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Listed here are PhD students in the Faculty whose dissertations include substantial jurisprudential/philosophical components. Some of the dissertations are entirely philosophical, whereas others draw significantly upon philosophical insights in the course of argumentation about various legal doctrines.

 

Nicolas Alfonsi is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge (Pembroke College). He received an MJur (distinction) from Oxford University and an LLM degree from Harvard Law School. He also read law as an undergraduate at Paris II Pantheon-Assas. His primary research interest is in philosophy of law, specifically on the relationship between jurisprudence and legal practice. His thesis examines Ronald Dworkin’s first anti-archimedean argument in Justice in Robes, according to which our positions about the nature of law always commit us to certain substantive legal standpoints. Part I seeks to develop Dworkin’s point by discussing the real-life example of Brown v. Board of Education. Part II examines Dworkin’s contention that Hart believed in the legal neutrality of his study of the concept of law. It asserts that Dworkin’s reading is plausible on its face since Hart’s general philosophical outlook was close to that of his colleague Richard Hare, who explicitly said that his analysis of the concept of morality did not commit him to any substantive moral position. Parts III and IV argue, however, that there is a room for an alternative interpretation of Hart. To use Dworkin’s terminology, we have reason to think that Hart is not a neutral archimedean but an austere one. Though Hart wants to observe legal practice from an external viewpoint, he does not deny that his jurisprudence impinges on the way we are to concretely approach, as lawyers, hard cases: what we say at the external philosophical level, about the very nature of law, is supposed to commit us, if we are to maintain logical consistency, to act and think in certain ways as jurists, in our day-to-day practice. This thesis finally argues that the idea of an external jurisprudence having internal implications within ordinary legal discourse is sustainable.

Faculty profile: http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/na-alfonsi/5315

 

Raffael N. Fasel is a PhD in Law candidate at the University of Cambridge (Sidney Sussex College). In his doctoral thesis, Raffael examines the methodology, foundations, and application of legal rights. His research interests include jurisprudence, animal rights, human rights, constitutional law, public international law, and moral philosophy. Raffael obtained an LLM degree from Yale Law School, an MA in Philosophy from University College London, and a Bachelor and Master of Law (utriusque juris) degree from the University of Fribourg.

Faculty profile: http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/rn-fasel/77852

 

Michael Foran is a Ph.D. candidate at the Cambridge Law Faculty and Trinity Hall. He received an LL.B. from Trinity College Dublin and an M.Sc. in Law and Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. His thesis explores the concept of equality as it manifests in law, whether these manifestations are in conflict with each other at a philosophical level, and if so, how best to resolve that conflict. He is also more generally interested in legal theory, medico-legal issues, the interaction between law and culture, and the interaction between law and religion.

Faculty profile: https://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/m-p-foran/77914

 

Bethan Hall is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge (Jesus College).  She received an LLM (International Law; Class I) from the University of Cambridge, holds an LLB (first class) and has passed the Bar of England and Wales (Honourable Society of the Middle Temple; Outstanding). She also read Philosophy and Politics (BSc; first class) at the University of Bristol, where she conducted her studies with a particular interest in political philosophy and global justice. Her research interests include legal philosophy and public international law, and she has a particular interest in Kantian philosophy and international human rights.

 

Valentin Jeutner is a PhD Candidate at the Cambridge Law Faculty and Gonville and Caius College. Previously, he read law at Oxford University (BA Jurisprudence) and studied towards an LLM at Georgetown University. His thesis argues that irreconcilable conflicts between norms of public international law are at times best conceptualised as legal dilemmas. Against this background the thesis aims to identify the meaning and consequences of legal dilemmas, to distil their legal function within the sphere of international law, and to trigger serious theoretical and practical investigations into the conditions that lead to legal dilemmas. Specific issues the thesis considers include how a legal dilemma should be defined (particularly in contradistinction to moral dilemmas), whether the contemporary international legal order allows for irreconcilable norm conflicts, and how such conflicts should be decided. The arguments of the thesis will be illustrated with references to potentially dilemmatic aspects of the regulation of nuclear weapons and international transboundary water resources.

Faculty profile: http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/valentin-jeutner/5209

 

Jyr-Jong Lin is a PhD candidate in law at the University of Cambridge (Clare College). He received an LL.B.and an LL.M. from National Taiwan University. His primary research interest is in philosophy of law, specifically issues relating to the normativity of law, authority, reasons for action, and the normativity of rationality. He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation, in which he examines different accounts of legal normativity in the Hartian tradition of Jurisprudence and aims to develop a more elaborate one.

