Photo by Steve Pyke, 2010
Brian Leiter is Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values at the University of Chicago. He teaches and writes primarily in the areas of moral, political, and legal philosophy, in both Anglophone and Continental traditions.
|Reviews of Leiter,
Nietzsche on Morality (Routledge, 2002; 2nd edition forthcoming)
“[A]rguably the most important book on Nietzsche’s philosophy in
the past twenty years…”
“[T]he book offers one of the most comprehensive
and compelling interpretations of Nietzsche’s critique of morality….
With its distinctive emphasis on naturalistic themes, it
forms a very significant contribution to the study of Nietzsche
and is poised to become a work of reference in the field.”
rare example of a book of considerable scholarly and philosophical
merit that is accessible to a wide audience….Leiter brings much
needed rigor and clarity to Nietzsche studies.”
“[T]he book sets the standard by which future
treatments of this subject matter will be measured and I would expect
it to be a primary point of reference for discussions of Nietzsche
and ethics for quite some time.”
“Leiter’s book is both a major contribution
to Nietzsche’s studies and a very helpful guide for students to
Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality.”
“This work is simply the best…book-length exposition
of Nietzsche’s Genealogy.
As such, it will be the reference point for all further scholarly
work on the subject.”
“This is a very impressive book, offering a
distinctive and highly intelligent reading of Nietzsche’s moral
philosophy….Leiter writes in a clear and engaging way and he has
organized his material very helpfully….A real achievement.”
Leiter’s hands, Nietzsche’s philosophical interests, at least with
regard to morality and the ‘revaluation,’ gain a coherence and dialectical
focus which his writings on other matters sometimes fail to suggest….The
book is clear, crisply written, and engaging.
It operates on a level wholly appropriate to its main intended
readership, given that the Genealogy itself is not the stuff
of introductory undergraduate courses.
But Leiter also has much to offer the more advanced reader.
Although only a short closing chapter is explicitly devoted
to evaluating Nietzsche’s views, the text is in effect a protracted
argument, constantly seeking to interpret the writings so as to
bring out what is most plausible in them….[O]verall, the book does
something novel and important, in seeking to expound Nietzsche’s
thinking specifically on morality to an undergraduate audience,
while offering a highly stimulating reading of that thinking itself.”
|Reviews of Leiter,
Why Tolerate Religion? (Princeton University Press, 2013)
"A model of clarity and rigour and at points strikingly original,
this is a book that anyone who thinks seriously about religion, ethics and
politics will benefit from reading."
"A slim volume, deeply conversant with the literature in law and philosophy,
and by turns bold, bracing and bruising, Why Tolerate Religion? should
command the attention of anyone interested in the place of faith in the
"Although this is a rather bold and provocative thesis, Leiter's approach
is highly nuanced and painstakingly thorough, as he patiently walks readers
through each definition, consideration, and possible objection. The overall
effect is a very impressively argued case."
""Why Tolerate Religion? is a readable book that exposes several
tenuous assumptions underlying the predominant justifications for religious
exemptions. At the same time, it provides a fresh and intuitive framework for
analyzing conscience-based objections to facially neutral laws that should appeal
to legal practitioners, jurists, and philosophers alike."
"Think you understand religious toleration? Think again. Brian
Leiter's bracing argument moves deftly from the classics of
political philosophy to the riddles of modern case law,
demolishing old nostrums and sowing fresh insights with each
step. Every reader will learn something from this remarkable
book, and, beginning now, every serious scholar of religious
toleration will have to contend with Leiter's bold claims."
"This is a provocative and bracing essay, one that is bound
to stimulate much discussion."
"The place of religion in the public arena, and the kind of
protection and even respect it should be entitled to from the
state, is a topic of significant contemporary interest. Leiter
writes about it with wit and good humor. He is even bruising on
occasion. But there can be no doubting his capacity as a
scholar, his intellectual energy, or his ability to persuade."
"Leiter argues that there are no principled, moral reasons
for singling out religion as the subject of toleration. He has
cut through a dense philosophical and legal literature, focused
on a question of great importance, and developed a provocative,
sharp, and yet nuanced case. Anyone concerned with this topic
will have to read and take seriously the arguments presented in
this very well-written and accessible book."
