Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Many thanks to the Hegel Society of Great Britain

. . . for the invitation to speak at its conference on "Hegel's Political Philosophy" held at the University of Cambridge last Thursday and Friday. Stimulating papers, terrific discussion and fabulous scholars made for a highly enjoyable time - and hope my powerpoint presentation (the first at a HSGB conference) is not its last...

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Criminal Justice at a Crossroads: Why Victims Should Have a Say

. . . is my latest piece for Political Insight. Abstract is:

"Public satisfaction with the criminal justice system is plummeting. What can policymakers do? Thom Brooks argues that restorative justice could provide an alternative to the traditional courtroom that would restore public confidence, reduce reoffending and even save money."

Monday, September 01, 2014

One Nation Labour can deliver the Britain we deserve

. . . is the title of my latest piece for Progress, the New Labour pressure group for progressive politics. The piece can be read here - an excerpt:

"One Nation Labour is about building a more equal and fair Britain where all share in prosperity. This powerful vision rejects the ‘divide and rule’ politics that define the Tory party. The Tories have a habit of rewarding favoured special interests above the public interest. One Nation Labour aims to correct this imbalance so that all can benefit, not only a chosen few. We can fight back even more effectively against Tory critics by viewing One Nation Labour through the politics of hope it can deliver. It can deliver the Britain we deserve [. . .]"

Read more

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Brooks Blog reaches 500,000 page views

. . . and 505,397 to be exact with over 450,000 visitors since I launched this blog June 15, 2006. The most read blogposts are:

1. "We are sorry for any inconvenience caused" (8 October 2010) - 23,179 views

2. "Journal rankings for philosophy" (29 September 2011) - 22,987 views

3. "The top philosophy journals: initial results" (18 January 2011) - 17,902 views

4. "Why publish journal articles?" (4 January 2011) -  6,670 views

5. "Hegel's philosophy attacked by Australia's opposition parties, or "The Politics of What?!" (6 September 2013) - 3,362 views

6. "Equality: the ticket to greater citations?" (2 January 2011) - 3,126 views

7. "Journal of Moral Philosophy joins Thomson Reuters ISI" (11 July 2011) - 2,676 views

8. "Senior academics threaten resignations over Big Society" (23 June 2011) - 1,848 views

9. "Thom Brooks on 'Guidelines on How to Referee'" (2 December 2010) - 1,479 views

10. "The UK citizenship test is 'unfit for purpose': news round-up" (18 March 2013) - 1,300 views

Clearly, my blog has become a central focal point for debates concerning academic journal rankings. I have a strong interest in these discussions given my founding the Journal of Moral Philosophy and I became increasingly alarmed at how many developments worldwide were taking place without full consultation with journal editors and their readers. This led me to re-launch with Carol Gould the Association of Philosophy Journal Editors to bring together philosophy journal editors to share ideas about best practice and the promoting our profession. I know my ranking of philosophy journals has been used by departments in North America and Europe -- and I am tempted to start a new discussion about what these rankings should look like now...

This list also contains some surprises. While my guidelines piece has been well received, I would have thought my piece on publishing advice - which I'm perhaps known for even  more and ranks in the top 100 most downloaded SSRN papers all-time - would have made my top 10 blogposts. A second surprise is my news round-up capturing initial media interest in my work on reforming the UK citizenship test makes the top 10, but not a post covering the much wider coverage - in 300+ media outlets - my report on the test received later that spring.

Of course, the biggest surprise of all is that my blog has continued to be received so well for so long. Much of the credit - as always! - must go to my old friend Brian Leiter for his warm support since day one. Much more credit must go to you, my reader, for taking the time to visit these pages. I am extremely grateful - and hope I can provide much of continuing interest in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Join Progress

Go on. Join Progress, the New Labour pressure group promoting progressive politics in the UK. Tell them I sent you.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Progress strategy board elections

I'm running for a place on the strategy board of Progress, a New Labour pressure group which aims to promote a radical and progressive politics for the 21st century founded in 1996.

