Michael S. Moore

Walgreen Chair
Co-Director, Program in Law and Philosophy


One of the country’s most prominent authorities on the intersection of law and philosophy, and widely regarded as the country’s leading theoretician of the criminal law, Professor Moore joined the faculty in 2002 as the Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Chair, the first and only university-wide chair for the University of Illinois’ three campuses. He is jointly appointed as professor of law in the College of Law, professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and as a professor with the Center for Advanced Studies, an honor bestowed on faculty on the basis of their outstanding scholarship and among the highest forms of campus recognition. 

Before coming to Illinois, Professor Moore served as the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law and as co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Law and Philosophy at the University of San Diego. From 1989-2000, he was the Leon Meltzer Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he co-founded and directed the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Law and Philosophy.

Over the course of his career, he also has been a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California (where he held the Robert Kingsley Chair), and the University of Kansas. In addition, he has been the William Minor Lile Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, the Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor at the Yale Law School, The Mason Ladd Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa Schools of Law and of Medicine, as well as a visiting professor at Stanford University, Northwestern University, Tel Aviv University in Israel, di Tella University in Buenos Aires, Hue University in Viet Nam, and the Universität Erlangen in Germany.

He has held a number of fellowships and visiting scholar positions, including two in the Law and Humanities Program of Harvard University, six at the Australian National University’s Research School of Social Sciences in Canberra, Australia, and one each at the Humanities Research Institute of the University of California at Irvine, the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy, the Georgetown University Law Center, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Neuroscience and Society, and the Yale Law School.

Over an academic career spanning more than 50 years Moore has published more than 150 books, articles, editorials, and other pieces of scholarship, documented recently in a festschrift published in his honor, K. Ferzan and S. Morse, eds., Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Truth: The Philosophy of Michael S. Moore (Oxford University Press, 2016). He is the author of Placing Blame: A General Theory of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 1997), widely regarded as the leading modern statement of the retributivist theory of the criminal law. In an earlier book, Act and Crime: The Philosophy of Action and its Implications for Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 1993), Moore provided a unified theory of action that underlies English and American criminal jurisprudence. In a later book, Causation and Responsibility: An Essay in Law, Morals, and Metaphysics (Oxford University Press, 2009), Moore explored the nature of causation and its relation to both moral and legal responsibility. Earlier in his career, he authored Law and Psychiatry: Rethinking the Relationship (Cambridge University Press, 1984), which explored the tension that often exists between legal and psychiatric theories. His latest book, Mechanical Choices: The Responsibility of the Human Machine (Oxford University Press, 2020), returned to these same issues, this time as they are raised by contemporary neuroscience rather than by dynamic psychiatry.

Professor Moore has presented hundreds of lectures and papers around the world in law, jurisprudence, political theory, legal philosophy, political science, economics, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience, including most recently endowed, named lectures at Duke, Dartmouth, Columbia, Tel Aviv, Pennsylvania universities, as well as the annual Public Philosophy Lecture and the annual Center for Advanced Studies Lecture at the University of Illinois. He is on the board of editors of numerous journals in law and in philosophy and for a decade served as editor-in-chief of the journal, Law and Philosophy.

He regularly rotates his law teaching between first-year courses of criminal law, torts, contracts, property, and constitutional law, and upper-year courses in jurisprudence and legal philosophy. As a member of the Philosophy Department faculty at Illinois he also has taught undergraduate courses in the philosophy of law and political philosophy and graduate seminars in neuroscience, ethics, the theory of action, and the metaphysics of causation.

View Professor Moore’s abbreviated curriculum vitae.


JD, SJD Harvard University
AB University of Oregon

Areas of Expertise

Constitutional Law
Criminal Law


Constitutional Law I
Criminal Law
Ethics and Public Policy
Law, Philosophy, & Neuroscience
Philosophy of Law and of the State
Philosophy of Law

Selected Publications


Mechanical Brains and Responsible Choices: The Challenges to Responsible Personhood of Contemporary Neuroscience, in preparation.

New Essays in Criminal Law Theory (with Heidi Hurd), a collection of previously uncollected joint or single-authored essays; proposal to Oxford University Press.

Causation and Responsibility: An Essay in Law, Morals, and Metaphysics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Objectivity in Law and Ethics: Essays in Moral and Legal Ontology, Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., and Rutland, VT.: Dartmouth Press, 2004. Educating Oneself in Public: Critical Essays in Jurisprudence, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Articles and Essays

“Untying the Gordian Knot of Mens Rea Requirements for Accomplices,” with Heidi Hurd, Social Philosophy and Policy, Vol. 32 (2016), pp. 161-183.

“The Neuroscience of Volitional Excuse,” in Dennis Patterson, ed., Philosophical Foundations of Law and Neuroscience (Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 179-230.

“Stephen Morse on the Fundamental Psycho-Legal Error,” electronically published by Springer on-Line (Feb. 2014), printed in hard copy in Criminal Law and Philosophy, Vol. 10 (2016), pp. 45-89.

“The Quest for a Responsible Responsibility Test: Norwegian Insanity Law After Breivik,” electronically published by Springer on-line (March, 2014), printed in hard copy in Criminal Law and Philosophy, Vol. 9 (2015), pp. 645-693. “

Compatibilism(s) for Neuroscientists,” in Enrique Villaneuva, ed., Law and the Philosophy of Action (The Netherlands: Rodopi Philosophical Studies, 2014), pp. 1-59.

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