Thursday, February 28, 2013

Alcohol and Public Policy

. . . my latest piece found here in a special issue of Contemporary Social Science on this topic. The abstract for my piece:

Alcohol and its consumption is a major topic for public policy-making. Increases in public debate have come about through the growing awareness of the alcohol-related health problems among the general public. This article provides an important overview of the leading contemporary work in this area and the significant contributions made by social scientists.

Contemporary Social Science is the journal of the Academy of Social Sciences (which voted to offer me membership as an Academician in 2009).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Microsoft "Scholar"?

I recently came across this website - a kind of alternatvie to Google Scholar. Much of the information is incorrect concerning co-authors, publications and citations, but the graphics are interesting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Joseph Raz on "Death in Our Life"

. . .  is out now in the Journal of Applied Philosophy here (subscription-only):

This paper examines a central aspect of the relations between duration and quality of life by considering the moral right to voluntary euthanasia, and some aspects of the moral case for a legal right to euthanasia. Would widespread acceptance of a right to voluntary euthanasia lead to widespread changes in attitudes to life and death? Many of its advocates deny that, seeing it as a narrow right enabling people to avoid ending their life in great pain or total dependence, or a vegetative state. I argue that the right cannot cogently be conceived as a narrow right, confined to very limited circumstances. It is based on the value of having the normative power to choose the time and manner of one's death. Its recognition will be accompanied by far reaching changes in culture and attitudes, and these changes will enrich people's life by enabling them to integrate their death as part of their lives.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Matthew Liao is new Editor of the Journal of Moral Philosophy

After 10 years, I have stepped down as Editor of the Journal of Moral Philosophy. I founded the JMP to fill an important gap in the literature and delighted to see how the journal has gone from strength to strength over the years. We now received over 250 submissions annually and have an acceptance rate of about 5-8%.

I am delighted to announce that S. Matthew Liao (New York University) has agreed to serve as Editor from January 2013. I will join a new team of "Associate Editors" that will include Tim Mulgan (St Andrews) and others to be confirmed shortly. This is fantastic news for the JMP and I'm thrilled that Matthew is now in place as the journal continues to go from strength to strength.

Friday, February 15, 2013

British Idealism Studies -- join today!

I had the honour of becoming the new Treasurer and Membership Secretary of the British Idealism specialist group, partly funded by the Political Studies Association.


During the middle of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, British Idealism was the dominant philosophy in Britain and permeated the whole English-speaking world with the writings and influence of such exponents as T.H. Green, F.H.Bradley, Bernard Bosanquet, Edward Caird, Henry Jones, Andrew Seth, D.G.Ritchie, J.S.Mackenzie, William Wallace, J.M.E.McTaggart, John Watson, J.H.Muirhead, R.G.Collingwood, and Michael Oakeshott. The British Idealists introduced into Britain the philosophical discourse of German, and later Italian Idealism and made an important re-assessment of its cardinal doctrines. Furthermore, they were critically engaged in a fruitful philosophical dialogue with the Italian and American exponents of Philosophical Idealism and with the representatives of different philosophical traditions such as utilitarianism, realism and pragmatism. The British Idealists were influenced by Greek classical political thought (especially by the political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle), by the philosophical system of German Idealism (Kant, Fichte, Hegel), and by the insights of the British philosophical tradition (Hobbes, Hume, Locke). They produced philosophical work which made original contributions to Aesthetics, Logic, Metaphysics, Theology, philosophy of history and Social and Political Philosophy. Their Social and Political Philosophy is, probably, the most important project because it contains the practical application of the conceptual and normative systems they elaborated and developed. The main achievements of the political philosophy of the British Idealists were:
  • To develop an important and significant relation between theory and practice, between philosophical speculation and social work, politics, and social policy;
  • To elaborate a comprehensive scheme concerning the philosophical foundations of politics;
  • To emphasise the fundamental relation between Society, State and the Individual and, thus, to oppose narratives and interpretations of social and political life that focus on the claims of a narrow atomistic individualism;
  • To propound a more comprehensive version of liberal political theory by emhasising the intrinsic interdependence between society and the individuals, and to develop a political philosophy structured around the key-concept of the commitment to the Common Good; and
  • To have influenced public policy by active participation in politics.
The recent revival of interest in the moral, social, and political philosophy of the British Idealists requires systematic research into the meaning, significance and contribution of the doctrines they developed. They have a contemporary relevance in that they address such issues as the role of the state; theorise communitarianism; seek to extend the moral community beyond state borders; and, theorise about rights. The British Idealism Specialist Group will encourage research and study focused on the corpus of the British Idealists' writings in relation to themes which are associated with broader issues in the areas of political science, ethics, social and political philosophy, history of ideas, British and Continental political thought, sociology, and social policy. There is no restriction on the methodological and interpretative approaches employed and new innovative interdisciplinary projects of re-assessment, critical examination, and reconstruction of the British Idealists' philosophy are welcome. The British Idealism Specialist Group has three main foci which cover the following areas of research:
Theory of the State; the nature of the State and its contribution to the individual's self-realisation and the progress of society; the limits of State action; the question of structure and agency; government; political obligation; authority and autonomy; the Common Good, Will and Freedom; ethical socialism and theories of property; social and international justice; punishment, character-building; legal philosophy; the State and International Relations in philosophical perspective: cosmopolitanism, patriotism, nationalism, international justice and human rights, citizenship, identity and universality; Democracy and Liberalism.
Ethics and Community; Care, Social Policy and decision-making; mind, spirituality, human nature and character; Individuality, Politics and the aesthetic dimension; the phenomenological perspective: consciousness and identity, meaning, nature and the hermeneutics of self-experience; conceptions of the self, pluralism, multiculturalism, rights, recognition and self-determination; social action and agency.
British Idealism and issues in contemporary political philosophy: the debate between liberals and communitarians; feminist perspective; methodological and epistemological issues related to the study of Political Science and Political Philosophy; British Idealism and other philosophical traditions (utilitarianism, pragmatism, realism, individualism, evolutionary theories); comparisons between British Idealism and other brands of Philosophical Idealism (German, American, Greek and Italian); British Idealism and theories of Modernity and Post-Modernity; the contribution of British Idealism to British Political Thought and to Political Philosophy in general.
1. Panels.To organise 1-2 panels on the topic of British Idealism at the Annual Political Studies Association Conference, and other occasional day conferences at various venues.
2. The Annual Conference of the Specialist Group. Initial preparations are in hand to hold the first conference at Gregynog, University of Wales, for which some funding is available.
3. Communications. The circulation among the members of a Directory with the names and e-mail addresses of the members.
4. Annual Report. Preparation of the Annual Report of the Specialist Group submitted to the PSA.
Membership runs for one calendar year from 1 January.
There is a sliding scale of membership charges, but each category is of equal status and will not be designated on the membership card.
Senior Staff£6.00
Postgraduates and Tutors£2.00
The aim is to encourage as many interested scholars as possible to join without making the membership fee prohibitive.
If you are interested in joining us please contact the Membership Secretary (below)

