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Joseph Roberts

We’re pleased to welcome everyone back for the new term, and are looking forward to getting to know those of you who have just joined. With Behind the Scenes at BLS we talk to a different member of our community and share their stories with you online. This week we’ve met…

My name is Dr Joseph Roberts and I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Law and Philosophy at Birmingham Law School. My background isn’t originally in Law. Prior to coming to BLS, I did a PhD in Political Philosophy at the University of Manchester. 

The reason I got in to political philosophy is that I’ve always been interested in how people with different values can live together in a peaceful and tolerant society. In particular I’ve always been interested in how legal prohibitions limit people with unconventional values from living their own lives in accordance with their own values. In my PhD thesis, for example, I argued that we ought to permit extreme body modification practices, which are currently illegal in the UK. As my research in political philosophy has often focused on providing a normative critique of the law, moving to the Birmingham Law School to work on an interdisciplinary team was a natural fit.

The best thing about my job as a Research Fellow is having the opportunity to tackle thorny and difficult intellectual problems. Thinking through the implications of philosophical views, although not exciting in the traditional sense of the word, is interesting and, on a good day, ‘fun’. As someone who has always been ‘bookish’, I enjoy having the time to read extensively about a subject and develop a deeper understanding of what is at stake in complex debates about what society ought to do.

Being a Research Fellow isn’t all just about acquiring knowledge, it is also about sharing it. I have always enjoyed speaking in public, and being a Research Fellow provides ample opportunities to present one’s research to colleagues. One of the great things about the Birmingham Law School, and the University in general, is the variety (and amount) of academic activities which occur. There are simply more interesting talks than there is time to attend them!