Critics" (2006), "Pogge and His Critics" (2006), and two workshops in the areas of deliberative democracy and political participation that took place last academic year. We will be hosting a conference "Pettit and His Critics" this March with speakers including Philip Pettit, Michael Ridge, Cecile Laborde, and myself. We also host a conference on Martha Nussbaum's Liberty of Conscience with speakers including Nussbaum, Peter Jones, Chandran Kukathas, Anne Phillips, and Sue Mendus.

Further information on graduate study in Politics at Newcastle can be found here and information on how to apply can be found here. Anyone that would like to contact me about Ph.D. opportunties, may contact me here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What to do about student ghost cities?

The BBC has an interesting piece here on the problem of student ghost cities in the United Kingdom. The problem is that many parts of cities become absolutely deserted when students leave (and overwhelmed during the academic year).

Why is this? Unlike the United States, the overwhelming number of undergraduate students in the UK live off-campus in private accommodation. They live --- at least in one case I know of --- up to 12 people in one home. When the academic year begins, parking becomes impossible as out of nowhere several cars per home emerge overnight. Then people and cars --- and the weekend parties --- disappear for the summer only to return in September.

I am not sure that new zoning laws would be the best way forward. For one thing, there will be strong opposition from land owners who rent to students --- and they remain the primary players until a true alternative emerges. For another, and as much as I sympathize with those who worry about inevitable drops in property values when student homes move in, I am libertarian on where (and where not) student homes may be situated. It is hardly surprising that these "ghost cities" are normally areas near campus. (Thus, the solution would be to move the campus in order to move the private student accommodation.)

A better solution might be to move more towards the US-model (if it can be called that). It is typical to find ample accommodation on campus for students with kitchens, cafeteria, and so on. This does not deny students the opportunity to live in private accommodation, but the latter may be less attractive if cheaper accommodation/meals were available on campus. There might be better security for students, as fewer might live off campus (and student homes are prime targets for thieves as they may expect several televisions, stereos, laptops, cd's, and the like they can easily sell off). In addition, it would help eliminate the "problem" of "ghost cities" (indeed, if it is a problem) as most students would live on campus.

UPDATE: An excellent guide for students on private accommodation can be found here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More on journal rankings: the case of Australasia

Readers may be aware of new attempts to rank philosophy journals, such as this attempt in Australasia. Journals are ranked A-C with a special A* for the very best of A journals. A sample (and far from exhaustive):

Journals ranked A*
Australasian Journal of Philosophy
European Journal of Philosophy
Journal of Philosophy
Midwest Studies in Philosophy
Mind and Language
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
Philosophers' Imprint
Philosophical Quarterly
Philosophical Review
Philosophical Studies
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Philosophy and Public Affairs
Philosophy East and West
Political Theory

Journals ranked A
American Philosophical Quarterly
Asian Philosophy
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
European Journal of Political Theory
International Journal of Philosophical Studies
Journal of Applied Philosophy
Journal of Ethics
Journal of Philosophical Research
Journal of Political Philosophy
Journal of Social Philosophy
Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology
Kantian Review
Law and Philosophy
Logique et Analyse
Philosophical Topics
Philosophy and Social Criticism
Philosophy Compass
Politics, Philosophy, Economics
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society
Review of Metaphysics
Social Theory and Practice

Journals ranked B
Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie
Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain
Derrida Today
Indian Journal of Philosophic Studies
Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy
Journal of Indian Philosophy
Journal of Moral Philosophy
Owl of Minerva
Philosophical Books
Philosophy and Theology
Public Affairs Quarterly
Ratio Juris
Res Publica

Journals ranked C
APA Newsletters
Collingwood and British Idealism Studies
Ethical Perspectives
Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion
Philosophical Writings
Review Journal of Philosophy and Social Science
Review Journal of Political Philosophy

Not ranked
History of Political Thought [This is the surprise of the list: it should be at least A, if not A* - Thom]
International Journal of Applied Philosophy


The Australasian Association of Philosophy's cover letter is well-written. It notes that there are perhaps far more problems arising from using rankings than not using them. I found the general sentiment agreeably cautious.