Professor David Boucher, Professorial Fellow, The School of European Studies, Cardiff University, Humanities Building, P.O. Box 908, Cardiff CF1 3YQ
Andrew Vincent, Professor of Political Theory, The School of European Studies, Cardiff University, Humanities Building, P.O. Box 908, Cardiff CF1 3YQ

Dr Maria Dimova-Cookson, School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University, Durham DH1 3TU
Dr Thom Brooks, Durham Law School, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE (email: thom.brooks at

Ronald Dworkin (1931-2013)

Links to various obituaries can be found on Brian Leiter's Leiter Reports. Several colleagues have noted special memories of Dworkin and this seems a good time to do the same.

I never met Ronald Dworkin, but we wrote to each other a few times when I was a graduate student at the University of Sheffield. My Ph.D. topic was Hegel's political and legal philosophy. The thesis had an introduction with four chapters - each "self-standing" and leading to several publications in the Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain (on Hegel and punishment), History of Political Thought (on Hegel and monarchy), Review of International Studies (on Hegel and international relations), and two papers on Hegel's legal theory published in Georgia State University Law Review and Res Publica. My Ph.D. thesis was later expanded and published as Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of Philosophy of Right in 2007 with the paperback edition appearing in 2009 and a new second edition out this year.

My largest chapter concerned a critical comparison of Hegel and Dworkin regarding their legal theories, later published as "Between Natural Law and Legal Positivism: Dworkin and Hegel on Legal Theory" (and my position has changed somewhat since then - see my "Natural Law Internalism" published in Hegel's Philosophy of Right (Blackwell, 2012)). I argued that one reason why many scholars have had some difficulty in classifying the legal theories of both Dworkin and Hegel is because each offers a novel perspective -- and, interestingly (at least for me), this perspective - of Natural Law Internalism - is broadly similar. One consequence is that each is subject to similar problems that further distinguish their views from others.

I wrote on a few occasions to Professor Dworkin by email to say that I was deeply engaged with his work and was curious about what he thought of my draft chapter. It didn't take long for him to reply - and by a letter in the post each time - always gracious for my messages and full of encouragement. On one occasion he noted that he had long been "intrigued" by the possible connections between Hegel's views and his own.

I remember the great feeling I had of receiving such comments on my doctoral work by such a major figure despite our never having met. While I always sent my thanks, I never had the opportunity to thank him personally. But I like to believe I might continue the generous spirit of support to others from my much lower position that Dworkin (and many others) showed me.