My statement is:

I’m standing for election because I believe that I can promote Progress effectively to the Labour Party and wider electorate with new ideas. I am a proud member of both and believe that a strong Progress can strengthen Labour. I am an effective, award winning media commentator with frequent television, radio and newspaper interviews well placed to defend our message and make the case for Labour in the next general election.

I lecture at Durham University’s Law School and recently promoted to Professor of Law and Government. I teach advocacy and public policy with special interests in criminal justice and immigration policy. My research develops a new model for better incorporating the voices of victims in the criminal justice system through greater support for restorative justice. My work features in an award winning book, Punishment, and the spring issue of Demos Quarterly, a new online journal from Demos. These ideas have also caught the attention of the Labour Party and I am quoted in the Labour Party’s ‘Stronger, Safer Communities’ policy consultation on Your Britain. I am also known for my work on immigration. I’m originally from the US earning UK citizenship two years ago and made international headlines exposing serious flaws in the ‘Life in the UK’ test in my report--the most authoritative available--covered by over 300 news outlets.

I’d be honoured to join the Strategy Board and ensure our voices are heard within Labour and win over voters to win the next election.

Learn more about the candidates from the Progress Online website.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Durham ranked #1 and again at #1

Durham University was voted to have the number 1 most beautiful university building in the UK, with its University College (also known as Durham Castle), by Times Higher Education. The Castle is Norman and built by a cousin (I believe...) of William the Conqueror. It is the oldest continually used higher education building in the world.

Durham University's new Law School building is voted the number 1 most impressive Law School building in the world(!).

So two more reasons why Durham University is the place to be...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Another reason to love SSRN (Social Science Research Network)

There are a great many reasons to love the SSRN. First, it's the best online library of fabulous, first-class research I've seen in the subject matters I love most (law, philosophy, political science) and beyond (economics, etc.). Secondly, I know of no better website to get one's work "out there" and available for others to read. I have lost count of the number of colleagues that have well and truly transformed -- always for the better -- my work published online which has made a significant difference to improving the formal, final drafts I've published.

But a third is the insightful data the SSRN provides authors about their work. My latest:


Your Publicly Available (Scholarly and Other Papers) and Privately Available Papers on SSRN as of 20 August 2014 have:


(Note: The totals above are calculated specifically for this author letter as of 20 August 2014 for all your papers on SSRN (summing the data on both your publicly and privately available papers) and therefore may differ slightly from the numbers on the SSRN site.)

Your Author Statistics as of 08/01/2014 (out of 260,471 authors in SSRN, based only on Publicly Available, Downloadable Papers)

519 is your AUTHOR RANK, based on 23,285 TOTAL DOWNLOADS.
475 is your AUTHOR RANK, based on 2,923 DOWNLOADS IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS.
23,827 is your AUTHOR RANK, based on 11 TOTAL CITATIONS.

You can find the complete table of the Top Authors Ranking by Downloads and Citations at http://hq.ssrn.com/rankings/Ranking_display.cfm?TRN_gID=7"

SO my recommendation to readers is that - if you're not already on SSRN - you should do so...now!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Political theory & public policy

Political theorists can offer invaluable insights for policymakers. This may be surprising – and strike some readers as an oxymoron: what could sound, evidence-based policy gain from theorists? The answer is three things. First, political theorists can provide conceptual clarity. Their craft is to probe such questions further: what does it mean to ‘restore’ and what precisely is restored through restorative justice? Secondly, political theorists bring perspective. It can be easy for policy analysts to work in a disciplinary vacuum and fail to take stock of the larger picture. Political theorists specialise in the ability to connect abstract ideas to reality such as bringing together sentencing theory with its practice. Finally, political theorists are especially sensitive to theoretical consistency and its application. This can lead to some unexpected results, such as the idea that if restorative justice is about restoring offenders to law-abiding citizenship, then why should prisons or other forms of hard treatment never be considered where they could enable restoration? Criminal justice policy is one of many areas where political theorists can and should contribute to the policymaking process. The question should not be whether political theory matters, but rather which political theorists should be engaged.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On "Crime: How to Solve It"