 

Agnes Lindberg is a PhD candidate in the Cambridge University Law Faculty and at King's College.  Her doctoral thesis examines the use of arguments of rights in the debates over the effects of climate change. Her research interests include theories of rights; jurisprudence; theories of human rights and human rights law; political, legal and moral philosophy; climate change law and environmental law. Agnes holds an MA in law from the University of Oslo and a BA in philosophy from the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Faculty profile: https://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/ah-lindberg/78291

 

Konatsu Nishigai is a PhD candidate in Law at the University of Cambridge (Corpus Christi College). Her research focuses on the conception of the rule of law in the works of AV Dicey in relation to John Austin and Jeremy Bentham’s thought, and aims to develop an analytical framework for understanding the common law version of the rule of law. Konatsu has academic interests in jurisprudence, political theory, legal history, UK and Comparative Constitutional Law and UK administrative law. Before coming to Cambridge, Konatsu held appointments as Associate Professor of Constitutional Law in the Faculty of Law at Tokyo Metropolitan University (2013-2018), where she taught Constitutional Law, Information Law and Municipal Law, and as Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Tokyo (2010-2013). Konatsu received a JD (magna cum laude) from the University of Tokyo Law School as well as an LLB from Keio University.

Faculty profile:  https://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/k-nishigai/78781

 

Stefan Theil is a PhD candidate in law. His primary research interests are in International Law, Human Rights Law, European Union Law, Constitutional theory and German public law. He has previously completed translation work in the field of legal philosophy and was recently involved in a research project on the Social State principle in German constitutional law. He holds a degree in law from the University of Bayreuth (Germany) and a master’s degree in law from University College London (LLM). The central proposition of his thesis is that a commitment to the civil and political rights of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) entails the protection of basic environmental requirements for a healthy human life (to which he refers collectively as the ‘environmental minimum’). Following a comprehensive analysis of the case law, he proposes that there is significant potential for a more ‘green’ reading of the ECHR. He develops his argument by exploring the concepts of human rights and environmental protection that inform his approach. Crucially, human rights neither demand absolute priority over other considerations, nor do they entail complete statements of justice. With this in mind, the ‘environmental minimum’ provides a framework to determine at which point an environmental threat to human health amounts to a human rights violation. However, the ‘environmental minimum’ does not seek to enforce, or authoritatively postulate any specific threshold values. As long as states regulate and enforce some environmental protection standard, the ‘environmental minimum’ will be satisfied.

Faculty profile: http://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/stefan-theil/6578

 

Dan Ward is a PhD candidate at the Cambridge Law Faculty (Hughes Hall). His doctoral thesis examines the concept of a rule. The first part argues that the accounts offered by HLA Hart, Joseph Raz and Frederick Schauer all locate social and legal rules within the field of attitudes and reasoning. That framing leads to the view that unless we can identify, or at least hypothesise, individuals who have at least some degree of personal commitment to following the putative rule it is unintelligible to say that such a rule exists. Such a view insinuates that we cannot enjoy the benefit of a rules-based order unless we “sign up” to its rules, i.e. commit to following them. Dan criticises that conceptualisation, proposing instead that, at the most general level, a rule is a persistent, or entropy-resisting, pattern. Pattern in what? It depends, Dan proposes, on the type of rule. Personal rules are, indeed, constituted by an individual’s set of attitudes. Social rules, though, are more naturally seen as patterns in behaviour across, rather than tendencies within, individuals – patterns often sustained by game theoretic considerations rather than psychological commitment to compliance. Legal rules – as well as legal principles and norms – are best understood as entropy-resisting patterns in legal information. The advantages (Dan thinks) of this conceptual framework include that of permitting discussion of the existence and content of a rule – including one whose existence and/or content is controversial – separately from its normativity (if any). The second part of the thesis will explore the intellectual roots of the Hartian view of rules, in particular in the mid-C20th “cognitive revolution” and shift away from behaviourism. Dan previously read law at Oxford University (BA and BCL) and worked for 12 years in private practice as a commercial litigation lawyer.

Faculty profile: https://www.law.cam.ac.uk/people/research-students/l-ward/78771