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James W. Nickel                                                            nickeljames@gmail.com

Professor of Philosophy and Law / University of Miami / P.O. Box 248 087 / Coral Gables, FL 33124 / USA


B.A. (highest honors), Tabor College, Hillsboro, KS 1964.

Ph.D., University of Kansas, Lawrence, 1968. Dissertation: Cognitive and Noncognitive Meaning (honors).

Postdoctoral study and research, Columbia University Law School, 1973-74, 1977-78.

Academic Positions

Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Miami, 2009 on.

Visiting Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, 2008-09.

Professor of Law, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, 2003-08.

Professor of Philosophy, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1982-2002.

Chair, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado, 1992-1996.

Director, Center for Values and Social Policy, University of Colorado, 1982-86.

Visiting Professor of Philosophy, University of Utah, spring 1988.

Visiting Professor, UC Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall), 1980-82.

Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor of Philosophy, Wichita State University 1968-80.

Fellowships and Awards

2004--Essay Prize, The Philosophical Quarterly (see article 49 below)

2004--Visiting Fellow, Corpus Christi College, Oxford (fall term)

1996-97--University of Colorado Faculty Fellowship (full year, full pay sabbatical)

1988-89--University of Colorado Faculty Fellowship (spent in Brazil)

1981--Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship (spent at UC Berkeley Law School)

1978-79--National Humanities Center Fellowship (spent in North Carolina)

1978--Mellon Summer Fellowship, Aspen Institute

1976-77--American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship  (spent at Columbia Law School)

1973-74--National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship (spent at Columbia Law School).


Making Sense of Human Rights, University of California Press, 1987, 250 pages.  Translated into Indonesian and published as Hak Asasi Manusia, Jakarta: Gramedia, 1996.

Making Sense of Human Rights, Second Edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2006, 263 pages (heavily revised; more than half of the material is new).  Published in Korean (Myung In Publishers, 2010).  Chapter 7, "Due Process Rights and Terrorist Emergencies," will soon be reprinted in May and Morrow, eds., Procedural Justice (Ashgate 2012).

Essays (click to access underlined items

1.     "Stearns on Naturalism," Journal of Value Inquiry 3 (1969), 43-45

2.     "Hare's Arguments from Linguistic Change," Ethics 79 (1969), 298-302.

3.     "Urmson on Evaluation from a Point of View," Mind 81 (1972), 571-575.

4.     "Discrimination and Morally Relevant Characteristics," Analysis 32 (1972), 113-114. Reprinted in Gross, ed., Reverse Discrimination (1976), and in Cahn, ed., The Affirmative Action Debate (1995).

5.     "Functional Evaluations," Philosophical Studies 24 (1973), 57-61.

6.     "Classification by Race in Compensatory Programs," Ethics 84 (1974), 146-150. Reprinted in Kipnis, ed., Philosophical Issues in Law (1976) and Donaldson and Werhane, eds., Ethical Issues in Business. Also reprinted in Donaldson and Dunfee, eds., Ethics in Business and Economics, vol II (1996).

7.     "On Banishing Ethics from our Minds (Discussion of Anscombe)," Journal of Value Inquiry 8 (1974), 204-214.

8.     "Should Reparations be to Individuals or to Groups?", Analysis 34 (1974), 154-60. Reprinted in Gross, ed., Reverse Discrimination (1976), and in Cahn, ed., The Affirmative Action Debate (1995).

9.     "Sparshott on Relevance," Dialogue 12 (1973), 325-329.

10.    "Preferential Policies in Hiring and Admissions," Columbia Law Review 75 (1975), 534-558. Reprinted in Gross, ed., Reverse Discrimination (1976), Wasserstrom, ed., Today's Moral Problems (2nd edition, 1979), and in Valsquez and Rostenkowski, Ethics: Theory and Practice (1985).

11.     "Justice in Compensation," William and Mary Law Review 18 (1976), 379-388. Reprinted in Dale A. Nance, ed., Law and Justice (first edition 1994, second edition 1999).

12.     "Dworkin on the Nature and Consequences of Rights," Georgia Law Review 11 (1977), 1115-1142.

13.     "Does the Constitution Mean What it Always Meant?" (with Stephen R. Munzer), Columbia Law Review 77 (1977), 1029-1062. Reprinted in Larry May, et. al., eds., Legal Philosophy: Multiple Perspectives (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 2000): 440-450.

