Philosophy of law, with emphasis on epistemology and metaphysics and the law; philosophy of language and the law; and reasoning and the law. My primary research focus is on the concept of coherence and its use in legal theory and legal reasoning. I am also interested in the notions of concepts and conceptions and their application in legal theory and beyond. My research is inter-disciplinary, and I have recently collaborated with Simon Kirchin (Philosophy) on papers concerning (i) essentially contested concepts and (ii) the epistemology of disagreement literature. I am also interested in the legal writings of Francis Bacon and in the history of legal ideas from the early modern period onwards.
I also research in the area of data confidentiality, with particular focus on the health sector.
Major research project
Following D.Phil work on coherence and law (D.Phil 2001) I continue to research into the use of coherence in legal theory, philosophy and beyond. My present writing is conceptual, addressing methodological problems that I perceive to be present in existing literature that seeks to articulate coherence prior to its use. I aim to add to this writing (i.e. NILQ 2008; Ratio Juris forthcoming) in papers showing the epistemic and practical significance of these and related ideas.
Research Areas: Legal Theories and Philosophyback to top
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
Teaching and Supervision
- Convenor of A Critical Introduction to Law (LW307)
- Convenor of Philosophy of Law (LW540)
- Convenor of The Skills of Argument: How to Argue and Win
Stephen supervises students' research in the philosophy of law and in the history of legal ideas, particularly those areas near his own research interests.
A Baldwin: PhD "Essentialism and essentialisms in contemporary legal and feminist theory"
E Topham: PhD “Thick and Thin Concepts in Law”
M Almeida: PhD “H.L.A Hart, The Concept of Law and J.L. Austin”
M Kerin: M.Phil “A Critical Examination of Disagreement in Law”
D Weston: LLM by research “Conceptual Disagreement in Dworkin’s Justice for Hedgehogs”
Other Academic Activities
- Society of Legal Scholars
- Higher Education Academy
- Chief Examiner Stage II
- Tutor to Stage I students