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Stephen R. Perry

John J. O'Brien Professor of Law & Professor of Philosophy; Director, Institute of Law & Philosophy

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry is a prominent legal philosopher and legal theorist. Before taking up his current position at Penn, he taught at McGill University and was later the Fiorello La Guardia Professor of Law at NYU Law School. Continue reading… Stephen Perry is a prominent legal philosopher and legal theorist. Before taking up his current position at Penn, he taught at McGill University and was later the Fiorello La Guardia Professor of Law at NYU Law School. He has published numerous well regarded articles on jurisprudence, political philosophy, and theoretical aspects of the law of torts. He is particularly interested in the methodology of jurisprudence, the general nature of authority and obligation in law, the role of corrective justice in tort law, the morality of risk imposition, and the relationship between legal and moral responsibility. Perry is a sought-after lecturer and panelist. He has presented papers in many different venues, including the Analytic Legal Philosophy Conference and the Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy at NYU Law School. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute, and in the fall of 2012 he will be a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at King’s College, London. Last May he taught an intensive course on Political Authority at Tel Aviv University.



  • Torts
  • Legal Philosophy
  • Political Philosophy

Articles and Book Chapters

Tort Law, in COMPANION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF LAW AND LEGAL THEORY 64 (Dennis Patterson ed., 2d ed. 2009).

Beyond the Distinction between Positivism and Non-Positivism, 22 RATIO JURIS 311 (2009).

The Role of Duty of Care in a Rights-Based Theory of Tort Law, in THE GOALS OF PRIVATE LAW 79 (Andrew Robertson & Tang Hang Wu eds., 2009).

Where Have All the Powers Gone? Hartian Rules of Recognition, Noncognitivism, and the Constitutional and Jurisprudential Foundations of Law, in THE RULE OF RECOGNITION AND THE U.S. CONSTITUTION (Matthew D. Adler & Kenneth Einar Himma eds., Oxford Univ. Press 2009).

Risk, Harm, Interests, and Rights, in RISK: PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVES 190 (Tim Lewens ed., Routledge 2007).

Two Problems of Political Authority, 6 AM. PHIL. ASS’N NEWSL. ON L. & PHIL. 31 (2007).

Hart on Social Rules and the Foundations of Law: Liberating the Internal Point of View, 75 FORDHAM L. REV. 1171 (2006).

Associative Obligations and the Obligation to Obey the Law, in EXPLORING LAW’S EMPIRE: THE JURISPRUDENCE OF RONALD DWORKIN 183 (Scott Hershovitz ed., Oxford Univ. Press 2006).

Law and Obligation, 50 AM. J. JURISPRUDENCE 263 (2005).

Harm, History, and Counterfactuals, 40 SAN DIEGO L. REV. 1283 (2003).

Method and Principle in Legal Theory, 111 YALE L.J. 1757 (2002).

Responsibility for Outcomes, Risk, and the Law of Torts, in PHILOSOPHY AND THE LAW OF TORTS 72 (Gerald Postema ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 2001).

On the Relationship between Corrective and Distributive Justice, in OXFORD ESSAYS IN JURISPRUDENCE, 237 (Jeremy Horder ed., 4th series, Oxford Univ. Press 2000).

Holmes v. Hart: The Bad Man in Legal Theory, in THE PATH OF THE LAW AND ITS INFLUENCE: THE LEGACY OF OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR. 158 (Steven Burton ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 2000).

Hart’s Methodological Positivism, 4 LEGAL THEORY 427 (1998), reprinted in HART’S POSTSCRIPT 311 (Jules Coleman ed., Oxford Univ. Press 2001).

Libertarianism, Entitlement, and Responsibility, 26 PHIL. & PUB. AFF. 351 (1997).

Two Models of Legal Principles, 82 IOWA L. REV. 787 (1997).

The Varieties of Legal Positivism, 9 CANADIAN J.L. & JURISPRUDENCE 361 (1996).

Risk, Harm and Responsibility, in PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF TORT LAW 321 (David Owen ed., 1995).

Interpretation and Methodology in Legal Theory, in LAW AND INTERPRETATION: ESSAYS IN LEGAL PHILOSOPHY (Andrei Marmor ed., 1995).

The Moral Foundations of Tort Law, 77 IOWA L. REV. 449 (1992) (contribution to Symposium on Corrective Justice and Formalism).

Protected Interests and Undertakings in the Law of Negligence, 42 U. TORONTO L.J. 247 (1992).

Second-Order Reasons, Uncertainty and Legal Theory, 62 S. CAL. L. REV. 913 (1989) (contribution to a symposium on the works of Joseph Raz; Raz replies in Facing Up: A Reply, 62 S. CAL. L. REV. 1153 (1989)).

The Impossibility of General Strict Liability, 1 CANADIAN J. L. & JURISPRUDENCE 147 (1988), reprinted in TORT LAW (Ernest J. Weinrib ed., 1991), in 12 J. PRODUCTS LIABILITY 383 (1989), and in PHILOSOPHY OF LAW 554 (Joel Feinberg & Jules Coleman eds., 2000).

Judicial Obligation, Precedent and the Common Law, 7 OXFORD J. LEGAL STUD. 215 (1987), reprinted in COMMON LAW (Michael T. W. Arnheim ed., 1994).

More publications can be found here.

Working Papers

Political Authority and Political Obligation in 2 OXFORD STUDIES IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF LAW (Leslie Green & Brian Leiter eds., (forthcoming 2013)
[View Document]

Research Areas

  • Tort Theory
  • Jurisprudence
  • Political Philosophy


Penn Law - John J. O'Brien Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy (2005- ); Co-Director, Institute for Law and Philosophy (2009- ); John J. O'Brien Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy (1997-2003); Professor (1996-97); Visiting (1995-96)

NYU Law School – Fiorello La Guardia Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy (2003–05)

Visiting Professor - NYU Law School (1999-2000), University of San Diego Law School (1994)

Member of Advisory Board of Legal Theory (1998- ); Member of the American Law Institute (1998- )

McGill University - Associate Professor (1991-96); Assistant Professor (1987-91); Visiting Professor (1985-87); Boulton Fellow (1984-85)

Law Clerk to Justice Bertha Wilson, Supreme Court of Canada (1983-84)


  • Torts
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Political Authority and Political Obligation
  • Philosophical Aspects of Tort Law
  • Responsibility and Law
  • Equality and Distributive Justice (PPE Program)

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