British television presenter Nick Ross has published recently an engaging work, Crime: How to Solve It, which I've reviewed for Progress (a Labour Party-affiliated political group) here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Immigration to an independent Scotland - fact sheet

. . . can be found in my latest Durham Law School briefing available HERE. It attempts to clarify the known knowns, known unknowns...and unknown unknowns.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Customs at Gretna Green? Neither side is telling the whole truth on this one

. . . is my latest piece for The Conversation - here focusing on the implications for immigration law and policy if Scotland votes for independence. The essay can be found here.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Paper-hungry courts to go on a digital diet

. . . piece found here remains as true now as when published originally.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Labour to support devolved hubs

Today we see the news that the Labour Party will transferring greater powers - and money - to English cities creating new hubs (see here). I'm delighted by this - and called for a shift in this direction in my submission to Your Britain, the Labour Party's policy consultation.

Devolution has created certain problems, but also presents new opportunities. Devolution has worked well in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While voters in England (by far the most populated part of the UK) have shown no appetite for an English Parliament or regional assemblies, the idea of devolving greater powers to hubs harnessing the talents and potential of metropolitan areas can allow greater enterprise without added costs - nor a new layer of bureaucracy.

Now let's hope Labour wins the 2015 General Election to put these plans into practice...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What is wrong about the "criminal mind"?

. . . is my latest piece forthcoming in Northern Ireland Law Quarterly and available here. The abstract:

Retributivists argue for a strong link between a criminal’s mind-set at the time of an offence and our community’s response through punishment. This view claims that punishment can be justified depending on the possession of a criminal mind which can be affected by factors that may affect culpability, such as mitigating factors. Retributivism is a powerful influence on our sentencing practices reflected in policy. This article argues it is based on a mistake about what makes the criminal mind relevant for punishment. It will be argued that a currently popular view of retribution endorsed by Feinberg and Duff – ‘retributivist expressivism’ – incorrectly link punishment to a criminal’s possession of moral responsibility. This is a problem because its absence is no defence to strict liability offences, the largest subset of crimes. It is not a crime’s threat or harm to morals that is most salient, but instead its threat or harm to our rights.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New book: "New Waves in Global Justice"

Delighted to see my new edited collection -- New Waves in Global Justice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) -- is in print! The publisher's blurb:

New Waves in Global Justice brings together the leading future figures in global justice with essays ranging from climate change and global poverty to just war and human rights and immigration. An ideal collection for anyone interested in the most important debates in global justice, as well as those with an interest in the latest significant contributions from the leading new generation of international philosophers working in global justice.


Series Editors' Forward
Notes on contributors
1. Introduction; Thom Brooks
2. The Pursuit of Global Political Justice, or, What's Global Democracy For?; Luis Cabrera
3. Global Poverty and an Extraordinary Humanitarian Intervention; Gerhard Ă˜verland
4. Duties of Whom? States and the Problem of Global Justice; Milla Vaha
5. A Role for Coercive Force in the Theory of Global Justice?; Endre Begby
6. Cosmopolitan Commitments: Coercion, Legitimacy, and Global Justice; Nicole Hassoun
7. Beyond Nussbaum's Capability Approach: Future Generations and the Need for New Ways Forward; Krushil Watene
8. Cultural Injustice and Climate Change; Clare Heyward
9. Moral Grounds of the State Duty of Asylum; Eric Cavallero
10. MigrationMatch.Com: Towards a World Migration Organization?; Patti Tamara Lenard
11. NGO Accountability: The Civil Society Model for NGO-Stakeholder Relationships; Alice Obrecht
12. Global Justice and Global Philosophy; Thom Brooks

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Many thanks to Durham University's Students' Union

... for kindly awarding me two prizes. I won a prize for runner-up for best feedback and won the Lecturer of the Year award for my faculty (details here). I cannot believe my good luck and so grateful to my excellent students!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I got it right: no 'Polish precedent' for Romanian and Bulgarian migration to UK

. . . as I argued for here and now confirmed by latest official statistics. Of course, this is all contra the claims by Migration Watch - widely cited by the right wing press - that the UK would see a tidal wave of 50,000 migrants. Time for them to own up to getting it wrong?