Julie Dickson (LLB, Dip. L.P. Glasgow; MA, DPhil Oxf.) is Professor of Legal Philosophy in the Faculty of Law, and Fellow and Senior Law Tutor at Somerville College. After completing an undergraduate law degree at the University of Glasgow in her native Scotland, and a D. Phil in Philosophy of Law at Balliol College, Oxford, she held lectureships at the University of Leicester and University College London before taking up a Fellowship in Law at Somerville College in 2002.

Professor Dickson works mainly in general jurisprudence or philosophy of law, and especially on methodological issues, and her publications on this topic include her book, Evaluation and Legal Theory (2001). She is also interested in theoretical aspects of Transnational law, especially European Union Law, including the theory of legal systems in the EU context. Professor Dickson teaches Jurisprudence and European Union Law at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and has been the recipient of a University of Oxford teaching excellence award and nominated for an "Outstanding Tutor" award in the student-led Oxford Students Union teaching awards. She serves on the editorial board of several journals, including Legal Theory, Law and Philosophy, Transnational Legal Theory, the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and Problema, and was the Review Articles editor of the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies from 2003-2016.

Professor Dickson's most recently completed book project - as both co-editor and contributor - featured some of the best contemporary work combining legal and political philosophy and European Union law. J. Dickson and P. Eleftheriadis (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of European Union Law, was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. She is currently working on a new monograph on the methodology of Legal Philosophy (under contract with Oxford University Press), working title: Elucidating Law, which she hopes will be published in 2021. Following this she plans to write a short book on the value of content-independence in law (under contract with Cambridge University Press). She is also a keen amateur photographer with a particular interest in wildlife photography.

See also the interview on the Jurisprudence in Oxford subject page:


Recent additions

Chapter (8)

J Dickson, 'Descriptive Legal Theory' in M Sellers & S Kirste (ed), Encyclopaedia of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (Springer 2019)
This is a new version, updated for 2017.
ISBN: 978-94-007-6518-4
J Dickson, 'Law and Its Theory: a Question of Priorities' in R P George and J Keown (eds), Reason, Morality and Law: the Jurisprudence of John Finnis (Oxford University Press 2013)
ISBN: 0199675503
J Dickson, 'Towards a Theory of European Union Legal Systems' in J Dickson & P Eleftheriadis (ed), Philosophical Foundations of European Union Law (Oxford University Press 2012)
ISBN: 9780199588770
J Dickson and P Eleftheriaidis, 'Introduction: The Puzzles of European Union Law' in J Dickson & P Eleftheriadis (ed), Philosophical Foundations of European Union Law (Oxford University Press 2012)
J Dickson, 'Legal Positivism: Contemporary Debates' in Andrei Marmor (ed), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law (Routledge 2012)
J Dickson, 'The Idea of a Legal System: Between the Real and the Ideal' in N Walker (ed), MacCormick's Scotland (Edinburgh University Press 2012)
J Dickson, 'Is Bad Law Still Law? Is Bad Law Really Law?' in Maksymilian Del Mar and Zenon Bankowski (eds), Law as Institutional Normative Order (Ashgate 2009)
ISBN: 9780754677086
J Dickson, 'Interpreting Normativity' in (ed), Properties of Law: Essays in Honour of Jim Harris (OUP 2006)
This article was commissioned by the editors of a festschrift volume of essays in honour of Professor Jim Harris' work. It examines and critically assesses Professor Harris' interpretation of the work of Hans Kelsen on the normativity of law.
ISBN: 0-19-929096-2

Journal Article (12)

