Friday, October 31, 2014

CFP: Northwestern University conference on ethics and political philosophy

CFP re: faculty and students - keynote speakers are Frances Kamm and Joseph Raz

Submission Guidelines: We welcome submissions from faculty and graduate students, as some sessions will be reserved for student presentations.  Please submit an essay of approximately 4000 words.  Essay topics in all areas of ethical theory and political philosophy will be considered, although some priority will be given to essays that take up themes from the work of Frances Kamm and Joseph Raz, such as authority, death and dying, duties, freedom, law, moral status, normativity, permissible harm and killing, practical reason, responsibility, rights, terrorism, torture, value, and war.  Essays should be prepared for blind review in word, rtf, or pdf format.  Graduate submissions should be sent by e-mail to;  faculty submissions should be sent by e-mail to   The deadline is February 15, 2015.  Notices of acceptance will be sent by March 15.  For more information, please contact Kyla Ebels-Duggan at the e-mail address above or visit our website:


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Durham University - Research Fellowships

NOTE: Interested readers should contact me about these opportunities.
Durham University is delighted to announce its 2015/16 International Fellowship Scheme, designed to attract the most talented researchers in Europe and beyond, and to build international networks of scholars with a common passion for today’s most important research challenges.

2015/16 Junior Research Fellowships
Up to 21 Junior Research Fellowships are available (REF: 4076) starting salary will be in the range £31,324 – £35,256 p.a. The closing date is 05 December 2014. Details can be found at:

2015/16 Senior Fellowships
Up to 16 Senior Research Fellowships and 8 Policy & Enterprise Fellowships are available. These Fellowships are available for periods of 6 weeks to 6 months between October 2015 and September 2016 (with a typical stay of 3 months). Applications are considered from researchers with an established or emerging international reputation for scholarship or research leadership. The closing date is 09 January 2015. Details can be found at:

Full details about the Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise and how to apply can be found at:  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Beyond Retribution - in Think

My article "Beyond Retribution" is in the current issue of Think and can be found here. The abstract:

Retribution enjoys an unwarranted appeal from the public and its politicians. This is because it is impractical and perhaps even incoherent. This does not mean that we should reject the importance of morality for criminal justice nor should we reject the link between desert and proportionality. Nevertheless, we can reject the way retribution has understood these ideas in defense of a more plausible and compelling alternative.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

UKIP must adapt - or it will die

My latest piece for Newcastle's The Journal which can be found HERE.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Defence of Punishment and the Unified Theory of Punishment: A Reply

. . . can be found here at SSRN to download. The abstract:

Punishment is a major contribution to contemporary debates concerning the philosophy of punishment. The book advances three overlapping aims. The first is to provide the most comprehensive coverage of this fast moving field. While there are several excellent introductions available, they have become dated without substantive coverage of recent work on communicative theories of punishment or restorative justice, for example. A second aim of the book is to advance a new theory—the ‘unified theory’ of punishment—as a distinctive and compelling alternative to existing approaches. The third and final aim is to consider the relation of theory to practice in order to highlight the conceptual as well as more practical challenges each penal theory faces.

Mark Tunick raises several concerns with my analysis in Punishment. While noting is ‘in many respects an engaging work’, Tunick expresses reservations about my treatment of several penal theories, especially retributivism. He is especially critical of my unified theory of punishment and he has doubts even of the possible coherence of such an account. These are important issues and I am delighted to have this opportunity to clarify my position. I will begin by addressing Tunick’s criticisms of my treatment of some penal theories in general before turning to the central issue about the plausibility—even possibility—of a unified theory of punishment. Much of the concerns raised appear to rest on misinterpretations of my arguments, a problem that I have encountered before from Tunick in his review of my previous book which I also address.

The piece is forthcoming at Criminal Law and Philosophy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

University & College Union members vote to strike

The University & College Union (UCU) are in a trade dispute with employers concerning changes to the USS pension plan. The results of a ballot of UCU members:

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?

    Number of ballot papers counted: 17,212
    Number voting YES: 13,395 (77.8%)
    Number voting NO: 3,817 (22.2%)

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of a strike?

    Number of ballot papers counted: 17,154
    Number voting YES: 14,879 (86.7%)
    Number voting NO: 2,275 (13.3%)

The turn-out was about 45%.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Announcement: Cultural Heritage Ethics

An announcement I received and wanted to share:
Cultural Heritage Ethics is an intra-disciplinary book that bridges the gap between theory and practice by bringing together a stellar cast of academics, activists, consultants, journalists, lawyers, and museum practitioners, each contributing their own expertise to the wider debate of what cultural heritage means in the twenty-first century. The volume feels the pulse of the debate on heritage ethics by discussing timely issues such as access, acquisition, archaeological practice, curatorship, education, ethnology, historiography, integrity, legislation, memory, museum management, ownership, preservation, protection, public trust, restitution, human rights, stewardship, and tourism.

