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Moral and Political Philosophy

At the heart of moral and political philosophy are questions about how we should live, and about how we should conceive of the relation between the good for ourselves and the obligations that we bear to others. Specific issues that are of interest to researchers in moral and political philosophy in the Philosophy department of the University of Warwick are ethical intuition, moral perception, the role of epistemic norms in moral and political contexts, political legitimacy, the authority of democracy, the philosophical foundations of the criminal law, just war theory, the scope of moral theory, and ethical questions about security, financial justice and privacy. A distinguishing feature of research in moral and political philosophy in the Philosophy Department is also its connection to research issues in the History of Philosophy, particularly the history of the early modern period, and also the German idealist perspective on the enlightenment.

Research on these topics in the Philosophy department at the University of Warwick takes place against the institutional backdrop of close collaboration with political and legal philosophers in the departments of Politics and International Studies, and the department of Law. As a student working in these areas, you will be a member of an institution that is now widely recognized as one of the UK leaders in research in politics and political philosophy. With the department of Politics and International Studies and the department of Law, the department is home to the Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs (CELPA). This centre hosts a wide range of research activities, from graduate conferences, research seminars, workshops and conferences, involving distinguished visiting speakers.

Some questions that guide and inform the research of those working in this field at Warwick are:

  • Is it possible to visually perceive the rightness or wrongness of an action?
  • Is there a duty to obey the law or should we be anarchists?
  • What should we do when we are ordered to fight an unjust war?
  • What are crimes against humanity?
  • What are human rights?

Reading Group

The normative theory reading group holds close readings and discussions of key texts in any area of moral, political and legal philosophy. The forum provides an opportunity for both exegesis and criticism, and potentially the presentation of original work.


Miguel Beistegui
Robert Cowan
Stephen Houlgate
David James
Fabienne Peter
Massimo Renzo
Tom Sorell

Postdocs / Fellows

Karen Simecek
Kirk Surgener
Andrew Williams

Research centre

The Centre for Ethics, Law, and Public Affairs (CELPA) was established in 2008 to coordinate and develop the activities of researchers in the University with interests in normative inquiry into public affairs. The members of the CELPA include academic staff and research students from the departments of Politics and International Studies, Law, Philosophy, and Sociology who address issues of public concern from the perspective of moral, legal and political philosophy.