Legal and Political Theory
UCL is one of Britain's leading centres for research and teaching in legal and political theory, and exploring the normative issues raised by public policy. In addition to the five political theorists based in the Department of Political Science (Richard Bellamy, Cécile Laborde, Saladin Meckled-Garcia, Laura Valentini and Albert Weale), the School of Public Policy programme involves Jo Wolff, Michael Otsuka and Véronique Munoz-Dardé from Philosophy and Stephen Guest, Georges Letsas, Philip Schofield and John Tasioulas from Laws. A seminar in Legal and Political Theory convened[APW2] by Richard Bellamy and Cécile Laborde in the Autumn Term is complemented by the Colloquium in Law and Social Philosophy convened by John Tasioulas in the Spring Term. Jo Wolff organises the twice yearly Philosophy in Practice Research Network events, Saladin Meckled-Garcia organises talks, public events and symposia for the UCL Institute for Human Rights, and Richard Bellamy for the UCL European Institute.
Recent speakers at these UCL seminars have included Tim Scanlon (Harvard), Jeremy Waldron (NYU), Joseph Raz (Columbia), Thomas Pogge (Yale), Quentin Skinner (Queen Mary), Amartya Sen (Harvard) ands Philippe Van Parijis (Louvain/Harvard). In addition to the MA, there is a growing group of theory-oriented PhD students, for whom Albert Weale coordinates a workshop for presenting work in progress.
In the Department of Political Science, the core team members interact closely with a number of colleagues, with expertise in human rights and the law (Dr. Basak Çali, Dr Lisa Vanhala), democracy and democratisation (Dr. Sherrill Stroschein), European constitutionalism (Dr. Christine Reh), intrastate conflicts (Dr. Kristin M. Bakke), international political economy (Dr. David Hudson) and human rights empirical studies (Dr. Rod Abouharb). In addition, colleagues in the Constitution Unit specialise in the area of constitutionalism and democracy in the UK.
Research Team Expertise and Experience
- Prof. Richard Bellamy (MA, PhD Cambridge) has written extensively on questions of citizenship, democracy, constitutionalism and public ethics, and generally in the areas of European social and political thought post-1750 and contemporary analytical and legal philosophy. He is currently writing studies of the democratic legitimacy of European Union and of international human rights conventions, and the ethics of democratic leadership and of political compromise.
- Prof. Cécile Laborde (DPhil Oxford) is the Director of the MA in Legal and Political Theory and has published on toleration, patriotism, republicanism, multiculturalism and secularism, as well as on global justice, theories of law and the state, and the reception of John Rawls in Europe. She is currently working on a 5-year ERC-funded project on the special status of religion in contemporary legal and political theory.
- Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia (BA Philosophy, PhD Political Philosophy) was the founder of the School's MA in Human Rights. He is currently a Director of the UCL Institute for Human Rights, where he is involved in a number of initiatives linking normative theory to practical decision making. His areas of research interest include: methodology in political philosophy and normative theory; international ethics, human rights and non-state actors, human rights and democracy, law and human rights protection, market ethics and egalitarian justice theories, the nature of the separation of powers, theories of political authority, neutrality and toleration in state practice, cosmopolitan approaches to international justice, theories of responsibility, meta-ethical approaches, and theories of legal interpretation.
- Dr Laura Valentini (MA, PhD, UCL) has recently completed a book on global justice, and has published on topics such as the justification of human rights, ideal and non-ideal theory, and the relationship between justice and democracy. Her current research focuses on questions of methodology in normative theorizing, and on the possibility of extending democratic principles to the global arena.
- Prof. Albert Weale (MA, PhD, Cambridge, FBA and ESRC Professorial Research Fellow until 31 March 2012) has worked extensively on questions of political theory and public policy including social, environmental and health policy. From 2008 to 2012 he has chaired the Nuffield Committee on Bioethics. He has also written on democratic theory generally as well as on political legitimacy and the EU. He is currently completing projects on social contract theory and on the political theory of the property-owning democracy.
- Dr Robert Jubb is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. The Fellowship was granted to work on a project on duties of justice in situations of injustice, an interest which builds on earlier work on ideal theory. He has also worked on distributive justice, Rawls’ interpretation of Rousseau and political theorists’ engagement with ‘real’ politics.
- Deborah Savage is Teaching Fellow in Political theory. She has just completed a PhD in the field of global ethics at the University of Essex.
Main Research Themes and Publications
1. The Justification of Normative Principles and Their Application to Public Policy
Our first research theme addresses the questions of how normative principles should be justified, and how they can help us guide political action in real-world circumstances.
- Richard Bellamy, `Dirty Hands and White Gloves: Liberal Ideals and Real Politics’, European Journal of Political Theory, 9 (2010), pp. 412–430
- Robert Jubb (with Faik Kurtulmus), ‘No Country for Honest Men: Political Philosophers and Real Politics’, Political Studies, forthcoming
- Robert Jubb, ‘The Tragedy of Non-Ideal Theory’, European Journal of Political Theory, forthcoming.
- Laura Valentini, ‘On the Apparent Paradox of Ideal Theory’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 17 (3) (2009), 332-55.
- Laura Valentini, ‘A Paradigm Shift in Theorizing about Justice? A Critique of Sen’, Economics & Philosophy, 27 (3) (2011), 297-315.