A real effort has gone into identifying journals. This list is far more impressive than all others that I have seen in terms of its size.

One very serious problem is that some of the journals do not exist. For example, the list notes a Filosofick? Casopis and a Filosoficky Casopis. Both are awareded 'C' and I imagine both refer to the latter: the former does not exist. Moreover, they list a non-existent Journal of the Hegel Society of Great Britain -- this is awarded a 'B' not unlike the Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain which does exist. Finally, I am fairly certain that the 'A' ranked (!) Moral Theory and Practice journal does not exist, while the 'A' ranked Ethical Theory and Moral Practice does exist.

A further problem is that there are mistakes on journals that are included. For example, the Aristotelian Society's publications are listed as 'peer reviewed'. In addition, the Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain is listed as 'peer reviewed'. It is the case in this month's meeting of the Hegel Society we agreed to begin including work that will be peer reviewed, but it is not a fully peer reviewed journal at present. Neither is the Aristotelian proceedings or supplement. These are then wrong.

The Journal of Moral Philosophy is ranked 'B'? In previous journal ranking schemes, the Journal of Moral Philosophy has consistently ranked alongside other 'Journal of' titles, such as the Journal of Ethics, Journal of Political Philosophy, Journal of Social Philosophy, and others, including the ERIH rankings of philosophy journals. I was then surprised to find these journals all ranked again together, but without the JMP.

I am not sure what explains this. The JMP has an international editorial board, submissions are peer reviewed with two or three readers for papers, and our acceptance rate is now under 10%. We are listed in the Philosopher's Index and other similar databases. It is then curious that journals less international with much higher acceptance rates than ours were ranked higher in several cases. I have written to the Australasian Association of Philosophy about this and, hopefully, a change will be forthcoming.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Thom Brooks on "Five Secrets to Publishing Success"

My latest piece on publishing advice for graduate students and new academics can be found --- and read for free --- at * here *.

This piece further develops my views presented in my 'Publishing Advice for Graduate Students'.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Is John McCain the new Bob Dole?

Sometimes it appears that, yes, history really does repeat itself. It almost feels like 1996 all over again, doesn't it? Of course, you do remember the 1996 US presidential election, right?

In 1996, the Democrats will be putting forward a highly charismatic and articulate politician several years younger than his rival Republican and far more popular with independent voters and moderate/left Republicans.

The Republicans will put forward an older war veteran who has been in the U.S. Senate for a number of years and represents the moderate wing of his party. Like 1996, the Republican Senator claims age is on his side -- despite ongoing health concerns since his service -- and that his being a veteran therefore makes him best qualified to lead the country on national defense isses.

The story line is clear: John McCain is the new Bob Dole. The problem for McCain is that Dole's opponent, Bill Clinton, is less popular at home or abroad than the tremendous rush of support for Barack Obama. (Thus, McCain may be the new Dole, but Obama is not the new Clinton by a longshot.)

I see history clearly repeating itself: just as Dole lost handedly to Clinton, I predict that McCain will lose equally badly to Obama. For the benefit of number crunchers, my exact prediction is Obama wins 53% of the popular vote and McCain wins 45% (with 2% to other candidates).

Now here is a more controversial prediction: Arizona was virtually split 50-50 in 1996. Let me state first for the record I am predicting that Arizona will go to Obama. I think the vote will be just as close, but it will favour Obama. This is not because Arizona has not been kind to McCain, but instead because Arizona is a different kind of state: it has a perhaps surprising number of Democrats and unaffiliated voters, a highly multicultural population, many Arizonans were born elsewhere (lacking particular loyaties to McCain), and I have the sense that Arizona will deliver a major surprise this November. If Obama wins Arizona, then remember you saw it here first!

UPDATE: I understand that McCain has all but given up on New York state. There is a New Jersey office, but virtually no presence and no office staff in New York. It looks like a campaign short on cash . . .