While I've remained critical of many elements in his work, it is true that I probably would not have become interested in legal philosophy when I did if it wasn't for Dworkin. He will be missed -- and reminds me to complete at long last a substantial critique on the role of principles in his work I've left on the philosophical work bench for too long as a small tribute (of sorts).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"In Defence of Political Theory: Impact and Opportunities"

. . . is forthcoming at Political Studies Review (to be published this spring) and available online here. The abstract:

This essay will present the impact that political theory has made and the opportunities for future contributions. It will consider the contributions made by leading political theorists to policy debates, the lessons learned from their successes, and how political theorists might further pursue existing and new opportunities to develop impact. The discussion will close with consideration of several potential threats that theorists should become more aware of in order to best avoid them. The growing importance of impact in British higher education policy represents important challenges that may help promote the field of political theory. Political theorists should welcome these developments.
This essay is part of a special issue on "impact" and political science. There has been some disquiet by some who argue that the so-called "impact agenda" of recent governments is bad news for political theorists. While I don't embrace the impact agenda, I argue that political theorists can benefit.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stakeholder Sentencing

My new paper, "Stakeholder Sentencing," is now uploaded on SSRN and forthcoming in Julian Roberts and Jesper Ryberg (eds), Popular Punishment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). The abstract:

Recent years have witnessed increasing interest in how to provide new avenues for incorporating a greater public voice in sentencing (see Roberts and Hough 2005; Ryberg 2010). This development is the product of a widely perceived growing crisis concerning the lack of public confidence in sentencing decisions. One important factor is negative media headlines that draw attention to cases that contribute to feeding a culture of sentencing disapproval by the public where punishments are believed to be undeservedly lenient. A second factor is the recognition that victims should have greater involvement in the criminal justice system, including sentencing decisions. But how might we improve public confidence and provide a greater voice for victims without sacrificing criminal justice in favour of mob rule?

These developments concerning the relation of public opinion and punishment raise several fundamental concerns. How much voice, if any, should the public have regarding sentencing decisions? Which institutional frameworks should be constructed to better incorporate public opinion without betraying our support for important penal principles and support for justice?

This chapter accepts the need to improve public confidence about sentencing through improving avenues for the public to posses a greater and better informed voice about sentencing decisions within clear parameters of justice. I will defend the idea of stakeholder sentencing: those who have a stake in penal outcomes should determine how they are decided. This idea supports an extension of restorative justice I will call punitive restoration where the achievement of restoration may include a more punitive element, including imprisonment. My argument is that the idea of stakeholder sentencing offers a compelling view about public opinion might be better incorporated into sentencing that promotes a coherent and unified account of how punishment might pursue multiple penal goals, including improving public confidence in sentencing.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New link to Kindle eBook of Punishment here!

Friday, February 08, 2013

CFP: Locating Restorative Justice within Criminal Justice: Challenges in Theory and Practice

Conference hosted by the Durham Law School, Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. 2nd-3rd May 2013


Call for Papers


Restorative approaches have emerged as important innovations to criminal offending and are exerting a strong influence in many criminal justice systems. The influence of restorative justice is developing as policymakers have become concerned about the capacity of the traditional criminal system to deliver participatory processes and fair outcomes that are capable of benefiting victims, offenders and society at large.


This conference will examine the role of restorative justice within criminal justice and considers the intersection between theory and the practical delivery of justice. It will provide a forum for researchers and practitioners to explore the challenges which lie ahead as restorative justice assumes a more central role in criminal justice policymaking.



Proposals for papers should be sent either to Jonathan Doak ( or to David O’Mahony ( before Friday, 15th March 2013. Proposals should be no longer than 150 words.


There is no charge for conference speakers. Places are limited.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Varieties of Understanding

Fordham's "Varieties of Understanding" Project
The Philosophy Department at Fordham University is pleased to announce its three-year “Varieties of Understanding” project.

The project will sponsor research in psychology, philosophy, and theology that will examine the various ways in which human beings understand the world, how these various types of understanding might be improved, and how they might be combined with one another to produce an integrated understanding of the world.

For more details, and for information on how to apply for funding, please see the project website:

The project is supported by a 3.56 million dollar grant from the John Templeton Foundation, with additional support from the Henry Luce Foundation, Fordham University, and the University of California, Berkeley

"Funders should be providing open access, not buying it"

. . . my new piece for the current issue (30 January 2013) of Research Fortnightly (see here - behind pay wall).

Friday, February 01, 2013

Three open posts in Law at Durham University

 The link is here. The full details:

Job Details

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Chair/Reader in Law

Reference Number
Durham City
Social Sciences and Health
Durham Law School
Position Type
Full Time
Contract Type
Closing Date
4 March 2013

Job Description

Durham Law School seeks to make three appointments at the following levels: 1 x Chair/Reader in Law and 2 x Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Law. The Law School welcomes applications from exceptional scholars working in any area of legal scholarship, although for one of the three appointments expertise and ability to teach in public international law (including international investment law) would be welcome.