Reviews of Leiter, Naturalizing Jurisprudence: Essays on American Legal Realism and Naturalism in Legal Philosophy (Oxford, 2007)
is one of the leading proponents of the use and application of so-called
‘naturalistic developments’ in contemporary philosophy to central
questions in analytic jurisprudence. He is also arguably the
leading philosophical interpreter of legal realism. In Naturalizing
Jurisprudence, he collects many of his most important essays
on these topics, organized by theme, and presents previously unpublished
responses to critics. The result is a work that goes well beyond
the individual essays to present a trenchant, multi-faceted and
mutually-reinforcing set of challenges to core views and methodologies
that are prevalent in the field. In an important sense, the book
is also agenda-setting: it clarifies the impact that naturalistic
developments in philosophy can have on core questions in analytic
jurisprudence, while gesturing towards a larger and partly empirical
project aimed at working out the full scope of these consequences
for legal epistemology, the nature of law, and the objectivity of
legal judgment. This
is thus an important book by one of the most influential legal philosophers
of our time.”
“More than ten years ago, Leiter advanced the idea that Quinean naturalism could shed light on important and pressing issues in jurisprudence. Leiter’s research aims to answer three core questions within the framework of naturalism: what the American Legal Realists were trying to convey, what is the most appropriate methodology to apply to future inquiries in legal philosophy, and whether legal and moral facts should have a place in our best explanatory account of law. Naturalised jurisprudence brought fresh, fruitful, and powerful ways of thinking in legal philosophy. It obliged us to rethink the self-image of legal philosophy and its location in the wider spectrum of epistemology, philosophy of language and mind, metaethics, and morality. The collection of essays is, then, the reflection of a thoughtful, insightful, and influential body of work. It comprises nine previously published essays and two unpublished postscripts to the essays. It is a superb contribution because of its rigorous scholarship and honest analysis...
“Leiter’s collection is a sophisticated and
creative view on naturalism in legal philosophy marking a
tour de force in jurisprudential
thinking. It raises fundamental challenges to non-naturalist jurisprudence
that, in my view, cannot be ignored if legal philosophers are to
ensure disciplinary progress.”
“Ever since W.V. Quine…naturalism has become an important topic in core areas of philosophy, such as epistemology, the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of mind; and it has now, much thanks to the writings of Brian Leiter, reached jurisprudence (or legal philosophy). Accordingly, the task of gaining an understanding of the implications of a naturalist approach to the problems of jurisprudence…is on the agenda of contemporary jurisprudence….
“Leiter’s book is a well-written and substantial
contribution to the field of jurisprudence, and I warmly recommend
it to anyone with an interest in contemporary jurisprudence, or
in the implications of a naturalist approach to philosophy.
Leiter’s ability to chart the implications of a naturalist
research programme in jurisprudence, and to pinpoint the weak spots
in the writings of other philosophers in the process, together with
the clarity of his reasoning, is impressive.”
“Throughout, his prose is splendidly lucid,
and his arguments are forcefully and piquantly presented.
Readers who dissent from some of his philosophical stances
(as I do) will profit greatly from engaging with his vigorously
articulated lines of reasoning.
Leiter is an incisive and erudite philosopher with whom disagreements
are stimulatingly worthwhile….[I]t stands as a major contribution
to contemporary legal philosophy.
His unremittingly naturalistic outlook…is a genuinely distinctive
perspective in the contemporary debates, and Leiter adroitly connects
that outlook both to Legal Realism and to the Quinean tradition
of philosophy. He does
so, moreover, in prose that is at once accessible and sophisticatedly
deserves to be read widely and commended warmly.”
Brian Leiter & Neil Sinhababu (eds.), Nietzsche and Morality
(Oxford University Press, 2007)
Brian Leiter (ed.), Objectivity in Law and Morals (Cambridge
University Press, 2001)
||John Richardson & Brian Leiter (eds.), Nietzsche (Oxford Readings in Philosophy) (2001)|
Brian Leiter & Michael Rosen (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of
Continental Philosophy (2007)
||Brian Leiter (ed.), The Future for Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2004)||Maudemarie Clark & Brian Leiter (eds.), Nietzsche's Daybreak (Cambridge University Press, 1997)|
Leslie Green & Brian Leiter (eds.), Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of
Law, Volume 1 (Oxford University Press, 2011)