14.     "Remedial Uses of Race: A Moral Dilemma," Howard Law Journal 21 (1978), 513-517.

15.     "Is There a Human Right to Employment?", Philosophical Forum 11 (1980), 149-170. Reprinted in Werhane, et. al., eds, Philosophical Issues in Human Rights (1986).

16.     "Recent Work on the Concept of Rights" (with Rex Martin), American Philosophical Quarterly 17 (1980), 165-180. Reprinted in Lucey and Machan, eds., Recent Work in Philosophy (1983).

17.     "Cultural Diversity and Human Rights," in Green and Nelson, eds., International Human Rights: Contemporary Issues (1980), 43- 55.

18.     "Human Rights and the Rights of Aliens," in Brown and Shue, eds., The Border that Joins (1982), 31-48.

19.     "Equal Respect and Human Rights," Human Rights Quarterly 4 (1982), 79-63.

20.     "Are Human Rights Utopian?", Philosophy and Public Affairs 11 (1982), 246-264. Reprinted in Making Ethical Decisions (1984).

21.     "On the Feasibility of Welfare Rights in Less Developed Countries," in Kipnis and Meyers, eds., Economic Justice (1985), 217-225.    

22.    "Charity, Family Aid, and Welfare Rights," Logos 6 (1985), 71-77.

23.     "Ethical Aspects of the Influx of Central American Refugees into the United States," in MacEoin, ed., Sanctuary (1985), 95- 108. Reprinted under the title, "Sanctuary, Asylum and Civil Disobedience," in Lydio F. Tomasi, ed., In Defense of the Alien (1986), 176-187. 

24.     "Uneasiness about Easy Cases (reply to Schauer)", University of Southern California Law Review 1985

25.     "Rationing Health Care," in Battin, et. al., eds, Should Medical Care be Rationed by Age?, (1986).

26.     "Should Undocumented Aliens be Entitled to Health Care?", Hastings Center Report, December 1986, 19-23.

27.     "Equal Opportunity in a Pluralistic Society," Social Philosophy and Policy 5 (1987), 104-119.

28.     "Philosophy and Policy," in Rosenthal and Shehadi, eds., Applied Ethics and Ethical Theory (1988), 139-148.

29.     "Freedom of Expression in a Pluralistic Society," Law and Philosophy 7 (1989), 281-293.

30.     "Do Professors Need Professional Ethics as Much as Doctors and Lawyers?", Papers of the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society 2 (1989), 3-28. Reprinted in Mary Ann Shea, ed., On Teaching, Volume II (1989).

31.     "Can Today's International System Handle Transboundary Environmental Problems?" (with Daniel Barstow Magraw), in Scherer, ed., Upstream-Downstream (Temple University Press, 1990), 121-157.

32.     "Does Basing Rights on Autonomy Imply Obligations of Political Allegiance?", Dialogue 28 (1989), 531-544.  

33.     "Rawls on Political Community and Principles of Justice," Law and Philosophy 9 (1990), 91-102.

34.     "Strong Affirmative Action," New Community 17 (1990): 49-58.

35.     "Human Rights," in Becker and Becker, eds., Encyclopedia of Ethics (First edition, Garland 1992; second edition Routledge 2001).  

36.     "How Human Rights Generate Duties to Protect and Provide," Human Rights Quarterly 14 (1993), 77-86. Reprinted in abridged form in Steiner and Alston, eds., International Human Rights in Context (2000): 185-186, and in the second edition (2007): 190-191.

37.     "The Human Right to a Safe Environment," Yale Journal of International Law 18:1 (1993), 281-295. Reprinted in Patrick Hayden, ed., The Philosophy of Human Rights (St. Paul: Paragon House, 2001): 601-618. Also reprinted in Dinah Shelton, ed., Human Rights and the Environment (2011).

38.     "Integrating Environmentalism and Human Rights" (with Eduardo Viola), Environmental Ethics 16 (1994): 265-271. Translated into Italian and published in M. Greco (ed.), Diritti umani e ambiente: Giustizia e sicurezza nella questione ecologica [Human Rights and the Environment:Justice and Security in the Ecological Question], Edizioni Cultura della Pace, Firenze, 2000.  Reprinted in Andrew Light and Holmes Rolston, eds., Environmental Ethics: An Anthology, Blackwells 2002.

