•  17
    Review of Julie Dickson: Elucidating Law (review)
    Ethics 134 (1): 127-131. 2023.
    Review of Julie Dickson's 'Elucidating Law' (Oxford University Press, 2022).
  •  30
    Two factor-based models of precedential constraint: a comparison and proposal
    Artificial Intelligence and Law 31 (4): 703-738. 2023.
    The article considers two different interpretations of the reason model of precedent pioneered by John Horty. On a plausible interpretation of the reason model, past cases provide reasons to prioritize reasons favouring the same outcome as a past case over reasons favouring the opposing outcome. Here I consider the merits of this approach to the role of precedent in legal reasoning in comparison with a closely related view favoured by some legal theorists, according to which past cases provide r…Read more
  •  261
    Lesser Evils, Mere Permissions and Justifying Reasons in Law
    In James Penner & Mark McBride (eds.), New Essays on the Nature of Legal Reasoning, Hart Publishing. pp. 259-280. 2022.
    This Chapter is concerned with cases in which we are justified in performing an otherwise prohibited action but not required to perform it. My discussion focusses on cases in which conduct is permitted because it amounts to a ‘lesser evil’. What interests me is the curious nexus that these cases illustrate between justifying reasons and the conclusion that conduct is either permitted or required. So-called reason-based or ‘reasons-first’ accounts hold that our normative conclusions—our conclusio…Read more
  •  50
    Presupposing Legal Authority
    Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 42 (2): 411-437. 2022.
    The thesis that law necessarily claims authority is popular amongst legal philosophers. Some distinguished legal philosophers, including the late John Gardner, Joseph Raz and Scott Shapiro, have suggested that support for this thesis is found in legal officials’ use of deontic language. This article begins by considering the merits of this suggestion. I discuss two unpromising arguments for the claim thesis based on the use of deontic language in law. I then suggest that a more plausible basis f…Read more
  •  292
    Formalizing Reasons, Oughts, and Requirements
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 7 568-599. 2020.
    Reasons-based accounts of our normative conclusions face difficulties in distinguishing between what ought to be done and what is required. This article addresses this problem from a formal perspective. I introduce a rudimentary formalization of a reasons-based account and demonstrate that that the model faces difficulties in accounting for the distinction between oughts and requirements. I briefly critique attempts to distinguish between oughts and requirements by appealing to a difference in s…Read more
  •  17
    Protected reasons and precedential constraint—erratum
    Legal Theory 26 (1): 100-101. 2020.
    According to the prioritized reason model of precedent, precedential constraint is explained in terms of the need for decision-makers to reconcile their decisions with a settled priority order extracted from past cases. The prioritized reason model of precedent departs from the view that common law rules comprise protected reasons for action. In this article I show that a model utilizing protected reasons and the prioritized reason model of precedential constraint are, in an important sense, equ…Read more
  •  30
    Protected reasons and precedential constraint
    Legal Theory 26 (1): 40-61. 2020.
    ABSTRACTAccording to the prioritized reason model of precedent, precedential constraint is explained in terms of the need for decision-makers to reconcile their decisions with a settled priority order extracted from past cases. The prioritized reason model of precedent departs from the view that common law rules comprise protected reasons for action. In this article I show that a model utilizing protected reasons and the prioritized reason model of precedential constraint are, in an important se…Read more
  •  24
    Rights, Roles and Interests
    Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (2): 95-115. 2019.
    I argue that rights that protect our performance of roles are grounded in our interests in performing that role. Many of valuable roles are partly constituted by duties or obligations. Nonetheless these roles—even apparently burdensome roles—contribute to our interests. Once it is bestowed upon them, the role has special value to its bearer. Under certain conditions, the individual’s interest in performing their role is sufficient to ground rights. I conclude by briefly discussing the possibilit…Read more
  •  137
    Moral conflict and the logic of rights
    Philosophical Studies 177 (3): 633-651. 2020.
    The paper proposes a revised logic of rights in order to accommodate moral conflict. There are often said to be two rival philosophical accounts of rights with respect to moral conflict. Specificationists about rights insist that rights cannot conflict, since they reflect overall deontic conclusions. Generalists instead argue that rights reflect pro tanto constraints on behaviour. After offering an overview of the debate between generalists and specificationists with respect to rights, I outline…Read more
  •  43
    Legal Positivism and Deontic Detachment
    Ratio Juris 31 (1): 4-8. 2018.
    I consider a puzzle that arises when the logical principle known as “deontic detachment” is applied to the law. It is not possible to accept the principle of deontic detachment in a legal setting while also accepting that the so-called “social facts thesis” applies to all legal propositions. According to the social facts thesis, the existence and content of law is determined by the attitudes or practices of legal officials. Abandoning deontic detachment is not an appropriate solution to the prob…Read more
  •  60
    Detachment and Deontic Language in Law
    Law and Philosophy 37 (4): 351-384. 2018.
    Some legal philosophers regard the use of deontic language to describe the law as philosophically significant. Joseph Raz argues that it gives rise to ‘the problem of normativity of law’. He develops an account of what he calls ‘detached’ legal statements to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, Raz’s account is difficult to reconcile with the orthodox semantics of deontic language. The article offers a revised account of the distinction between committed and detached legal statements. It argues t…Read more