Legal, Moral and Political Philosophy

The Legal, Moral and Political Philosophy research cluster is one of the three clusters of research strength in the Stirling Philosophy Unit. It functions as a focus for research activity in the unit, including publications, conferences and workshops, research grants, and a wide range of interdisciplinary, impact and public engagement activities.

Themes explored in this cluster include the nature of practical reason and normativity; the universality of moral and other practical claims; human rights as a legal and a moral concept; the nature and purpose of rights and duties, including human rights and property rights; the relation between regulation, paternalism and autonomy; and aspects of the Aristotelian, Kantian and Humean traditions. It provides one route by which the unit contributes to three University-wide research themes: Cultures, Communities and Society; Global Security and Resilience; and Living Well.

Developing organically from its members’ work, the cluster is the source of recent and ongoing projects in the foundations of human rights, the legitimacy of legal and policy interventions, and the nature of practical reason and its relation to politics. Recent collaborative projects include:

  • Norms for the New Public Sphere, AHRC research project (2019-22), in collaboration with Warwick Philosophy and the Doteveryone think-tank. This project investigates the opportunities and challenges that new social media pose for a well-constituted public sphere, and aims to develop a set of norms that can underpin a media policy framework appropriate to the internet age. The project focuses on the relationship between three core principles: an epistemic value principle supporting acquisition and sharing of knowledge; a liberal self-government principle protecting equal participation rights, and constituting participants as a self-governing polity; and a principle requiring appropriate space for privacy.
  • The Mind in Your Pocket (Technologies of the Extended Mind) Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant (2018-22), in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, Fordham University New York, University of Colorado and the University of Twente. Bringing together philosophy and neuroscience, and affiliated with the Neuroethics Collective, this project investigates the neuro-ethical implications of the technologically extended mind. [Also part of the Mind and Knowledge cluster]

In addition, the Legal, Moral and Political Philosophy cluster has attracted a number of recent awards supporting individual research projects, including Rights, Roles and the Individual (British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, 2016-17). Cluster members co-edit the Justice Everywhere blog and recent collaborative publications including Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (OUP 2015) and Political Philosophy in a Pandemic (Bloomsbury 2021).

We have strong research links with colleagues at the University of Ghana, and cluster members play an ongoing role in Stanford University’s Coding Caring: Human Values for an Intimate AI. The cluster hosts the interdisciplinary Stirling Political Philosophy Group involving colleagues from Criminology, Law and Politics (if you are interested in attending, please contact or

Recent PhD graduates supervised within the cluster have worked on the ethics of global poverty, feminist methodologies in moral philosophy, the nature and justification of rights, the foundations of liberalism, the moral responsibilities of collective agents and non-agential institutions, the ethics of markets, the nature of privacy, and the human right to cultural heritage. Our research students have gone on to academic posts at the Universities of British Columbia, Leeds, McGill, Oxford, St Gallen, Stockholm, among others.

Related outputs

Cruft R (2019) Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual. London: Oxford University Press.

Duff RA (2019) Two Models of Criminal Fault. Criminal Law and Philosophy.

Hope SJ (2019) Political Philosophy as Practical Philosophy: A response to "Political Realism". Journal of Political Philosophy.

Hurtig K (2019) The fitting attitudes analysis of value: an explanatory challenge. Philosophical Studies, 176 (12), pp. 3241-3249.

Niker F & Specker Sullivan L (2018) Trusting Relationships and the Ethics of Interpersonal Action. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 26 (2), pp. 173-186.