Friday, July 18, 2008

New British Academy fellows

. . . with thanks to Brian Leiter for his post. There are only a couple in the fields of philosophy, and politics: Iain McLean and Roger Scruton. "Corresponding fellows" include Martha C. Nussbaum and Bas C. van Fraassen. The full list can be found here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Should we elect all members of the House of Lords?

The Government will soon submit a proposal to do just this, with plans to enact this proposal --- if signed into law --- after the next general election.

The House of Lords is a curious institution. Membership had long been largely inherited, although this is being phased out. Today, new members are appointed to life terms, with a substantial number of Anglican Bishops. (There are no seats set aside for any other religious groups.)

The House of Lords largely serves as a counterweight to the House of Commons, although the "lower" house (of the Commons) can overturn (by supermajority vote) the decisions of the "upper" house (of the Lords). Prime Ministers had originally been selected from the House of Lords and, thus, were not popularly elected. Moreover, the House of Lords also includes the Law Lords, whose constitutional place is not unlike US Supreme Court judges except that they also sit in the legislative body, the House of Lords. (Thus, the separation of powers in this and other cases is not clear.)

Whenever I discuss the House of Lords with friends and colleagues in the US, they are almost always surprised to learn that such a legislative body exists. It strikes many that there is so much about the institution that is objectionable. How is it, I am asked, that the UK can ever tolerate an unelected upper house of their Parliament?

I will be disappointed to see all the proposed reforms passed. In my view, one major reason to keep the House of Lords largely as it is composed now is simply because it works. It is perhaps surprising to those outside the UK to learn that the House of Lords has played a crucial and positive role in protecting civil liberties over the last decade especially. The fact that the House of Lords often seems to work so well is that its members can have the long-term interests of the country in mind, rather than newspaper headlines or general elections. Moreover, those that have been appointed represent special expertise across a range of subjects. For example, current Lords include Baroness (Onora) O'Neill, Lord (Bhikhu) Parekh, and Lord (Raymond) Plant. (For details on how to become a Lord, see here.)

A further reason I believe the House of Lords should be retained is because it strikes the correct balance between the elected and the experts. As I have argued before (here) and (here), it is right that those popularly elected can overturn the decisions of the unelected. However, it is also best that governing brings together those with special expertise to help popularly elected politicians rule best.

It is often said that the jury trial is like a mini-Parliament: nothing could be more true. The jury always have the final say on all decisions, but their verdict is informed by the good counsel offered to them by the unelected judge, selected for his or her because of his or her legal expertise. To follow this analogy, the House of Lords is like the wise judge offering its advice when appropriate to the jurors, the House of Commons. The Commons may accept or reject this advice, but the two most often work together in tandem. That this system works is clear from the history of this peculiar institution and the sound decisions it most often reaches, not least post-9/11.

My strong support for the House of Lords is not a support of all features of this institution. For example, I would strongly support not only the end of inherited peerages, but also the end of giving seats to members of the Anglican church only. (Whether it is preferable to distribute the seats to leaders of more religious groups or reserve no seats I put to the side for now.)

All institutions require some reform from time to time. That said, I do hope that the reform of the House of Lords is not as radical as has been proposed and that the distinctive constitutional role it has played in British history and politics preserved for the benefit of us all.

UPDATE: I have posted on more recent developments above here.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

How smart are you?

An interesting test from the BBC here. (For those who are curious, I received 19 of 20.)

We have reached 100,000!

The Brooks Blog has now broke the 100,000 hits barrier. As I noted previously when we reached 50,000 hits (last October) and my one year of blogging anniversary post, I am genuinely thrilled to see the popularity of blog continue to grow.

In the beginning, the blog was simply a space where I posted the latest drafts of my papers (and it attracted only a few hits per day). I was then encouraged by a variety of friends, not least Brian Leiter, to develop the blog more and so it has been expanded to cover philosophical news with an emphasis on higher education issues and commentary on public affairs.

Since launching the blog on 15th June 2006, it has been a genuine delight to know others enjoy the blog, too. My thanks to all readers of the blog for their encouragement and support!

