Paul Billingham

Paul Billingham

(MA, MPhil, DPhil)

Associate Professor of Political Theory and Fellow and Tutor in Politics, Magdalen College
Political Theory
01865 276 015
Magdalen College
Office Address:
Magdalen College, Oxford, OX1 4AU

Curriculum vitae: Download Paul Billingham Cv June 2019 (101.7KB)

Most of my research has been on debates concerning public justification and public reason: what kinds of reasons of values should be used to justify political institutions and laws, in the face of our many moral, philosophical, and religious disagreements? I have explored competing accounts of public justification and examined the implications of theories of public reason for religious citizens, and the compatibility of the view with Christianity, in particular. This has included interacting with the work of theologians.

My current work considers how the liberal state ought to respond to citizens - and especially religious groups - whose beliefs and practices do not seem to cohere with liberal values. Should the state actively confront, and seek to transform, the views of such citizens? On the other hand, should the law protect the autonomy of religious groups, including by granting them exemptions, even when this allows them to engage in illiberal practices?

Finally, I am also writing on the use of the Internet, particularly social media, to criticise (perceived or actual) moral failures and misdemeanours. Under what conditions can this so-called 'online public shaming' be justified? And what are the responsibilities of the state, social media organisations, and the public, in response to cases of unjustified or disproportionate shaming?

More information about all of these research projects is available on my website.

Political Theory Liberalism Religion

Undergradaute: Introduction to the Theory of Politics (first year paper); Theory of Politics (core finals paper); Advanced Theories of Justice (finals paper).

Graduate: Contemporary Theories of Liberalism: Perfectionism and Anti-perfectionism (second year MPhil option).

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • ‘Shaping Religion: The Limits of Transformative Liberalism’, in Jonathan Seglow and Andrew Shorten (eds.), Religion and Political Theory: Secularism, Accommodation and The New Challenges of Religious Diversity (Rowman & Littlefield International / ECPR press, forthcoming).
  • ‘Law, Religion, and Public Reason’, in Russell Sandberg, Norman Doe, Bronach Kane, and Caroline Roberts (eds.), The Research Handbook on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Law and Religion (forthcoming, 2019). (Co-authored with Jonathan Chaplin.)
  • ‘Exemptions for Religious Groups and the Problem of Internal Dissent’, in John Adenitire (ed.), Religious Beliefs and Conscientious Exemptions in a Liberal State (Hart Publishing, 2019), pp. 51-69.

Book Reviews


Downloadable versions of most of these papers are available on my website.