My research examines the nature and justification of rights and duties. Recent work examines the relationship between rights and respect, and the structure (as individualistic or non-individualistic, 'foundationalist' or 'transcendental') of the moral grounds for rights. My work aims to reveal the comparative importance of different forms of right including human rights, natural rights, contractual rights, property rights, legal rights. I am co-editor of Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (OUP, 2015) (http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199688630.do).
A guiding aim of my research is to demonstrate how philosophical positions bear on the justification of public policies and law. I have participated in policy development for NGOs and government, and in public inquiries including in 2012 as an invited witness at the Leveson Inquiry (www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Witness-Statement-of-Dr-Rowan-Cruft.pdf) and as co-author of a submission to the Commission on a Bill of Rights for the UK.
I am currently (2016-17) on research leave as a British Academy mid-career research fellow. I am writing a book, contracted to Oxford University Press, on human rights, ownership and the individual. This book examines the distinction between rights grounded primarily by what they do for the right-holder (e.g. our 'basic' human rights) and those grounded by what they do for the wider community independently of their benefits to the right-holder (e.g. most property rights and other useful created systems of rights). I start from a new account of the nature of rights as formally bringing together duty-bearer and right-holder first-personally.
Postgraduate Supervision: I have supervised PhD theses on the nature of 'positive' or socio-economic rights, on well-being as a ground for justice, on the justice of market transactions, on the defensibility of democracy, on the responsibility of collective agents, on causation in morality and law, and on civil disobedience. I enjoy postgraduate supervision and my students have a strong record on the job market, and a strong record attracting AHRC and other awards. See http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~sasp/ for full details of the St Andrews - Stirling joint graduate programme.
Professional Activities: In addition to reviewing for journals, I am a member of the management committee of The Philosophical Quarterly and a member of the executive committee of the Aristotelian Society. From 2007-14, I was a member of the AHRC peer review college. I am external examiner for part of the undergraduate philosophy degree in Cambridge, and have held similar roles at Glasgow and (for philosophical parts of the law degree) King's College London.