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Columbia University Press website for Hegel's Political Philosophy

Needless to say, I would be very interested to hear what readers think of the book if you have any comments.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Queen's honours

It is that time of year again for the Queen's honours list. This year's list is little different from past lists, with no one receiving awards for services in academic law, philosophy or politics. There is some good news, however, for those of us in Newcastle as the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Christopher Richard Watkin Edwards, has been knighted (more details here).

Monday, June 09, 2008

Why 42 days?

PM Gordon Brown's Government wants to pass a bill that would permit the police to detain terrorism suspects for up to 42 days without being formally charged. At present, terrorism suspects can only be detained for up to 28 days.

Why a change to 42 days?

First, we have learned that the security forces have not requested 42 days. If 42 days is necessary to protect the country from any terrorist threat, then it is curious that MI5 has not felt this threat --- a threat they monitor --- requires a change in the law. It then appears implausible to believe a change in the law is necessary to help bolster the country's security when those who hold the expertise in the area clearly deny this.

Secondly, the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, opposes the bill. When the guy who thought the Iraq war might be justified does not think this bill can be justified, it may be another reason to be suspicious.

Thirdly, we know that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has also not requested a change. This is especially curious, as it is they that would be responsible for prosecuting all cases. If they do not believe that they need 42 days, then why does the Government think differently . . . ?

My own suspicions is that Brown is overly desperate to get some good news. Detaining without charge terrorist suspects for 42 days is unnecessary and there is no evidence to suggest it will become necessary: in fact, the Home Secretary claims we should pass the bill now precisely because it is not necessary (as it might possibly become necessary at some undisclosed time in the future). However, many people do not feel too strongly about supporting terrorist suspects these days and Brown may be able to claim he is "tougher" on terrorism than his critics, however false his justifications for his position. What is more, given how poorly his tenure has gone thus far, many Labour MP's may well be pressured in supporting this ill-thought legislation simply to show their support for him in the wave of constant bad press. (Of course, voting for a bad bill because you feel sorry for the fellow who proposed it is a very poor reason to vote for it.)

Finally, I highly recommend that readers read meditations71 and its terrific post on this topic, not least its reminding us that perhaps the true reason for "42" days is that "42" is the answer to the question of "what is the meaning of life?" (in Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).

UPDATE 1: Please see Martin O'Neill's excellent post at the New Statesman.

UPDATE 2: More on 42 days with meditations71 here.

UPDATE 3: Conservative MP David Davis has left his seat, forcing a by-election that will be centred on this bill. Or so Davis hopes . . .

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Leif Wenar on "Property Rights and the Resource Curse"

. . . is in the current issue of Philosophy & Public Affairs and found here (subscription required). It is easily one of the most interesting articles I have read in a very long time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thom Brooks on Nussbaum's "Liberty of Conscience"

My review of Martha C. Nussbaum's Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America's Tradition of Religious Equality (Basic Books, 2008) has just appeared in the current issue of the Times Higher Education. It can be read in full here. An excerpt:

"In Liberty of Conscience, Martha C. Nussbaum argues that threats to religious liberty are not unique to the US, but that its response to these threats since its colonial days is unique and presents us with a model worth adopting elsewhere.

The US lacks an established state religion and, instead, has adopted a separation between state and religion, whereby the state shall not favour any religion over others. The Government must treat all religious views (including atheism) on equal terms with equal respect. Citizens then possess not only the liberty of their conscience to accept a particular religion without fear of state oppression, but they also have a liberty to express their conscience in their dress, worship and other ways within certain boundaries without fear of state oppression in these matters as well.

Thus, the separation of state and religion is, in fact, "a way of respecting human beings" and does not harm liberty of conscience and its expression. Only threats to public peace and safety - where the state has a clear interest in protecting its citizens - can legitimately limit the free exercise of our religious beliefs. Otherwise, we should accommodate religious differences [. . .]

