Sevel, Michael

Senior Lecturer of Jurisprudence

The University of Sidney, Sydney Law School, Australia

United States

Max Weber alumnus

Department of Law

Cohort(s): 2010/2011

Ph.D. Institution

University of Texas at Austin, United States


I earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Philosophy, in 2010, and a J.D., with honours, in 2008, from the University of Texas at Austin; an M.A. in Philosophy from Virginia Tech University; and a B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi.
My research interests are in general jurisprudence, in particular theories of practical authority, as well as related issues in agency and tort law. I also have interests in maritime law, and in ancient Greek legal philosophy.
In my dissertation, ‘Essays on Authority’, I argue that leading philosophical theories of authority do not adequately account for how the exercise of authority fits into obedient subjects’ self-understanding. I draw on social psychological research concerning the capacity people display in identifying the actions they perform, and show the ways in which authorities interfere with the exercise of this capacity. I argue that the role authorities play in this regard constitutes an additional justificatory burden.
Future projects include exploring how my account of authority fits into the most plausible theory of law, and the role of testimony in our knowledge of the law.
My paper ‘Legal Positivism and the Rule of Law’ was the prize winner of the 2008 international essay competition sponsored by the Australian Society of Legal Philosophy; it was subsequently published in 2009 in the Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy. I also co-authored (with Brian Leiter) a forthcoming entry on Legal Positivism in Oxford Bibliographies Online for Oxford University Press.

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