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Institution: Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge

Period of stay: 1 March 2019 - June 2023










Mark Retter is a postdoctoral researcher with an independent grant to pursue inter-disciplinary research on the role of human rights in modernity, under processes of secularisation; and on ethical foundations to international legal order. Prior to this he worked as a Research Associate on the Legal Tools for Peace-Making Project at the Lauterpacht Centre; and he completed his doctoral studies, as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, at the University of Cambridge. 

Dr Retter supervises undergraduate students in Jurisprudence and Public International Law at the University of Cambridge, and assists with the operation and development of the Language of Peace database:

Research Area:

Philosophy of human rights; history and philosophy of international law; natural law philosophy; conflict settlement

Research Title:

Human Rights After Virtue

Research Outline:

The monograph, Human Rights After Virtue, will examine the grounds for Alasdair MacIntyre’s human rights scepticism and its relevance for the philosophy and law of human rights. MacIntyre is renowned for the scepticism of human rights expressed in After Virtue, and again in Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity. This monograph will claim that a deeper, partly critical engagement with MacIntyre’s thought reveals a persuasive natural law understanding of human rights. A significant benefit to this understanding is that it takes seriously the development of moral knowledge of universal human rights from within the particular conditions of diverse communities and traditions, across history. That allows the monograph to tackle some fundamental questions that plague human rights theory, concerning, for example, how to conceive of the ‘universality’ of human rights, and its relationship to diverse particulars, across political communities, moral traditions, and human history.

In tandem with the monograph, Dr Retter will co-edit (with Tom Angier and Iain Benson) The Handbook of Natural Law and Human Rights. This handbook brings together scholarship from a diverse range of natural law thinkers to address the philosophical foundations of human rights and the significance of natural law for contemporary debates on human rights.


Journal Articles

  • Mark Retter, ‘The Road Not Taken: On MacIntyre’s Human Rights Scepticism’ (forthcoming 2019) American Journal of Jurisprudence (advanced version published online)
  • Mark Retter, ‘Internal Goods to Legal Practice: Reclaiming Fuller with MacIntyre’ (2015) 4:1 UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 1
  • Mark Retter, ‘Jus Cogens: Towards an International Common Good?’ (2011) 2:4 Transnational Legal Theory 537

Edited Volumes

  • Marc Weller, Mark Retter and Andrea Varga (eds.), International Law and Peace Settlements (CUP, forthcoming 2020)

Chapters in Edited Volumes

  • Mark Retter, ‘Before and After Legal Positivity: Peremptory Norms in Global, Transnational and National Legal Practice’ in Luca Siliquini-Cinelli (ed.), Legal Positivism in a Global and Transnational Age (Springer, forthcoming 2019)
  • Mark Retter, ‘Post-Conflict Finance and International Law’ in Marc Weller, Mark Retter, Andrea Varga (eds.), International Law and Peace Settlements (CUP, forthcoming 2020)
  • Mark Retter and Jake Rylatt, ‘Negotiating the International Legal Fate of Detainees’ in Marc Weller, Mark Retter, and Andrea Varga (eds.), International Law and Peace Settlements (CUP, forthcoming 2020)

Book Reviews

  • Mark Retter, ‘The UK and European Human Rights’ (Book Review) (2016) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law 153
  • Mark Retter, ‘Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights’ (Book Review) (2016) 75:1 Cambridge Law Journal 158


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