This volume is neither a textbook nor a manifesto for any particular approach to heritage ethics, but a snapshot of different positions and approaches that will inspire both thought and action.

Cultural Heritage Ethics provides invaluable reading for students and teachers of philosophy of archaeology, history and moral philosophy – and for anyone interested in the theory and practice of cultural preservation.


Cultural Heritage Ethics was published on 15th October 2014 and can be read for free online at where it is also available in inexpensive e-book, paperback and hardback editions.


Open Book Publishers is a non-profit organization, run by academics in Cambridge and London. We are committed to making high-quality research freely available to readers around the world. We rely on our friends and colleagues to assist in spreading the word about our books, and we thank you for your support.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Talking about asylum seekers, Middlesbrough and why the government should bring back the Migrant Impact Fund it scrapped

... can be heard here on BBC Radio Tees (from 2.07).

FACT: The current government has declined each and every opportunity to discuss immigration policy with me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14 is a great day

...because it is my birthday! On this date:

 *1066 - William the Conqueror wins the Battle of Hastings
*1322 - Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeats King Edward II of England, forcing recognition of Scotland's independence
* 1582 - This day did not exist this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal, or Spain because of implementation of the Gregorian calendar
* 1789 - George Washington proclaims the first Thanksgiving Day(!)* 1806 - The Battle of Jena: France defeats Prussia --- and an important event for young Hegel
*1843 - The British arrest Daniel O'Connell for conspiracy
*1912 - Teddy Roosevelt shot by an assassin while campaigning in Milwaukee. He continued to deliver his speech...with the bullet still lodged in him
*1926 - A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh is published for the first time
*1933 - Nazi Germany withdraws from the League of Nations
*1947 - Chuck Yeager is the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound
1956 - Dr B R Ambedkar converts to Buddhism - along with 385,000 of his followers
 *1962 - the Cuban Missile Crisis begins
* 1963 - the first time a newspaper uses the term "Beatlemania"
* 1964 - Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
* 1969 - Britain introduces the 50 pence coin, replacing the ten shilling note
* 1979 - the first Gay Rights March on Washington, DC
* 1982 - Ronald Reagan declares a 'War on Drugs'
* 1994 - Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres receive the Nobel Peace Prize

There are also several famous people who share my birthday, including:
Akbar (1582)
James II of England and VII of Scotland (1633)
William Penn (1644)
Eamon de Valera (1882)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890)
E. E. Cummings (1894)
Hannah Arendt (1906)
C. Everett Koop (1916)
Roger Moore (1927)
Ralph Lauren (1939)
Cliff Richard (1940)
Thomas Dolby (1958)
Steve Coogan (1965)

Famous deaths on this day include Harold Godwinson (1066, King of England), Errol Flynn (1959), Bing Crosby (1977) and Leonard Bernstein (1990).

October 14th is World Standards Day, World Organ Donation Day(?!), and Teacher's Day in Poland.

Monday, October 13, 2014

See no EVEL - On English devolution

. . . is my most recent piece for Progress Online, a Labour Party group. Direct link here.

An interview with me on how restorative justice can and should be reformed

. . . can be found at the Howard League for Penal Reform's website (from 1 min 30 secs). This is part of their What is Justice? series - and there are some fantastic clips.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Remove international students from immigration targets, says Durham lecturer

. . . is the headline for this online post from The Bubble, an online magazine based in Durham. The "Durham lecturer" interviewed is yours truly.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Prof Thom Brooks - Inaugural Lecture on "Why Hegel Matters"

My Inaugural Lecture on Why Hegel Matters takes places next week on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at University College, Durham (known locally as Durham Castle) from 8.00-9.00pm in the Senate Suite.

A brief blurb:

G. W. F. Hegel is a 19th Century philosopher widely held to be one of the most important and obscure in the canon. In his Inaugural Lecture, Professor Thom Brooks addresses why Hegel’s philosophical insights should have importance for us today in thinking about ethics, law and public policy.
Thom Brooks is Professor of Law and Government at Durham University’s Law School, Director of the Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice and an Associate member of the Philosophy Department. His books include Punishment (2012), Hegel’s Political Philosophy (2007, 2d 2013) and he co-edited Rawls’s Political Liberalism with Martha C. Nussbaum. Brooks is well known for his work in criminal justice - his ‘unified theory of punishment’ is identified by RCUK as one of the Top 100 Big Ideas for the Future (2009) – and immigration, publishing the only comprehensive report on the UK citizenship test which has been cited in several Parliamentary debates. Brooks is the 2014 ‘Lecturer of the Year’ for his Faculty.

Please register your attendance in advance of the event.