Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Punishment" book has new Facebook group website

. . . HERE!

Interview with New Books in Philosophy to be launched shortly about Punishment as well. Watch this space...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Downing Street: 'Go Home' signs working - and we don't have any 'figures' to confirm this

The British Government has spent just under £10,000 on a pilot project to remove illegal immigrants from the UK. It consists of leaflets and a van with a sign stating "In the UK Illegally? Text HOME to 78070". The Government has been heavily criticised for this pilot - even by coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats. One reason is this has been seen as unduly divisive with a potential to contribute to a breakdown in community trust and cohesion. A second reason is the pilot was unlikely to be very successful: what illegal immigrant would text the government so he or she could be removed from the country?

The Government - or at least the Tory leadership in the Government - has hit back claiming the signs were "working". However, it was admitted by the Home Office to the BBC that, in fact, they were not sure "what figures have been collated at this point" and no official results confirming success or failure have been released.

In other words, most have criticised these signs as divisive and/or unlikely to work and the Government says they have worked because, well, they said so without any firm evidence of support. We can only hope the Government gives greater consideration to evidence-based policy-making in future.

Wishful thinking is not a sign of anything "working" in the real world.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thom Brooks (ed.), Justice and the Capabilities Approach

. . . is reviewed in the current issue of Journal of Human Development and Capabilities here. The book can be found on Amazon here (USA) and here (UK).

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Barrier or Bridge? Serious problems revealed in the UK citizenship test

. . . is my latest blog post about the "Life in the UK" citizenship test published at Democratic Audit.

Friday, July 19, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Government confirms it is "not able to make a reliable estimate" on so-called health tourism in Britain

The British Government has recently launched a consultation about introducing charges for the use of the NHS by non-British individuals. This is part of an effort to combat alleged "health tourism" costing the UK from anywhere from £12 million to over a billion pounds each year.

But is this true?

The Guardian ran a recent piece examining the numbers here.

However, it appears that the UK Government does not, in fact, have evidence of health tourism. This was uncovered in a written question presented to the Home Office by the Revd Lord (Roger) Roberts, a Liberal Democrat Peer. He asks:

"To ask Her Majesty’s Government what evidence they have about the impact of health tourism on the NHS budget."

The Government's reply is striking. The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Quality) for Health, the Conservative Peer Earl Howe states:

So it now appears -- confirmed days after Hunt's original claims -- that the Government, in fact, has no real evidence of health tourism nor can it offer any official view on what it might cost, if anything.
Saying one thing to grab headlines, but then hoping no one - such as the sleuth-like Lord Rogers - will uncover that the Emperor has no clothes (or at least none they can confirm). Surprising? Not from this Government....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Life in the UK test....the movie!

. . . change be found here. (Link includes interview with artist behind film and links to my criticisms of the test.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Criminal Harms"

. . . is a chapter from my forthcoming edited book, Law and Legal Theory, appearing later this year from Brill. The book contains several chapters previously published (by others) in the Journal of Moral Philosophy and some revised pieces not previously published in their current form.

The abstract for "Criminal Harms" is:

"What is a crime? A common answer is that crimes are harms. One particular argument is that morality forms the connection between crimes and harms: crimes are not any kind of harm, but specifically a kind of immorality. This position is consistent with natural law jurisprudence which claims that law and morality are inseparably linked. It is also consistent with standard defences of retribution whereby punishment is justified where deserved and to the degree deserved. Retributivist desert is present for individuals that possess some degree of moral responsibility for causing or attempting to cause evil. For example, the murderer deserves severe punishment because he is morally responsible for another person’s death and this act is sufficiently evil to warrant severe punishment.
The idea that crimes are harms to morals—and so their immorality informs their criminality and the corresponding severity of punishment—has also found favour with so-called ‘expressivist’ theories of punishment defended by Joel Feinberg, Antony Duff and others. These theories argue that punishment has an expressivist function of communication public disapproval to criminal offenders for their moral wrongdoings where punishment is proportionate to immorality.
The justification of crimes as harms to morals is part of a venerable tradition that has come to be increasingly seen as discredited. Most academics working in law (and even more practising lawyers) reject natural law jurisprudence and support some version of the separability thesis of legal positivism where law and morality are held to be separable, but not intrinsically and necessarily linked. Yet, curiously, retributivist theories, including expressivism, have been on the ascendency with a growing number of legal philosophers defending the idea of crimes as harms to morals and, therefore, moving in a contrary direction to most others working in law and academic law.

