David Brink

I am a Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of California, San Diego, a Director of the Institute for Law and Philosophy at the University of San Diego School of Law, and an Editor of the journal Legal Theory.

Research Interests

  • Ethical theory
  • History of ethics
  • Moral psychology
  • Jurisprudence

My work in ethics focuses on foundational issues about objectivity and normativity; practical reason, the good, and the nature of moral demands; and rights and justice. My approach blends historical concern with the views of important figures and traditions in the history of ethics and systematic concern with the clearest and most plausible formulations of first principles. My work in jurisprudence focuses on traditional issues in analytical jurisprudence about the nature of law, legal interpretation, and determinacy in the law; issues in constitutional jurisprudence about interpretation, individual rights, and judicial review; and issues in criminal jurisprudence about responsibility and excuse.


  • Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
  • Perfectionism and the Common Good: Themes in the Philosophy of T.H. Green (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2003)
  • Mill's Progressive Principles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2013)

Current Focus

I am working on several article-length projects in the history of ethics, ethical theory, moral psychology, and jurisprudence (see Work in Progress).  In addition, I am working on two larger projects.  Fairness, Responsibility, and Excuse articulates and defends a fair opportunity conception of moral and criminal responsibility and applies it to issues of partial responsibility involving insanity and psychopathy, immaturity, addiction, provocation, and duress.  Self & Others is a long-term project that provides an historically informed discussion of issues about practical reason, personal identity, and the good; the demands of morality, especially the relation between partial and impartial demands; and the normativity of ethics.