- Albert Weale, ’Co-Payments in the NHS: An Analysis of the Normative Arguments’ (with Sarah Clark), Health Economics, Policy and Law, 5:2 (2010), pp. 225-46.
- Albert Weale, ‘New Modes of Governance, Political Accountability and Public Reason’, Government and Opposition, 46: 1 (2011), pp.58-80.
2. Pluralism, Toleration and Neutrality
The second theme covered by our research concerns the issue of how to justify common political principles given the diversity of citizens’ moral beliefs and commitments.
- Richard Bellamy, Liberalism and Pluralism: Towards a Politics of Compromise. London: Routledge, 1999
- Cécile Laborde, Critical Republicanism. The Hijab Controversy and Political Philosophy. OUP 2008.
- Saladin Meckled-Garcia, "Toleration and Neutrality: Incompatible Ideals?", Toleration, A Special Issue of Res Publica, 7(3), 2001.
- S. Meckled-Garcia, ‘Toleration and Neutrality: saving an unhappy marriage?’ (A Reply To Peter Jones' critique of ‘Toleration and Neutrality: Incompatible Ideals?’) in Castiglione, D., and McKinnon, C., eds., Toleration, Neutrality and Democracy, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004.
- A. Weale, 'From Contracts to Pluralism?', in P. J. Kelly (ed), Impartiality,. Neutrality and Justice Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998, pp. 9-34.
3. Rights, Democracy, Constitutionalism
A third set of questions addressed by our research is: How can rights – and in particular human rights – be justified, and interpreted? And how can they best be entrenched and protected?
- Richard Bellamy, Political Constitutionalism: A Republican Defence of the Constitutionality of Democracy, Cambridge University Press, 2007
- Richard Bellamy, ‘Political Constitutionalism and the Human Rights Act’, International Journal of Constitutional Law (I-Con), 9 (2011), pp. 86-111
- Cécile Laborde, ‘Political Liberalism and Religion: On Separation and Establishment’, Journal of Political Philosophy, Early View, 24 July 2011.
- Saladin Meckled-Garcia, ‘Neo-Positivism About Rights: What's Wrong with Rights as Enforceable claims’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, CV(1), 2004.
- Saladin Meckled-Garcia, ‘Is there a ‘global human rights deficit’? Consequentialist liability and cosmopolitan alternatives’, in Brock, G., ed., Cosmopolitanism for and against, Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2012.
- Laura Valentini, 'In What Sense Are Human Rights Political?', Political Studies, 60 (1) (2012).
- Laura Valentini, 'Justice, Disagreement, and Democracy', British Journal of Political Science (forthcoming).
- A. Weale, Democracy 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007.
4. International Justice and Cosmopolitanism
The fourth research area asks whether principles of social justice should apply globally, and whether any particular value should be granted to national self-government and state sovereignty.
- Richard Bellamy (with Dario Castiglione) `Between Cosmopolis and Community: Three Models of Rights and Democracy within the European Union', in D. Archibugi, D. Held and M. Koheler (eds) Transnational Democracy, (Polity, 1998), pp. 152-78
- Cécile Laborde ‘Republicanism and Global Justice: a Sketch’, European Journal of Political Theory, January 2010.
- Saladin Meckled-Garcia, 'On the Very Idea of Cosmopolitan Justice', Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 16/3, September 2008
- S. Meckled-Garcia, ‘Do Transnational Economic effects Violate Human Rights?’ Ethics & Global Politics, September 2009.
- Saladin Meckled-Garcia, ‘International Law and the limits of Global Justice’, Review of International Studies, forthcoming in 2011/12.
- Laura Valentini, Justice in a Globalized World: A Normative Framework (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
- Laura Valentini, ‘Global Justice and Practice-Dependence: Conventionalism, Institutionalism, Functionalism’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 19 (4) (2011), 399-418.
- Laura Valentini, ‘Coercion and (Global) Justice’, American Political Science Review, 105 (1) (2011), 205-20.
5. Republicanism and Liberalism
The fifth research area assesses and defends the distinctive claims of the republican tradition, notably as an alternative or a complement to mainstream liberal approaches in Anglo-American political philosophy.
- Richard Bellamy, Rethinking Liberalism, London: Continuum, 2005
- Cécile Laborde (ed.) Republicanism and Political Theory (with John Maynor) (Oxford Blackwell, 2007).
- Cécile Laborde ‘Republicanism’, Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, OUP, forthcoming.
- Robert Jubb, ‘Rawls and Rousseau: Amour-Propre and the Strains of Commitment’, Res Publica, (2011), 17 (3), 245-260[u6]
6. European Political Theory and the Political Theory of Europe
Lastly, members of the team have published extensively in intellectual history and comparative political thought, as well as in the normative study of contemporary European governance.
- Richard Bellamy (co-editor with T. Ball), The Cambridge History of Twentieth Century Political Thought, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
- Richard Bellamy, `Democracy without Democracy?: Can the EU’s Democratic ‘Outputs’ be Separated from the Democratic ‘Inputs’ Provided by Competitive Parties and Majority Rule?’, Journal of European Public Policy, 17 (2010), pp. 2-19
- Cécile Laborde, Pluralist Thought and the State in Britain and France, 1900-25. Macmillan, 2000.
- Cécile Laborde (ed.) Rawls in Europe. European Journal of Political Theory, Special issue, October 2002
- A. Weale, Democratic Citizenship and the European Union, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005