39.     "Ethnocide and Indigenous Peoples," Journal of Social Philosophy 25 (1994): 84-98.

40.     "Ambientalismo e Direitos Humanos" (with Eduardo Viola), Novos Estudos 40 (Nov. 1994): 171-84. [This is a longer, Brazilian version of 38 above.]

41.     "Rethinking Rawls' Theory of Liberty and Rights," Chicago-Kent Law Review 69 (1994): 763-785.

42.     "The Value of Cultural Belonging: Expanding Kymlicka's Theory," Dialogue 33 (1994): 635-42.

43.      "What's Wrong with Ethnic Cleansing?" Journal of Social Philosophy 26 (1995): 5-15. Reprinted in Patrick Hayden, ed., The Philosophy of Human Rights (St. Paul: Paragon House, 2001): 465-477

44.     "A Human Rights Approach to World Hunger," in Aiken and LaFollette, editors, World Hunger and Morality, Second Edition, Prentice-Hall, 1995: 171-185.

45.     "The Claims of Immigrants: A Respose to Baubock and Parekh," International Migration Review 30 (1996): pp. 285-88. 

46.     "Group Agency and Group Rights," in Ian Shapiro and Will Kymlicka, eds., Ethnicity and Group Rights (Nomos XXXIX) New York: New York University Press, 1997: 235-256.

47.     "The Liberty Dimension of Historic and Contemporary Segregation," Law and Philosophy 16 (1997): 259-77. Reprinted in Gerald J. Postema, ed., Racism and the Law: The Legacy and Lessons of Plessy (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997): 39-57.

48.    "The right to work," in  Werhane and Freeman, eds., Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Business Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997),  563-4.

49.   "Why Basic Liberties Are Bilateral," Law and Philosophy 17 (1998): 627-634.

50.   "Economic Liberties" in Victoria Davion and Clark Wolf, eds., The Idea of Political Liberalism (Lanham, Md:  Rowman and Littlefield, 2000). 155-175.

51.   "Free Speech, Democratic Deliberation, and Valuing Types of Speech," in Chambers and Costain, eds., Deliberation, Democracy, and the Media (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000). 1-10.

52.   "Moral Dimensions of Four Ways of Getting Rid of Groups," in A. Jokic, ed., War Crimes and Collective Wrongdoing (Malden, MA: Blackwells, 2001). 163-175.

53.   "Freedom's Measure: An essay-review of Ian Carter's, A Measure of Freedom"  Law and Philosophy  20 (2001): 531-540.

54.   Is Today’s International Human Rights System a Global Governance Regime?”, The Journal of Ethics 6 (2003): 353-371.

55.    "Human Rights," Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2003/entries/rights-human/>  (first published 2003; revised 2006).

56.  "Poverty and Rights," Philosophical Quarterly, 55 (2005): 385-402.  This essay won the Philosophical Quarterly's 2004 essay prize.  It was reprinted in condensed form in Corpus Christi College Pelican Record LXII (2005): 89-98.  A long except from this article appeared in Henkin, Cleveland, Helfer, Neuman, and Orentlicher, eds. Human Rights (University Casebook Series, 2009).  And a revised version, "A Defense of Welfare Rights as Human Rights," appeared in Debates in Political Philosophy, eds. John Christman and Thomas Christiano (Blackwells, 2009).

57.   "Who Needs Freedom of Religion?", Colorado Law Review 76 (2005): 909-933.

58.  "Are Human Rights Mainly Implemented by Intervention?" in Rex Martin and David Reidy, eds. Rawls's Law of Peoples: A realistic utopia?  Blackwells 2006: 263-277.

59.   "Gould on Democracy and Human Rights" (review essay), Journal of Global Ethics 1 (2005): 1-7.

60.   "Relativism, Self-Determination and Human Rights" (with David Reidy) in Deen Chatterjee, ed., Democracy in a Global World: Human Rights and Political Participation in the 21st Century.  Rowman and Littlefield, 2007: 91-110.

61.  "Due Process Rights and Terrorist Emergencies", European Journal of Legal Studies (1: 2007).

62.  "Rethinking Indivisibility: Towards a Theory of Supporting Relations between Human Rights," Human Rights Quarterly 30 (2008): 984-1001.

