Monday, October 29, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Victory! For now...

On the AHRC and Big Society here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"A Conversation with David Miliband"

Many thanks again to Rt Hon David Miliband MP, the former Foreign Secretary, for taking part in "A Conversation with David Miliband" I hosted at Newcastle University. Highlights can be found here broadcast by Newcastle Student Radio. The discussion was informal and broad covering the leading challenges facing Britain, the EU, and international affairs in a major event drawing a standing room only audience for my last event at Newcastle ahead of my move to Durham Law School.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

David Miliband Q&A at Newcastle University

Of more local interest, I will be hosting my last event at Newcastle University before taking up a new position at Durham Law School in a few weeks:


All students welcome to a Q&A with the Labour MP and former Foreign Secretary

Date: Friday, 19th October 2012

Time: 3.00-4.00 pm

Venue: Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building, Newcastle University

Everyone is warmly welcome to a special Q&A with David Miliband where he will discuss his illuminating views on political developments in Britain, Europe and international affairs. Miliband is Labour MP for South Shields and former Foreign Secretary. Newcastle University’s Thom Brooks will host.

This event is free and all students are welcome to attend for what will be an engaging and insightful examination of political affairs viewed from the inside not to be missed!

Mitt Romney debates...himself!

Details here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The AHRC and Me: So What Happened Next?

Readers will recall our goal of convincing the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council to remove all references to "the Big Society" from its 5-year strategic plan for research funding. The "Big Society" was a Conservative Party campaign slogan during the 2010 general election. This strategic plan was the first that appears to make explicit references to such a campaign slogan. Many colleagues expressed some alarm - although this was not universal - that this might mark a worrying move away from the treasured "Haldane principle" whereby the government is not to influence research funding decisions.

Thousands of colleagues from the UK and abroad signed petitions calling on the AHRC to remove all references to the "Big Society" leading to over 50 senior members of the AHRC's own Peer Review College resigning together over this issue. Such activities may have been the largest show of academic opposition to a research council strategic plan. And yet nothing seemed to change.

Until now. The AHRC has published a draft of its next 5-year plan. Gone are the references to political campaign slogans (and there is no mention of the "Big Society"). Moreover, there is welcome language about the AHRC's efforts to further improve communication and support for and with its Peer Review College. These are highly welcome moves.

This is not to say the situation is now ok. There remain concerns that increasing amounts of AHRC funding will go to "themes" decided from above leading to less available funding for lone scholars - although this is yet to be confirmed.

Nonetheless, it may have taken over a year, but a victory at last of sorts. There is no place for political campaign slogans in strategic research funding plans. Period. It seems clear our collective voice has been heard.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Thom Brooks, Punishment (2012)

Thom Brooks, Punishment. New York & London: Routledge, 2012.

Punishment is a topic of increasing importance for citizens and policymakers. Why should we punish criminals? Which theory of punishment is most compelling? Is the death penalty ever justified? These questions and many others are addressed in this highly engaging guide.

Punishment is a critical introduction to the philosophy of punishment, offering a new and refreshing approach that will benefit readers of all backgrounds and interests. The first critical guide to examine all leading contemporary theories of punishment, this book explores – among others – the communicative theory of punishment, restorative justice, and the unified theory of punishment. Thom Brooks examines several case studies in detail, including capital punishment, juvenile offending, and domestic abuse. Punishment highlights the problems and prospects of different approaches in order to argue for a more pluralistic and compelling perspective that is novel and groundbreaking.

Punishment is a textbook designed to introduce both undergraduate and postgraduate students to the topic of punishment. It will be essential for undergraduate students in: philosophy, criminal justice, criminology, justice studies, law, politics, and sociology.


Lucid, fair-minded, and well-informed, Thom Brooks’ Punishment offers a superb introduction to a complex and contentious subject. Many a perplexed student will find illumination in his patient discussion of each of the leading theories. The way Brooks shows their interconnectedness and application in practice – to capital punishment, juvenile offenders, domestic violence, and the like – will interest not only students but scholars as well.
—Stuart P. Green, Distinguished Professor of Law and Nathan L. Jacobs Scholar, Rutgers School of Law

As a topic in moral and political philosophy, punishment has been jolted back to life. In the last quarter century, retribution has returned with a vengeance, both in the theoretical literature and (with a very different emphasis) in public policy. The rise of the victim as a player in the criminal justice system has also fuelled a counter-trend, placing an emphasis on redress. Human rights, privatization, globalization, the rise of the therapist, the lobbyist, the terrorist: all have affected our ways of punishing and of thinking about punishment. A new survey of the terrain is overdue. And who better to conduct it than Thom Brooks, whose grasp of the literature and feel for the issues is second to none? From the noble ideals of ‘communicative’ theory to the grim realities of children in prison: in Punishment Brooks covers it all with insight, rigour, and energy.
—John Gardner, Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Oxford

Thom Brooks has produced a valuable introduction to, and critical survey of, current theoretical approaches to punishment together with an analysis of their implications for practice. In addition, he has provided a spirited defence of a new, unified theory inspired by the British Idealists and encompassing retributive, consequentialist, and restorative elements. Written in a lucid and engaging style, the book will interest a wide range of readers – students, theorists of punishment, as well as those engaged in criminal justice policy.
—Alan Brudner, Albert Abel Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto


Preface. Introduction. Part I: General Theories 1. Retributivism 2. Deterrence 3. Rehabilitation 4. Restorative Justice Part II: Hybrid Theories 5. Rawls, Hart, and the ‘Mixed Theory’ 6. Expressivism 7. Unified Theory Part III: Case Studies 8. Capital Punishment 9. Juvenile Offenders 10. Domestic Abuse 11. Sexual Crimes. Conclusion. Bibliography. Index

Thom Brooks is Reader in Law at Durham University. He is the editor and founder of the Journal of Moral Philosophy.

Monday, October 08, 2012

"Moral Frankensteins"

. . . is the name of my latest publication appearing in the current issue of AJOB Neuroscience 3(4) (2012): 28-30 and found here. Easily, one of my favourite titles I've come up with.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

400,000 hits milestone

Today, the Brooks Blog has passed the 400,000 hits milestone. I am delighted by the attention this blog continues to receive and extremely grateful to readers for continuing to find this site of interest.

Much continues to change since the last 300,000 milestone passed in January 2011 (see here). For one thing, I shortly move institutions and head to Durham University and its Law School shortly. For another, I have wrapped up several existing commitments in order to make time for many others. I am stepping down as Editor of the Journal of Moral Philosophy later this year -- although I will remain on the board -- and completed my term as Chair of the APA Committee on Philosophy and Law.

While I expect to blog more frequently than of late, the next few weeks see several new book publications (with further details and links in due course):

Thom Brooks, Punishment (Routledge, 2012) - November

Thom Brooks, Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right, 2d ed (Edinburgh University Press, [2007, 2009] 2012) - December

Thom Brooks (ed.), Just War Theory (Brill, 2012) - December

There will then be publication of a five volume collection on Criminal Law and Philosophy out in early 2013. Details on all publications to follow shortly.

So much has changed and continues to change. My thanks as ever to you for your interest and support.