J Dickson, 'Why General Jurisprudence is Interesting' (2017) 49 Crítica 11
In a recent article entitled, ‘Is General Jurisprudence Interesting?’, David Enoch answers his own question resoundingly in the negative. This article critically examines the character of Enoch’s claim, the presuppositions it rests on, and the way in which he seeks to establish it. Having argued that many of Enoch’s views in this regard hinge on a narrow and idiosyncratic understanding of the questions that general jurisprudence addresses, and of the relations between those questions and many other inquiries concerning the character of law, the article concludes by offering its author’s own vision of what makes general jurisprudence engaging, intriguing, and … well … interesting.
ISBN: 1870-4905
J Dickson, 'Ours is a Broad Church: Indirectly Evaluative Legal Philosophy as a Facet of Jurisprudential Inquiry' (2015) 6 Jurisprudence 207
Questions concerning the aims and aspirations, criteria of success and even proper delineation of the subject matter of theories of law, have given rise to some of the most intractable and contentious debates in contemporary legal philosophy. In this article, I outline my vision of the remit and character of legal philosophy, with particular emphasis on the methodological approach with which I am most concerned in my own work, and which I refer to here as ‘indirectly evaluative legal philosophy’ (IELP). I do so partly in response to some vehement criticisms of, and, in my view, significant mischaracterisations of, IELP and cognate approaches to theorising about law, which feature in some recent jurisprudential debates. My position, which I am in the process of developing in depth in a new monograph, supports a pluralistic methodological outlook which emphasises disciplinary and sub-disciplinary complementarity as an alternative to the febrile adversarialism sometimes afflicting our discipline. For, in my view, ours is a broad church, and all theoretical accounts able to illuminate and help us understand any aspect of law’s variegated and complex character are (to invoke a Scottish saying) welcome in the main body o’ the kirk.
J Dickson, 'Who’s Afraid of Transnational Legal Theory?: Dangers and Desiderata' (2015) 6 Transnational Legal Theory 565
DOI: 10.1080/20414005.2015.1120022
The rise in both number and importance of various forms of intra-, inter-, supra- and trans-national legal phenomena presents distinctive challenges for legal philosophers seeking to explain and evaluate such phenomena. This article focuses on one facet of those challenges, namely their relevance for the methodology, or the philosophy, of transnational legal theory. Must we devise new legal philosophical methodologies in order successfully to explain and evaluate transnational legal phenomena? Or do we merely need to apply, and perhaps somewhat adapt, existing methodological approaches successfully deployed in general legal philosophy, to the particular case of transnational law? This article takes the approach of identifying and exploring some dangers to be overcome or avoided, and some desiderata that we should strive to attain, if our theories of law are to be sufficiently attuned to, and appropriately illuminating regarding, the domain of transnational law.
J Dickson, 'Directives in European Union Legal Systems: Whose Norms Are They Anyway?' (2011) 17 European Law Journal 190
This article is concerned with whether the concept of a legal system - long a centrepiece of state-based legal theories – is a useful conceptual tool in theorising the contemporary European Union and its legal relations with its Member States. The focus lies particularly with EU Directives, and with what the character and operation of this distinctive type of EU norm can tell us a regards the existence of and relations between legal systems in the EU. I argue for the view that the EU is comprised of distinct but interacting legal systems at EU and national level, and claim that the character and operation of directives supports this view. Throughout the discussion I try to bring the conceptual tools of analytical legal philosophy to bear on puzzles generated by EU law and its relations with national law, in order to show that a sound analysis of aspects of the EU can benefit from abstract legal philosophical reflection, and vice versa.
ISBN: 1468-0386
J Dickson, 'On Naturalizing Jurisprudence: Some Comments on Brian Leiter’s View of What Jurisprudence Should Become ' (2011) 30 Law and Philosophy 477
ISBN: 0167-5249
J Dickson, 'How Many Legal Systems? Some Puzzles Regarding the Identity Conditions of, and Relations Between, Legal Systems in the European Union' (2008) 2 Problema 9
In this article I discuss various possible ways of understanding the character of and relations between legal systems in the European Union. In particular, I consider whether there is an EU legal system distinct from and in addition to the national legal systems of EU Member States, or whether it is better to conceive of EU law merely as an aspect of Member States’ legal systems, or indeed whether we should think of there being but a single EU legal system of which Member States’ “national legal systems” are in some sense sub-systems.
ISBN: 2007-4387
J Dickson, 'Methodology in Jurisprudence: a critical survey' (2004) 10(3) Legal Theory 117
ISBN: 1352-3252
J Dickson, 'The Central Questions of Legal Philosophy' (2003) 56 Current Legal Problems 63
ISBN: 0-19-927042-2

Book (3)

J Dickson and P Eleftheriadis (eds), Philosophical Foundations of European Union Law (Oxford University Press 2012)
J Dickson, Evaluación en la teoría del derecho (Spanish language edition of Evaluation and Legal Theory, UNAM Press, México,D.F. 2006)
ISBN: ISBN 970-32-3374-0
J Dickson, Evaluation and Legal Theory (Hart Publishing 2001)
Spanish language edition published by the National Autonomous University of Mexico Press in association with Hart Publishing in 2006, translated by Dr Juan Vega Gomez
ISBN: 1-84113-184-9

Internet Publication (2)

J Dickson, 'Descriptive Legal Theory' (2006) IVR Encyclopaedia of Jurisprudence, Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law
This article was commissioned by the then editor of the IVR Encyclopaedia of legal philosophy. The article surveys and critically evaluates "descriptive" approaches to legal theory in light of recent challenges to the possibility and usefulness of this approach to jurisprudence
J Dickson, 'Interpretation and Coherence in Legal Reasoning' (2001) (Fall 2001 Edition, revised June 2005 and September 2009) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. - E. Zalta)
Fully peer reviewed encyclopaedia article discussing the nature of legal reasoning and, in particular, the role of interpretation and coherence in legal reasoning. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is an important reference resource for legal philosophers. 10000 words approx.
ISBN: 1095-5054

Other (6)

J Dickson, 'Review Articles Editor' (2003) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
J Dickson, 'Member of the Editorial Board' (2000) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
J Dickson, 'Member of the Editorial Board' (2000) Law and Philosophy Law and Philosophy
J Dickson, 'Member of the Editorial Board' (2000) Legal Theory Legal Theory
J Dickson, 'Member of the Editorial Board' (2000) Transnational Legal Theory Transnational Legal Theory
J Dickson, 'Member of the Editorial Board' (2000) Problema Problema

Review (1)

J Dickson, 'Legal Positivism and Moral Scepticism: An Unholy Alliance?' (1999) 28 Anglo-American Law Review 243 [Review]

Research programmes

Research projects

Research Interests

Jurisprudence, Philosophy of Law, European Union Law, Philosophy of European Union Law, Transnational legal theory.

Options taught

Jurisprudence, European Union Law, Jurisprudence and Political Theory

Research projects