Grounding in Law: The Nature of Explanatory Projects in Legal Philosophy and their Relevance for Scots Law

Principal Investigator: Stephan Leuenberger
Co-investigator: George Pavlakos
Funded by: The Royal Society of Edinburgh 

​We commonly take it for granted that there are legal fact to the effect that a certain contract is valid, or that a certain action constitutes a crime. But in jurisprudence and philosophy of law, their status has long been a matter of debate. They are certainly not fundamental facts, but rather derivative of more basic, non-legal facts. But what is the precise nature of these more fundamental facts and how do they feature in the explanation of why legal facts obtain? Our project will investigate this question, by drawing on the resources of contemporary metaphysics – specifically, the concept of “grounding”. That concept has recently been used to articulate a structured view of reality, according to which facts and entities of different levels are linked across different levels. The concept seems tailor-made to be of use in philosophy of law. But while such an application has been suggested in the literature, nobody has developed this idea yet – and this is what we propose to do in this project.

​For a more detailed description of this project click here.

Project track record 

Workshop 1: Grounding in Law
Pompeu Fabra University. June 12-13, 2019
Organisers: Stephan Leuenberger (Glasgow), Samuele Chilovi (Pompeu Fabra), Chiara Valentini (Pompeu Fabra)
Speakers: Samuele Chilovi (Pompeu Fabra), Triantafyllos Gkouvas (Glasgow), Stephan Krämer (Hamburg), Stephan Leuenberger (Glasgow), Dan Lopez de Sa (Barcelona), Jose Juan Moreso (Pompeu Fabra), George Pavlakos (Glasgow), David Plunkett (Dartmouth), Corrado Roversi (Bologna), Monika Zalewska (Lodz)

Blame and Responsibility

Principal Investigator: Jessica Brown
Network members: J. Adam CarterChristoph KelpGlen PettigroveMona Simion (Glasgow) and Elinor MasonAidan McGlynnPatrick Todd (Edinburgh)
Funded by: The Royal Society of Edinburgh 

Blame is traditionally studied within ethics as part of the topic of individual moral responsibility for action. However, as is increasingly recognised, there are important connections between moral responsibility and epistemology. For instance, one can be blameworthy not only for one’s actions but also for certain beliefs (e.g. prejudices and dogmatic beliefs against the evidence). Prejudice can lead to a specifically epistemic form of injustice as when the word of women or members of certain minorities are given less credibility than they deserve. Last, groups as well as individuals are often treated as morally responsible and blameworthy. But, making sense of group moral responsibility requires answering questions in social epistemology about what it is for a group to have beliefs or knowledge.

The project will exploit the strength of Scottish philosophy, bringing together researchers from the philosophy departments at Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews with expertise in epistemology and moral philosophy. 

Project track record

Workshop 1: Who are we to blame?
The University of Edinburgh. April 8-9, 2019
Local organisers: Patrick Todd and Elinor Mason
SpeakersJustin Coates (Houston); Elinor Mason (Edinburgh), Dana Nelkin (UCSD), Maggie O’Brien (Edinburgh), Samuel Rickless (UCSD), Matthew Talbert (Lund), Patrick Todd (Edinburgh), Brian Rabern (Edinburgh)

Workshop 2: Group agency and belief
The University of St Andrews. July 1-2, 2019
Local organiser: Jessica Brown.
For further details, see the Arche website
Speakers: Gunnar Bjornsson (Stockholm), Jessica Brown (St Andrews), Stephanie Collins (Australian Catholic University), Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern), Hans Bernhard Schmid (Vienna), Deborah Tollefsen (Memphis).

Workshop 3: Epistemic injustice and blame
The University of Glasgow. December 10-11, 2019
Local organiser: COGITO, University of Glasgow (Aidan McGlynn, Christoph Kelp, Mona Simion)
Speakers: Miranda Fricker (CUNY), Paul Giladi (Manchester Metropolitan), Aidan McGlynn (Edinburgh), Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (British Columbia), Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern), Federico Luzzi (Aberdeen),  Elinor Mason (Edinburgh),  
Venue: Humanities Lecture Theatre, Main Building, University of Glasgow

Public Roundtable Discussion: Blame, Apology and Forgiveness
Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. December 11, 2019
Local organiser: COGITO, University of Glasgow (Christoph Kelp and Mona Simion)
Speakers: Miranda Fricker (CUNY), Elinor Mason (Edinburgh), Glen Pettigrove (Glasgow)
Venue: Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, Lecture Theatre K3.25, John Anderson Building, University of Strathclyde, Rottenrow East, Glasgow.