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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Michael Neu researches in political and moral philosophy, with special interests in the politics and ethics of violence. He has published on contemporary just war theory, the "Responsibility to Protect", sweatshops, torture and the notion of "complicity". His current research is on "friendship".

Supervisory Interests

Michael is keen on supervising students who do critical work on "just" war, "humanitarian" intervention, violence more broadly, and friendship.

He has previously supervised Afxentis Afxentiou's PhD on "The Politics and Ethics of Drone Bombing" (with Robin Dunford and Lucy Noakes), which Afxentis passed with no corrections.

As a second supervisor, Michael is currently supervising Pam Laidman's work on "Self-Neglect" (with Bob Brecher).

Scholarly biography

Michael completed his PhD on The Dilemma of Justified War at Sheffield University (2010) and was subsequently awarded the Political Studies Association (PSA) Sir Ernest Barker Prize for the best dissertation in Political Theory. He has been teaching at Brighton since 2012, particularly on the Philosophy, Politics, and Ethics BA, as well as the War and Conflict BA. He is also a member of CAPPE, as well as co-organiser, with the Humanities undergraduate students, of the Humanities Society seminar series.

Michael is committed to interdisciplinary and collaborative work. He has published two books: Just Liberal Violence: Sweatshops, Torture, War (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2018) and, together with Robin Dunford, Just War and the Responsibility to Protect: A Critique (London Zed Books, 2019). A briefer version of their argument has been published by the European Journal of International Relations ("The Responsibility to Protect in a world of already existing intervention"). Robin and Michael are now in the process of initiating a global network of scholars and activists aimed at undermining just war theory and making it disappear.

Michael has also co-edited and co-authored a volume on Exploring Complicity: Concept, Cases and Critique (with Robin Dunford and Afxentis Afxentiou, Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016), and co-edits, with Bob Brecher and Robin Dunford, a new book series with Rowman and Littlefield International: Off the Fence. In 2016, Michael convened the Political Studies Association "Politics and the Good Life" Conference held at Brighton (with Andy Knott).

In the future, Michael aims to focus his research primarily on the question of how human beings ought (not) to relate to the non-human world, as well as - in collaboration with Vicky Margree - on friendship. How can we live, and live together, in a way that is not as dramatically unsustainable and violent? How can we create conditions under which friendship can thrive?

Approach to teaching

The most important challenge for a teacher is not to impart knowledge but to make students realise, in case they haven't already, that it is possible to think. The only way in which you can achieve this is by taking them seriously – as seekers of knowledge and as persons in the world. Good teaching, then, is about attending closely to individuals as much as it is about creating a joyful atmosphere in which equals can thrive. Overall, it's probably fair to say that spending time with students who are thoughtful, curious and creative ranks amongst the most enjoybable activities in the world.


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