Jurisprudence

Photo of the carvings of great thinkers outside the University's Aston Webb building

Birmingham Law School has a long and distinguished tradition of jurisprudential reflection upon permanent questions of the nature of law. Encompassing all areas of legal and political thought, scholars at Birmingham are at the forefront of research into the political and historical significance of law and justice, and public morality.

Enjoying a lively and intellectually diverse atmosphere, our research is not only addressed to the deepest political questions of our time, but also engages in an immediate way with doctrinal debates across the legal syllabus. Together we seek to redefine and advance our subject through leading publications, cutting-edge teaching, our vibrant postgraduate community, and numerous speaking engagements throughout the world.

Our work can be regarded as addressing a number of themes:

Historical and Theoretical Dimensions of Practical and Moral Reasoning in Law

Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco investigates the idea of practical reason in the classical tradition (Aristotle, Aquinas and Aristotle) to explain the authoritative and normative character of law. This conception of practical reason also informs her research on individual responsibility and the omission/action distinction in private law and collective responsibility in international law and human rights law. Her work centres upon the classical conceptions of will, responsibility and causation.

In his work, Gavin Byrne explores the interface between the Anglo-American and Continental philosophies of legal order, focusing upon the question of evil legal orders.

Liberal justice and human vulnerability

Our research examines specific dimensions and critiques of liberal justice, specifically in the context of human vulnerability. For example, Marie Fox’s work applies feminist legal perspectives to the regulation of animals and human bodies. Rosie Harding examines the bearing of regulatory frameworks on the care of the elderly. In addition, an exploration of the general conditions of justice, fairness and equality forms a central and persistent focus of debate in our publications and seminars.

The philosophical significance of central doctrinal debates

Connecting philosophical debates to concrete legal problems remains a vital theme in the Law School. James Lee is currently undertaking a ground-breaking examination of legislative interventions in private law. He has recently completed a project on judges, jurists and the process of judging. Stephen Smith researches into the bioethical and legal implications of end of life decisions. Bharat Malkani and Robert Cryer both explore aspects of international criminal law and criminal justice.

Law as a theologico-political problem

Sean Coyle is writing a monograph on the nature of law and justice in the context of the human condition. Drawing upon historical, political and theological sources, he wishes to challenge many of the most intimate assumptions of modern jurisprudential thought.

Analysis of legal pluralism

Gordon Woodman is continuing his study of instances of legal pluralism throughout the world, especially those involving non-state law, with work focusing on the prevalence and nature of customary law.