Durham University is consistently ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, and Durham Law School is one of the UK's leading centres for legal research and teaching. We ranked joint fourth in the UK in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) in terms of the proportion of research activity ranked at the highest 4* level. The School achieved the top rating of ‘Excellent’ for its teaching in our most recent Quality Assurance Agency inspection, and we are consistently rated one of the leading UK law schools in various league tables. Our academic and research staff, together with our undergraduate and postgraduate students, comprise a dynamic and focused intellectual community. Our courses are highly regarded, entry is very competitive and we select a diverse student intake from across the world.

Successful applicants will be in post on or before 1 October 2013. Applicants should clearly state in their application which post or posts they wish to be considered for. Shortlisted applicants will be asked to provide samples of their publications prior to interview.


Persons appointed to these posts will be exceptional scholars with research and teaching records appropriate to their level of appointment and as further detailed in the person specification, which can be accessed by clicking ‘apply’ and should be fully addressed by applicants. Successful applicants will demonstrate the ability to pursue research leading to publications that are internationally excellent/world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour; pursue suitable funding opportunities to support their research; contribute appropriately to the delivery of research postgraduate supervision; contribute to curriculum development and teaching on the Undergraduate or LLM programmes in the Law School; and undertake administrative responsibilities as allocated by the Head of School. Appointees will become active members of the dynamic and innovative community of scholarship in Durham Law School, which includes a number of research groups that act as a focus for activity, including the Durham Institute for Global Security, the Institute for Commercial and Corporate Law, the Human Rights Centre, the Durham European Law Institute, the Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, the Gender and Law at Durham research group, the Law and Conflict group and the newly-founded Centre for Ethics, Law and the Life Sciences.

Person Specification

Person Specification: Chair/Reader in Law
(E) - Essential
(D) - Desirable

Good first degree in law or a cognate disciple (E) (1)

• Research postgraduate degree or professional qualifications or equivalent (E) (2)

• A sustained record of published academic output at international/world-leading levels of excellence, with a demonstrated potential to continue to produce outputs at that level. (E) (3)

• Demonstrable potential for, or a record of, producing research that generates impact (broadly understood) beyond the academic community (D)(4)

• A record of generating significant research funding with a demonstrated potential to continue to generate such funding (E) (5)

• Evidence of strong teaching ability (E) (6)

• Evidenced commitment to the mentoring and guidance of early-career academic staff. (E) (7)

• Demonstrable potential for, or a record of, providing academic leadership in shaping of the future of your discipline, within the international community and at institutional level, as appropriate for the level of the post. (E) (8)

• Demonstrable potential for, or a record of, academic and general leadership skills, coupled with the drive and ability to make a significant contribution to your School/Department and broadly within the University, as appropriate for the level of the post. (E) (9)

• Commitment to international research excellence, including a record of planning and delivering collaborative projects or the demonstrable potential to do so. (E) (10)

• Excellent supervision skills and keen interest in teaching and learning development. (E) (11)
Person Specification: Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Law
(E) - Essential
(D) - Desirable

For all grades:
Good first degree in law or a cognate discipline (E)

Completed or close to completing a research postgraduate degree in law or a cognate discipline (E)

Grade 7

• Demonstrated potential to produce and publish research outputs at international/world-leading levels of excellence (E)

• Demonstrable potential for producing research that generates impact (broadly understood) beyond the academic community (E)

• Ability to deliver effective undergraduate and/or postgraduate teaching in law (E)

• Experience of submitting (including in collaboration with others) viable bids for external funding (D)

• Demonstrable potential to successfully undertake administrative roles or experience of undertaking such roles (E)

Grade 8
• Record of producing and publishing research outputs at international/world-leading levels of excellence (E)

• Demonstrable potential for, or a record of, producing research that generates impact (broadly understood) beyond the academic community, as appropriate for the level of the post (D)

• Experience of delivering effective undergraduate and/or postgraduate teaching in law (E)

• The ability to attract and successfully supervise doctoral students (D)

• A record of submitting (including in collaboration with others) viable bids for external funding (E)

• Experience of successfully undertaking administrative roles (E)

Grade 9
• An established profile of important and innovative research and publications which are internationally excellent and influential in their originality, significance and rigour (E)

• A track record generating externally sourced research funding with a demonstrated potential to continue to generate such funding (E)

• An established record of delivering excellent undergraduate teaching (E)

• Clear evidence of the ability to attract and successfully supervise doctoral students (E)

• Evidence of academic leadership and experience of successfully undertaking administrative roles (E)

Additional Information & Interview Date

Lecturer / Senior Lecturer - Interviews are expected to take place week commencing 18 March 2013.
Chair / Reader - Presentations are expected to take place on 21 March and Interviews on 22 March 2013.