63.  "Rights and the Exceptionally Vulnerable,"  in Genomics and Environmental Regulation: Science, Ethics and Law, ed. Richard R. Sharp, Gary E. Marchant, and Jamie A. Grodsky.  Baltimore, MD:Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.  

64.  "Philosophical Issues in International Environmental Law," (with Daniel McGraw), in Samantha Besson and John Tasioulas, eds., The Philosophy of International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010): 453-71.

65.  "The Philosophy of Human Rights," (with David Reidy) in Moeckli, Shah, Sivakumaran and Harris, eds., International Human Rights Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010): 39-63.

66.   "Indivisibility and Linkage Arguments: A Reply to Gilabert," Human Rights Quarterly 32.2 (2010): 439-446.


1. Boris Bittker's The Case for Black Reparations, Ethics 84 (1974), 180-184.

2. R. M. O'Neill's Discriminating against Discrimination, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 31, 1976.

3. Ronald Dworkin's Taking Rights Seriously (with Lea Brilmayer), Columbia Law Review 77 (1977), 818-826.

4. Kamenka and Tay, eds., Human Rights, California Law Review 69 (1981), 1569-1586.

5. Henry Shue's Basic Rights (with Lizbeth Hasse), California Law Review 69 (1981), 1569-1586.

6. Jon Kleinig's Paternalism, Law and Philosophy 4 (1985).

7. Robert Fullenwider, ed., Moral Foundations of Civil Rights, Ethics, 1988.

8. Kenneth Kipnis' Legal Ethics, Teaching Philosophy 1989.

9. Loren Lomasky's Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community, Mind, 1989.

10. J. Bruce Nichols' The Uneasy Alliance, International Migration Review 23 (1989), 333

11. Steven Luper-Foy, ed., Problems of International Justice, Teaching Philosophy 12:4 (1989).

12. Edith Brown Weiss's In Fairness to Future Generations, Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy (1990): 199-204.

13. Will Kymlicka's Liberalism, Community, and Culture, Canadian Philosophical Reviews 10 (1990):413-415.

14. George Sher's Desert, Ethics (1990).

15. Joseph Montville's Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, International Migration Review (1991).

16. Judith Thomson's The Realm of Rights, Philosophical Quarterly 12 (1992), 121-124.

17. Antonio Cassese's Human Rights in a Changing World, Ethics (1992).

18. Gerald MacCallum, Jr.'s Legislative Intent and Other Essays on Law, Politics, and Morality (Singer and Martin, eds.) Ethics 1995.

19. Will Kymlicka's Multicultural Citizenship, Journal of Philosophy XCIII (1996), 480-82.

20. Pluralism, Justice, and Equality, edited by David Miller and Michael Walzer, in Philosophical Review 106 (1997): 127-8.

21. Justice in Immigration, edited by Warren F. Schwartz, in Philosophy in Review 17 (October 1997), 370-71.

22. William F. Schultz's In Our Best Interest: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All, in Ethics and International Affairs 16 (2002): 155-7.

23. James Griffin's On Human Rights, Philosophical Review (forthcoming 2012).

Unpublished Work

"Three Dimensions of the Openness of Borders" (1998)

Work in progress

  • A book on support and conflict within a system of rights
  • "A Tiered View of the Weight of Human Rights?"
  • "Legal Human Rights as Right-Goal Hybrids"  
  • A paper on preventive detention

Editorial Board Memberships

 Courses taught

  • Seminar on Recent Work in Human Rights Theory (Miami)
  • International Economic and Social Rights (Georgetown University Law Center, Miami)
  • Philosophy of International Law (Georgetown University Law Center, with David Luban)
  • Environmental ethics (CU philosophy, with Dale Jamieson)
  • Ethical issues in scientific research (faculty seminar at CU)
  • Ethics and policy seminar (“Applied Ethics,” CU)
  • Law and morality (CU philosophy, ASU law, Miami philosophy)
  • Minority rights in international Law (ASU law)
  • Political philosophy and Contemporary Political Philosophy (CU philosophy, ASU philosophy)
  • Race and American law  (Berkeley JSP)
  • Rawls seminar--also seminars on Rawls and Raz and Rawls and Scanlon (CU philosophy)
  • Seminar on personal autonomy (CU philosophy, ASU philosophy)
  • Seminar on the human moral capacity (CU  philosophy)

Last updated: July 2011