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Professor John Tasioulas

 Professor John Tasioulas, Chair of Politics, Philosophy & Law and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law.

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Professor John Tasioulas joined The Dickson Poon School of Law in September, 2014 as the inaugural Chair of Politics, Philosophy & Law and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law. He has degrees in Law and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a D.Phil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He was previously a Lecturer in Jurisprudence at the University of Glasgow and Reader in Moral and Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford, where he taught from 1998-2010. His most recent appointment was as Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London.

Professor Tasioulas is an Honorary Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School, a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, an Emeritus Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford and a member of the Academia Europaea. He has held visiting appointments at the Australian National University, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the University of Melbourne, and has acted as a consultant on human rights to the World Bank. He has delivered the 'Or 'Emet Lecture at Osgoode Hall Law School (2011) and the Natural Law Lecture at Notre Dame Law School (2012). He serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Jurisprudence, the American Society of International Law Studies in International Legal Theory, the Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Moral Philosophy and Politics.

Research interests
Professor Tasioulas’ current research is mainly focused on the following four areas of inquiry:
  1. The philosophy of human rights: He is engaged in completing a monograph entitled Human Rights: From Morality to Law, under contract to OUP, which defends an account of human rights as universal moral rights grounded in a plurality of values, and explores its implications for international human rights law;
  2. The philosophy of crime and punishment: He has defended a new version of the 'communicative' theory of punishment, the idea that punishment is justified as censure for certain kinds of wrong-doing. This version of the theory strives to make room for both the values of retributive justice and mercy. He also has an ongoing interest in the question of the grounds for criminalizing conduct;
  3. The philosophy of international law, including such topics as the legitimacy of international law, the nature and scope of state sovereignty, international crimes (e.g. crimes against humanity), and the nature of customary international law;
  4. Questions about the nature, ends and limits of law, and in particular, the extent to which law may appropriately promote various ethical values. This is the subject of a work in progress, What is Law?, under contract to Penguin.
Selected publications

Work in progress

  • Human Rights: From Morality to Law (monograph under contract with Oxford University Press)
  • Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Law (edited volume under contract with Cambridge University Press)
  • What is Law? (monograph under contract with Penguin)

Selected recent publications include:


  • The Philosophy of International Law, co-editor (Oxford University Press, 2010)


  • 'Custom, Jus Cogens, and Human Rights', in C. Bradley (ed.), Custom's Future: International Law in a Changing World (CUP, 2016)
  • ‘On the Foundations of Human Rights’, in R. Cruft, M. Liao, and M. Renzo (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (OUP, 2015).
  • 'Human Dignity and the Foundations of Human Rights’, in C. McCrudden (ed.) Understanding Human Dignity (Oxford University Press, 2013), pp.293-314.
  • ‘Hart on Justice and Morality’, for J. Edwards, et al. (eds.) Reading The Concept of Law (Hart Publications, forthcoming 2013), pp. 155-175.
  • ‘Human Rights, Legitimacy, and International Law’, American Journal of Jurisprudence 58 (2013), pp.1-25.
  • ‘Justice, Equality, and Rights’, in R. Crisp (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics (OUP, 2013), pp.768-792.
  • 'Towards a Philosophy of Human Rights’, Current Legal Problems 65 (2012), pp.1-30.


  • Jurisprudence & Legal Theory


  • Political Philosophy & International Law
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