BRIAN LEITER
Brian Leiter
Photo by Steve Pyke, 2010
 

BRIAN LEITER

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.

NEW:
CBC Radio Program on Nietzsche
"Why Tolerate Religion?", Carnegie Council on Ethics and Public Affairs, December 2012
Interview with 3AM magazine
Interview about Nietzsche at The Browser

 

Books

Why Tolerate Religion
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…”
           --Mark Jenkins, Journal of Nietzsche Studies (2010)

“[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.”
           --Bernard Reginster, Notre Dame Philosophical Review (2003)

 “[A] 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.”
           --Thomas L. Carson, Ethics (2004)

“[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.”
           --Peter Poellner, University of Warwick

“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.”
           --Maudemarie Clark, University of California, Riverside & Colgate University

“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.”
           --Ken Gemes, Birkbeck College, University of London

“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.”
           --Aaron Ridley, University of Southampton

 “In 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.”
           --Robert Hopkins, Philosophical Books


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."
            -- John Gray New Statesman

"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 public arena."
            -- Glenn C. Altschuler, Jerusalem Post

"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."
            -- Library Journal

""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."
            -- Harvard Law Review

"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."
            --Christopher L. Eisgruber, Princeton University

"This is a provocative and bracing essay, one that is bound to stimulate much discussion."
            --Richard Kraut, Northwestern University

"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."
            --Timothy Macklem, King's College London

"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."
            --Micah J. Schwartzman, University of Virginia

Image of the book's cover
Reviews of Leiter, Naturalizing Jurisprudence: Essays on American Legal Realism and Naturalism in Legal Philosophy (Oxford, 2007)

“Brian Leiter 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.”
           --Robin Kar, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2009).

“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.”
            --Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco, Mind (2008)

“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.”
            --Torben Spaak, Theoria (2008)

“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 precise.  Naturalizing Jurisprudence deserves to be read widely and commended warmly.”
           --Matthew Kramer, Criminal Law and Philosophy 3 (2009).

Edited Books

Nietzsche
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)
The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy The Future for Philosophy Nietzsche's Daybreak
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)
Oxford Sutdies in the Philosophy of Law Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law, Volume 2  
Leslie Green & Brian Leiter (eds.), Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law, Volume 1 (Oxford University Press, 2011)
Leslie Green & Brian Leiter, Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law, Volume 2 (Oxford University Press, 2013)