I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, specializing in political philosophy, moral philosophy, and social and political epistemology. I served as Head of Department from 2017 to 2020.
Before coming to Warwick in 2004, I taught at the University of Basel. Prior to that, I was a postdoc at the Harvard School of Public Health, where I worked with Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen on a project on justice in health. In 1997, I was a Hoover Fellow at the Université Catholique de Louvain. I have also held visiting positions in the philosophy departments at Harvard and at the Research School of Social Sciences at ANU.
I have written extensively on political legitimacy. I am interested in the question of what, if anything, justifies democracy. I have published a book on Democratic Legitimacy and I am the author of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on “Political Legitimacy”.
One of my current research projects focuses on the normative foundations of conceptions of political legitimacy. I started this project when I held a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship in 2010/11. A key question this project explores is how expertise bears on the justification of political decisions. The project has led to papers on a range of topics in political epistemology (see my list of publications). I’m currently consolidating this line of research by writing a book on The Grounds of Political Legitimacy.
Relatedly, I’m also currently involved in an AHRC-funded collaborative research project on Norms for the New Public Sphere. The project explores the norms that can underpin the regulation of social media platforms in relation to their increasingly important role in political debate. The project covers both epistemic norms and participation norms for political debate.
Another cluster of research projects focuses on issues in meta-ethics and in social epistemology. This strand of my research focuses on reasons for action and for belief, and on questions such as the following. How much trust in our epistemic capacities and in our moral capacities is warranted? How should we respond to disagreements, including to political disagreements? What are the limits of reason-based justification for our actions?
Recent Publications (full list)
- 'Epistemic Norms of Political Deliberation.' In Michael Hannon and Jeroen de Ridder (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Political Epistemology. New York: Routledge, 2021, pp. 395 – 406.
- 'Truth and Uncertainty in Political Justification.' In Elizabeth Edenberg and Michael Hannon (eds.) Political Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021, pp. 64 - 75.
- 'The Grounds of Political Legitimacy.' Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6(3): 372 - 390, 2020 (penultimate version).
- 'Normative Facts and Reasons.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 119(1): 53 - 75, 2019.
- 'Epistemic Self-Trust and Doxastic Disagreements'. Erkenntnis 84: 1189–1205, 2019.
More comprehensive lists of publications are available here:
- Introduction to Philosophy
- Contemporary Political Philosophy
- Philosophy of Social Science
- Philosophy and Economics (with Peter Hammond)
- Topics in Moral and Political Philosophy (MA module)
- Democratic Legitimacy and Justification (MA module, with Matthew Clayton)
Interviews, Blog Posts, and Podcasts
- Article in The New Statesman on “Can Authoritarianism Ever be Justified?" (August 2021)
- Blog post for Warwick Knowledge Centre on “The Experts are Back – But How Much Political Power Should Experts Have?” (March 2020)
- Blog post at Open for Debate on “Political Debate in the Digital Age” (February 2020)
- Interview with Lisa Bortolotti on Norms for the New Public Sphere research project (December 2019)
- Article in The Conversation on social media rules for influential politicians (July 2019)
- Interview by Richard Marshall at 3:16 am (April 2018)
Filmed interview on the grounds of political legitimacy by Luc Foisneau, CNRS (May 2017)
Blog post at Philosophers' Magazine on the 2017 general election (May 2017)
- Video of a public debate in Opatija on "Democracy or Decision-making by Experts"? (June 2016)
- Blog post at The Forum on "Democracy or Decision-making by Experts"? (2016)
- Podcast of panel discussion at LSE: Is Politics based on Morality? (2015)
- Podcast interview (in German) about my article 'The Human Right to Political Participation' (2014)
- Postcast interview about my book Democratic Legitimacy by Robert Talisse at New Books in Philosophy (2011)
Email: f.peter at warwick
Office: Department of Philosophy, Social Sciences Building, S2.57
Advice and feedback hours: by appointment