B. Jur. (Athens), LL.M. (Lond), D.Phil. (Oxon).

Nicos Stavropoulos is the Associate Professor of Legal Theory, one of the three permanent University posts in legal philosophy. He teaches and supervises research in jurisprudence. His research interests are in legal and political philosophy and the philosophy of language. His book Objectivity in Law was published by the Clarendon Press. He is currently working on a book on the grounds of law, which explores the mechanism through which political institutions shape the law. In recent work he explores different approaches to this fundamental explanation and the role of language within it.

Stavropoulos completed the DPhil at Brasenose.  Prior to joining the Faculty he practiced for several years, and served as Special Adviser in policy units under the Minister of Energy and Industry of Greece and at the Secretariat of the Cabinet under the Prime Minister of Greece.

Stavropoulos has been a Fellow at the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He serves on the board of Legal Theory and Law and Philosophy.


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  • Nicos Stavropoulos, 'The Debate That Never Was' (2017) 130 Harvard Law Review 2082
    The Hart-Dworkin debate, which is widely understood to have dominated jurisprudence since the late 1960s, is a philosophical fiction. Hart only responded to Dworkin's work in his Postscript to the Concept of Law (posthumously published in 1994), and although Dworkin wrote a rejoinder at the time, it had remained to this day unpublished. What has really dominated the field is a debate between Dworkin and his critics. The critics have resisted Dworkin’s assertion that morality plays a fundamental role in the explanation of legal rights and obligations. It is, however, doubtful that the role of morality that the critics have been denying is the one that Dworkin asserted.
    ISBN: 0017-811X
  • Nicos Stavropoulos, 'Words and Obligations' in Andrea Dolcetti, Luis Duarte d'Almeida, James Edwards (ed), Reading the Concept of Law (Hart Publishing 2013) (forthcoming)
  • Nicos Stavropoulos, 'Obligations and the Legal Point of View' in A. Marmor (ed), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Law (Routledge 2012)
    It's uncontroversial that politics shapes the law. The tough question is how exactly that works: which kinds of political action have a law-shaping effect and how they produce that effect. Consider the enactment of a statute. A. Which precise aspect of the action is relevant to the legal impact of the enactment (the change in legal rights and obligations that obtains without further such action)? B. Why - what gives some aspect of the action its legal relevance? Analogous questions also arise in connection with the explanation of some other phenomena, including making a promise, decision or request - actions or attitudes which are generally understood to result in some distinctive obligations or to have some other distinctive normative significance or impact, or at least to be capable of so doing. The relevant theoretical choices are posed particularly clearly in these domains, so I explore them in some detail in relation to promising.
    ISBN: 0415878187
  • Nicos Stavropoulos, 'The Relevance of Coercion: Some Preliminaries' (2009) 22 Ratio Juris 339
    Many philosophers take the view that, while coercion is a prominent and enduring feature of legal practice, its existence does not reflect a deep, constitutive property of law and therefore coercion plays at best a very limited role in the explanation of law's nature. This view has become more or less the orthodoxy in modern jurisprudence. I argue that an interesting and plausible possible role for coercion in the explanation of law is untouched by the arguments in support of the orthodox view. Since my main purpose is to clear the ground for the alternative, I spell out the orthodox view in some detail. I then briefly sketch the alternative. Finally, I turn to Jules Coleman's discussion of the alternative.
    ISBN: 1467-9337
  • Nicos Stavropoulos, 'Why Principles?' (2007) SSRN - Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No.28/2007
  • Nicos Stavropoulos, 'Objectivity' in M.P. Golding and W. A. Edmundson (eds), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory (Blackwell 2005)
    ISBN: 0-631-22831-4
  • Nicos Stavropoulos, 'Hart's Semantics' in J. Coleman (ed), Hart's Postscript (OUP 2001)
    ISBN: 0-19-829908-7
  • Nicos Stavropoulos, Objectivity in Law (Clarendon Press 1996)
    ISBN: 0-19-825899-2

Research programmes

Research Interests

Jurisprudence, Legal Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, Political Philosophy, Metaphysics, Philosophy

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