[. . .] Liberty of Conscience is wide ranging and covers an extraordinary amount of ground. It covers the wrongful attempts at suppressing the religious worship of any number of groups, including the Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Native Americans, Roman Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists.

In addition, Nussbaum addresses a great variety of contemporary issues pertaining to the freedom of religious expression, such as evolution, the pledge of allegiance, public displays, religious dress, same-sex marriage and school prayer [. . .]

[. . .] Nussbaum's Liberty of Conscience is a true tour de force on issues of pressing contemporary concern internationally, reaffirming her place as one of the most significant and thought-provoking public intellectuals today. Her book is a treasure trove of riches in both religious scholarship and philosophical argument that cannot be overlooked by anyone with an interest in the topic."

UPDATE: A review of Liberty of Conscience was also recently published by the New York Times. It can be found here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Book of the month: Bhikhu Parekh's "A New Politics of Identity"

I have just received a copy of Bhikhu Parekh's A New Politics of Identity: Political Principles for an Interdependent World published by Palgrave Macmillan. (It can be ordered in USA or UK.) A brief blurb:

"A systematic discussion of the ethics and politics of human solidarity needed in a globalized age.This book provides a broad-ranging analysis of a key issue in political philosophy and political practice. It is an important and timely new book from leading political theorist and author of Rethinking Multiculturalism, Bhikhu Parekh. It examines the roots of terrorism and shows why the 'war on terror' is misguided. The New Politics of Identity pursues many of the central issues raised in the author's Rethinking Multiculturalism focusing in particular on their consequences for global politics. Parekh develops a theory of identity that combines respect for diversity and applies this theory to a range of key current debates on national identity."

I have no doubt that this will prove to be one of the most significant books of the year, by one of today's most distinguished political theorists. Very highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The best thing I have ever seen concerning peer review

. . . was recently published by the British Academy. This report is entitled Peer Review: the challenges for the humanities and social sciences. The working group that produced this report was chaired by Albert Weale. A copy can be found online here. It is absolutely fantastic.

I am just digesting the report now, but will update shortly with further comments. Meanwhile, I most strongly recommend that readers take a close look at this report. It is invaluable.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thom Brooks on The Global Justice Reader

I have just received my copies of my new The Global Justice Reader. It is published by Blackwell. Information about the book can be found on Blackwell's website. The site is here and the site is here.

The book's description is as follows:

"The Global Justice Reader is a first-of-its kind collection that brings together key foundational and contemporary writings on this important topic in moral and political philosophy. Designed for course use, and organized thematically, each section of the text offers a brief introduction followed by important readings on subjects ranging from sovereignty, human rights, and nationalism to global poverty, terrorism, and international environmental justice. Key seminal works from Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and John Rawls are included alongside important contemporary writings from a cast of leading thinkers in the field."

"The Global Justice Reader is an important work of our time. It means that we can chart the development of the idea of justice in terms of the themes that occupy our world today. This book is a great idea about a great idea."

Robert Imre, University of Notre Dame

"Thom Brooks' The Global Justice Reader fills an urgent need for those who teach the philosophical dimensions of global issues, and their students. Brooks has pulled together an interesting and provocative set of articles, many of them classics in their fields. This book will set the benchmark against which others will be judged."

Stephen Gardiner, University of Washington

"This is both the broadest and the deepest selection of texts on morality beyond borders. Those looking for sharp analyses of crucial issues in global justice will find this collection clearly the best choice."

Leif Wenar, University of Sheffield

Thom Brooks, ed. The Global Justice Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

Table of contents


Part I: Sovereignty
1 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
2 Charles R. Beitz, “A State of Nature”
3 Thomas W. Pogge, “Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty”

Part II: Rights to Self-Determination
4 Avishai Margalit and Joseph Raz, “National Self-Determination
5 Allen Buchanan, “Theories of Secession”

Part III: Human Rights
6 United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
7 Leif Wenar, “The Nature of Rights”
8 Charles R. Beitz, “Human Rights as a Common Concern”
9 Peter Jones, “Group Rights and Group Oppression”
10 David Sussman, “What’s Wrong with Torture?”