I believe this general position is deeply problematic and should be rejected. This chapter focuses specifically on expressivist theories as the increasingly more popular variant of retributivism in academic circles today. The next section provides an overview of expressivism. The following sections argue that it is not compelling both as a view about the criminal law, but also as a theory about punishment. I close the chapter with ideas about criminal harms might be better understood. I argue that crimes might be a kind of harm, but not the kinds of harm endorsed by retributivists and, more specifically, expressivists."

Go HERE to see the paper.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Politics and the Life in the UK citizenship test

. . . is my new post at the Political Studies Association blog found HERE.

The Problems with the Life in the UK test

. . . is my guest blog post for the British Sociological Association - Postgraduate Forum found HERE.

The top 10 things Britons get wrong about Britain

. . . can be found here covering crime, demographics and welfare. At least none must sit the 'Life in the UK' citizenship test with the serious problems exposed here before!

Monday, July 08, 2013

20,000 downloads milestone

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is the global number 1 'open access' database available. My first contribution was my paper on publishing advice for graduate students in December 2005. The two versions of this paper have since been downloaded over 12,000 times and my work has now passed the 20,000 downloads milestone. My papers can be accessed HERE.

Not unlike many legal philosophers, I became aware about the SSRN through Brian Leiter. SSRN has had a great imapct on my research and I regularly receive some terrific feedback after posting papers online. If any reader is not yet using SSRN, then I'd strongly recommend you start using it now.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Life in the UK report discussed in the House of Lords

. . . HERE. The report can be downloaded here.

Failing the test on immigration

. . . is my latest piece for Progress Online, the website of the Labour group Progress.

"Health tourism" and the NHS

. . . the facts uncovered in this piece at The Guardian, including an interview with me here.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Paper-hungry courts put on digital diet

. . . is my latest piece for The Conversation and found HERE.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Life in the UK citizenship test: where are the women?

. . . is my guest blog post at Inherently Human with a special focus on gender imbalance in the Life in the UK  citizenship test.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Denis Kilcommons on the UK citizenship test and me

. . . can be found HERE (from the Huddersfield Examiner). An excerpt:

"I HAVE just failed the British citizenship test. Does this mean I will be deported to my last foreign port of call? I hope not. I don’t want to be an American.

Neither did Dr Thom Brooks of Durham University. The American-born academic decided to become British two years ago and, as part of his application, had to take the Life In The United Kingdom test

This test doesn’t deal in anything like what ordinary folk round the bar or at the church fete might consider general knowledge. It has been called impractical and irrelevant and there have been calls for it to be reformed.

Dr Brooks describes it as a bad pub quiz that is unfit for purpose.

“Many citizens that were born and bred in the UK would struggle to know the answers to many of these questions.”

And he’s right. [. . .]"

Monday, July 01, 2013

How to referee papers for academic journals

. . . can be found out HERE. The abstract:

"This essay offers clear practical advice on how to act as a referee when asked to review an article for an academic journal. The advice is also relevant for reviewing manuscript proposals for academic publishers. My advice is based on my experiences in editing an academic journal, the Journal of Moral Philosophy, and four book series. I will draw on these experiences throughout as illustrations. The structure of the advice is as follows. First, I will begin by saying a few words about the academic publishing industry. Secondly, I will discuss whether one should accept or decline an invitation to review. Thirdly, I will examine the question of what appropriate standard should be applied when reviewing submissions. Finally, I conclude with advice on how to draft a report before submitting it to an editor."