Professor of Legal Philosophy and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford
Fellow in Law, Balliol College, Oxford
Since October 2007, I have been the Dean of the Faculty of Law in the University of Oxford (the position was created in 2007).
I work in the philosophy of law and the theory of Constitutional and Administrative Law, with special interest in the use of language in law, and in the basic constitutional principles that justify certain forms of judicial control of the executive conduct of government. I have taught at Jesus, St.Anne's, and St.Catherine's Colleges, Oxford, and practised law in Toronto.
Administrative Law (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2009).
‘Vagueness and Legal Theory’, in Handbook on Vagueness, Giuseppina Ronzitti ed. (Springer, forthcoming 2009).
- Vagueness in law is typically extravagant. That is, it is often possible for two competent lawyers, who understand the relevant facts, to take such different views that there is not even any overlap between the cases that each disputant would identify as borderline cases for the application of the law. If vagueness is a problem for the rule of law, then, it seems to be a very serious problem. But I argue that the principle that the law must be capable of standing against anarchy and the arbitrary use of political power is compatible with the possibility of extravagant indeterminacy in the application of vague laws.
‘Sovereignty and the Logic of Absolute Power’, in Philosophy of International Law, Samantha Besson and John Tasioulas eds. (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2009).
- The idea of state sovereignty seems paradoxical (because it seems that a sovereign state must be capable of binding itself and must also be incapable of binding itself) or necessarily unjust (since complete independence would imply freedom from norms of ius cogens, and from interference with mass atrocities by the state) is a coherent idea, and sovereignty, rightly understood, is a valuable feature of states in international law. Sovereignty is to be understood as internal power and external freedom that are complete for the purposes of a good state.
‘Adjudication and the Law’ (2007) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 311-326.
- It can be compatible with justice and the rule of law for a court to imposenew legal liabilities retrospectively on a defendant. But judges do not need to distinguish between imposing a new liability, and giving effect to a liability that the defendant had at the time of the events in dispute. The distinction is to be drawn by asking which of the court's reasons for decision the institutions of the legal system had already committed the courts to act upon, before the time of decision. I explain these conclusions through an assessment of the last episode in the debate between H.L.A.Hart and Ronald Dworkin.
‘Habeas Corpus in the Supreme Court: A view from abroad’ –published on SSRN, April 24 2007 (Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 6/2007): http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=982412
- The habeas corpus jurisdiction is a judicial authority to control state detention of any person, anywhere, when the judges can do so without breaching the duty of comity that they owe to other institutions of the state. In the leading United States Supreme Court decision, Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950), the majority mistook the purpose of the writ, treating it as merely a protection for the rights of citizens. The purpose of habeas corpus is to uphold responsible government, and the protection it provides for the rights of citizens is an instance of that broader purpose. Through a study of the English law on the availability of the writ, and an explanation of the nature of arbitrary government, I argue that the United States federal courts' habeas corpus jurisdiction in respect of detentions in Guantánamo Bay can be justified as a matter of constitutional principle, by answering the objection that comity toward the executive requires the judges not to inquire into detention of aliens outside the United States.
‘Interpretation, Jurisdiction, and the Authority of Law’ (2007) 6 American Philosophical Association Newletter 14-19
- People can be autonomous, if they are subject to authority. In particular, they can be autonomous if they are subject to the authority of law. I defend the first claim through a study of Joseph Raz's compelling account of authority; I claim that his work leads to the conclusion that autonomous judgment is needed to determine the jurisdiction of an authority, and to interpret its directives. I defend the second claim by arguing (contrary to remarks by Raz) that law does not claim unlimited jurisdiction, and need not claim unlimited scope for its directives. But the requirements of the rule of law create a standing risk that the law will not adequately recognize the autonomy of its subjects, because of its artificial techniques for controlling its own jurisdiction and for controlling the scope of its own directives.
‘The One True Interpretation’ (2006) Analisi e Diritto [with a reply by Juan Vega] www.giuri.unige.it/intro/dipist/digita/filo/testi/analisi_2006/08endicott.pdf
- On whether there is, as the English judges have held, a single correct interpretation of the Geneva Convention on Refugees, and on the implications of that question for general jurisprudence.
‘The Infant in the Snow’, in Timothy Endicott, Joshua Getzler, and Edwin Peel (eds), Properties of Law (Oxford University Press, 2006)
- In a collection of essays on the work of Jim Harris, I argue that human rights do not depend on social practices and attitudes.
‘The Subsidiarity of Law and the Obligation to Obey’, (2005) 50 American Journal of Jurisprudence 233-248
- The extent of the obligation to obey the law is determined partly by some intrinsic limitations on the extent to which the law can help you to do something worthwhile.
Law: Essays in Honour of Jim
Edited by Timothy Endicott, Joshua Getzler, and Edwin Peel (Oxford University