Part IV: Rawls’s The Law of Peoples
11 John Rawls, The Law of Peoples
12 Thomas W. Pogge, “An Egalitarian Law of Peoples”

Part V: Nationalism and Patriotism
13 Robert E. Goodin, “What is so Special about our Fellow Countrymen?”
14 David Miller, “The Ethics of Nationality”
15 Martha C. Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism”

Part VI: Cosmopolitanism
16 Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace
17 Jürgen Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace, with the Benefit of Two Hundred Years’ Hindsight”
18 Thomas W. Pogge, “Moral Universalism and Global Economic Justice”

Part VII: Global Poverty and International Distributive Justice
19 Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality”
20 Leif Wenar, “What We Owe to Distant Others”
21 Thomas Nagel, “The Problem of Global Justice”
22: Thomas W. Pogge, “Eradicating Systematic Poverty: Brief for a Global Resources Dividend”
23 Lisa L. Fuller, “Poverty Relief, Global Institutions, and the Problem of Compliance”

Part VIII: Just War
24 St Thomas Aquinas, “War, Sedition, and Killing”
25 John Stuart Mill, “A Few Words on Non-Intervention”
26 United Nations, Charter, Chapter VII
27 Thomas Nagel, “War and Massacre”
28 Michael Walzer, “Anticipations”
29 Jeff McMahan, “Just Cause for War”

Part IX: Terrorism
30 Michael Walzer, “Noncombatant Immunity and Military Necessity”
31 David Rodin, “Terrorism Without Intention”
32 Saul Smilansky, “Terrorism, Justification, and Illusion”

Part X: Women and Global Justice
33 Susan Moller Okin, “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?”
34 Martha C. Nussbaum, “Capabilities as Fundamental Entitlements: Sen and Social Justice”
35 Martha C. Nussbaum, “The Role of Religion”
36 Carol C. Gould, “Conceptualizing Women’s Human Rights”

Part XI: International Environmental Justice
37 Peter Singer, “One Atmosphere”
38 Simon Caney, “Cosmopolitan Justice, Responsibility, and Global Climate Change”


I do hope The Global Justice Reader will be a real success and encourage readers to take a close look at it. This book is the first of a four book deal I have agreed with Blackwell. The next three books include a second edited book, Hegel's Philosophy of Right: Essays on Ethics, Politics, and Law (2010), and two monographs: Global Justice and Political Philosophy: The Fundamentals, the latter appearing in Blackwell's "Fundamentals in Philosophy" series. I will have a monograph, Punishment (Routledge), and edited book, The Right to Fair Trial (Ashgate), appear later this year.

So who exactly reads the Brooks Blog?

Needless to say, my sincere thanks to readers for their interest in this blog. I will certainly continue to keep it interesting!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Time to push for liberal arts in the UK? On the government's latest higher education funding proposals

Yet more proposals for funding higher education have been proposed by the British Government. If there is anything that has really surprised me since moving to the UK, then it is how often ---and how radically different--- new Government proposals for funding higher education take place.

First, let me present what the BBC reports today (see here):


"[. . .] The grant letter from the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, John Denham (pictured), says public spending on higher education institutions will exceed £7bn this year.

When added to the money for student support, spending would rise by an average of 2.5% each year over the next three years, his department said.

He set out a series of priorities for the sector:
* increasing student numbers by 60,000 for those entering higher education for the first time or taking a higher level qualification by 2010/11
* fostering closer ties between universities and industry, with an aim of 15,000 more full-time students being co-funded by employers by 2010/11
* a target of 100,000 foundation degree enrolments by 2010
* more two-year compressed honours degrees
* widening participation across the country
* stronger links between universities, schools and colleges
* building on the programme of investment in research and innovation

Mr Denham said: "The government is investing more in higher education than ever before with record numbers of students going to university. By 2011, funding for higher education will have increased by over 30% in real terms since 1997, but with increased financial support comes a higher expectation on institutions to widen participation and reach out to new talent by working more closely with schools and employers. I believe the opportunities of higher education should be open to all and I am confident that by increasing the number of students in higher education we will deliver a highly skilled workforce and world class research to ensure an economically competitive UK fit for the 21st century."


