Amin Ebrahimi Afrouzi

He/They | Website

Doctorate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy

2014 Cohort

Summer 2022 Completion

Dissertation: "Why Act Legally"

Dissertation Committee: Christopher Kutz (Chair), Nicholos Kolodny, Joshua Cohen, Kinch Hoekstra

I have parallel interests in several areas. For information about my ongoing and past research, please visit

In my dissertation, I argue that the traditions which dominate legal philosophy since at least the Nuremberg trials, namely legal positivism and anti-positivism, raise more questions about our responsibilities under unjust laws than they answer. I then offer an alternative, arguing that legal obligations arise from the value of legally constituted social practices that are integral to human life. On my view, though intrinsic to law, these obligations are nonmoral and defeasible by countervailing moral obligations. This provides a new position in analytic jurisprudence that defends the common-sense view that one should generally follow the law but can never hide behind it to do something immoral.

I received my J.D. and B.A. (in Rhetoric) also from UC Berkeley. Before coming back to Berkeley for graduate studies, I received two master’s degrees, one in Classics from Cambridge and one in Philosophy from Oxford. 

In summer 2016, I was a full-time judicial extern (volunteer law clerk) to the Honorable Susan Illston at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco, CA. In summer 2017, I was a full-time judicial extern to the Honorable Tanya Chutkan at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

I held visiting studentships in law at Cambridge (2019-20) and in philosophy at Hamburg (2019, 2021), Köln (2021) and Regensburg (2019) universities. I will be a visiting student in philosophy at the University of Lausanne in summer 2022.

JD, MPhil (cantab), MSt (oxon)


Refereed Journals:

2022 "Why the Semantic Canons Don't Tip the Balance in Questions of Statutory Interpretation" Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (forthcoming)

2021 “Is Mohism really Utilitarianism?” Asian Philosophy, 31:4, 430-440 (with Yun Wu).

2020 “The Mohist Notion of Universal Justice,” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 19, 269–287 (with Yun Wu). 

2020 Review of Visa A.J. Kurki, A Theory of Legal Personhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019) in Modern Law Review 83:6.

2017 “Reflections on choosing an avenue of redress for discrimination at work in the United States,” Australian Journal of Labor Law 30:3, 275 (with David Oppenheimer).

Public Writing:

2019 “We should tell it like it is: A Black student was dragged by his ankle at the Oxford Union,” Varsity, November 22, 2019 (appeared in print and online).

2019 “Vagina-phobic monologues” The Stanford Daily, March 13, 2019 (appeared in print and online).

2018 “The Dawn of AI Philosophy” Blog of the American Philosophical Association, November 20, 2018 (appeared online).

2018 “Chau Was No Hero Either” Washington Post, December 7, 2018 (first appeared online, appeared in print on December 8, 2018).