Readers will know my previous comments on higher education funding proposals. Let me know respond to the latest round:

First, we must ask if there will be extra cash for new students. The present allocation of 2.5% may not be enough to cover the costs of students. According to the National Statistics, inflation is currently at (CPI) 2.1% -- but the RPI is at 4.0% (and RPIX at 3.1%). Even if not a cut, then universities have never received enough funding from the government in recent years to cover teaching provision: these losses are made up through research income. It is one thing to say that universities can admit more students (and the recent top-up fee increase to £3,000 for UK/EU students has helped). However, it is something else to offer proper funding for these new places.

Secondly, the cash seems to come from both streamlining programmes and getting funding from industry. Thus, at least 15,000 of the 60,000 new student places . . . are to funded through university and industry partnerships, and not by the government or higher fees. (This assumes that industry will have an interest in sponsoring such deals.) This move is coupled with 'streamlining' the traditional British B.A. degree from its current three year course to just two years.

This latter move may work against the former plan. Let me explain. The government wants universities to explore and develop new links with industry. The idea seems to be (a) let industry foot an increasing part of the bill for higher educaton, saving the taxpayer some cash, and (b) these new links will help foster a more employable workforce. At the same time, streamlining the B.A. degree to just two years is allegedly a move to make this more employable workforce ready for employment earlier, in two years rather than three. (And the shorter timeframe will be cheaper: this is a constant goal of a party founding itself on the mantra 'education, education, education' curiously enough.)

The problem with this plan is that I doubt shrinking further the length of a B.A. will create a better workforce. If we were serious about the needs of the workplace, then surely flexibility should be a priority. Over the last few decades in the UK, United States, and elsewhere, we have seen region after region transform their economy. My own city of Newcastle upon Tyne is no exception. About ten years ago, more coal was transported along the Tyne River than anywhere else on the planet. Today, the coal industry is virtually gone. Banking and IT form the dominant sector, with the University of Newcastle the city's largest employer. The trick is not getting degrees partly paid for by a firm in one industry or sector in as short a time as possible, but creating a more dynamic and flexible workforce that can move from sector to sector.

The solution to this problem may be to move to a liberal arts. In the UK, students normally study just one subject during their three years. Thus, most of our students in Politics classes are taking Single Honours Politics degrees. A large minority study joint degrees, such as Politics & History or Politics & Economics, where students take classes in just two subjects during their three years. Some students study in 'Combined Honours', choosing two or even three subjects. Thus, no one studies more than two or three subjects at university during their three years. This has the tremendous advantage ---which no British university has yet fully capitalized on in my knowledge--- of appealling to students who only want to study just one or two subjects....and finish in three years. The disadvantage may be that if you study just one or two subjects, then you don't study four or more subjects. Students ---as in the United States and elsewhere--- increasingly study one subject and then work in a different subject. (I am no different: I originally received a music degree, later studying philosophy and now work in a politics department.) It may be the time to begin a wider conversation about the value of introducing a strong liberal arts programme in the United Kingdom that might better prepare our students for an increasingly dynamic and everchanging workplace, rather than the government's (characteristically) shortsighted proposal that will see students more narrow than ever. In my view, this may be a mistake.

Finally, Denham expects us all to create these new forged relationships with industry, lecture in more teaching-intensive 'compressed' degree programmes, and (a) increase widening participation, (b) create stronger links with schools, and (c) generate further 'investment in research and innovation' (on 'innovation' read 'get money from industry to fund your research'). These are a lot of potentially conflicting goals to face all at once, and near impossible to achieve in a year or two given the already dramatic changes regarding student numbers. When will any of us have time to write the papers and books that count for the forthcoming REF?

In any event, I am hardly surprised to find Denham's proposals shortsighted and ill conceived, even if I might agree (in principle) with widening participation, etc. The big question to take away from all of this is whether or not it is time to push for a liberal arts curriculum in the UK. My own view is that this time is nearly here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. at the University of Newcastle

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States. It is then fitting to post something on King that may be of interest, and not well known beyond colleagues in Newcastle.

Surely, one of the proudest moments at the University of Newcastle was when it awarded an honorary Doctor of Civil Law to Martin Luther King, Jr. on November 13, 1967. King was assassinated five months later.

The photo on the left was taken of King on the day. Further details of this award can be found here. In addition, there is actual film footage of King's speech to the university that can be found here! I highly recommend a viewing of the speech, given in our Armstrong Building . . . where Newcastle students continue to receive their degrees today.

Friday, January 18, 2008

NEW Publishing Advice for Graduate Students

Over the years, I have offered what is now an annual 'speech' on publishing advice aimed at graduate students and junior academics. I recorded much of my early talks in a paper, first posted on the Political Studies Association's postgraduate website, and later on the Social Science Research Network expecting little to follow beyond, hopefully, helping a few understand publishing better. The response was extraordinary. The essay fast became the most downloaded document on the PSA postgraduate site and the paper has now been downloaded 2,119 times since December 2005. This original essay ('The Postgraduate's Guide to Getting Published') can be downloaded here.

Since originally posting that paper, I have received much advice since and I have developed my speech far more than before to include book contracts, in addition to articles. At long last, I have written a far more substantial essay 'Publishing Advice for Graduate Students' that is available on SSRN here. The paper's abstract is:

"Graduate students often lack concrete advice on publishing. This essay is an attempt to fill this important gap. Advice is given on how to publish everything from book reviews to articles, replies to book chapters, and how to secure both edited book contracts and authored monograph contracts, along with plenty of helpful tips and advice on the publishing world (and how it works) along the way in what is meant to be a comprehensive, concrete guide to publishing that should be of tremendous value to graduate students working in any area of the humanities and social sciences."

I have tried to provide what is---I hope---excellent advice on virtually all areas of publishing: book reviews, replies/discussions/research notes, articles, book chapters, edited books, and monographs. I am constantly updating my publishing advice and I would greatly welcome any feedback readers might have to offer.

Please do feel free to forward the link to this paper--- ---far and wide.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Newcastle Ethics, Legal, & Political Philosophy Workshop Series - Spring 2008

Newcastle University

Spring 2008 seminar schedule

13th February
Willie Charlton (Edinburgh)
"Plato’s Social Psychology"

27th February
Professor Leslie Green (Oxford)
"Positivism and the Inseparability of Law and Morals"

12th March
Professor Paul Kelly (London School of Economics)
"What’s the Problem with ‘Culture’?"

16th April
Professor John Baker (University College Dublin)
"Dimensions of Equality"

30th April
Dr James Wilberding (Classics, Newcastle)
"The Auxiliary and the Timocrat: Plato and the Desire for Honor"

7th May
Professor David Clarke (Music, Newcastle)
"Music and the Politics of Cultural Pluralism"

14th May
Dr David Rose (Philosophical Studies, Newcastle)
"Hegel, Communitarians, and the Liberal Assumption"

All meetings will take place in the Politics Building room G6 at Newcastle University from 4.00-6.00pm. Meetings are free and open to the public.

In addition, we will hold two half day workshops. The first is planned for Tuesday, 5th February on the topic of political participation. Speakers will include William Maloney (Newcastle), John Parkinson (York), and Jurg Steiner (UNC-Chapel Hill). The second workshop is on deliberative democracy and planned for April. Speakers will include Thom Brooks (Newcastle), Ian O'Flynn (Newcastle), and Robert Talisse (Vanderbilt). Finally, we are planning two major conferences in about one year's time. The first will take place in March 2009 with Philip Pettit (Princeton) and the second will take place in June 2009 with Martha Nussbaum (Chicago). More details will follow over the next couple months.

For more details on any of these events, please contact me (email: t.brooks at or phone: +44 (0)191 222 5288).