Lecturer in Jurisprudence

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  • Tel: +44 (0)131 650 9832
  • Email: Euan.Macdonald@ed.ac.uk
  • Office and Feedback Hours for current students:
    Thursday, 2 -3 pm

Courses Taught

Advanced Legal Writing (Honours) (Course Organiser)

Advanced Legal Writing (Online) (Honours) (Course Organiser)

Critical Legal Thinking (Ordinary) (Course Organiser)

Justice Ethics and Law (Honours) (Course Organiser)

PhD Supervisees

Richard Latta  'The relationship between International Law and Municipal Legal Systems : a positivistic account'

Ismael Martinez Torres  'A New Semantics for the Concept of Law: Making Sense of Theoretical Disagreement from a Positivist Standpoint'

Zhaoye Tan  'The Role of Consequentialist Arguments in Legal Decision-making'

Books and Reports

Euan MacDonald, International Law and Ethics after the Critical Challenge: Framing the Legal within the Post-Foundational, (Martinus Nijhoff, 2011)
Abstract: Around twenty years ago, a challenge was laid down to international law by those writing at the critical periphery of the discipline; a challenge that has yet to find satisfactory response. Although often (mistakenly) characterised as nihilist, this book seeks to recast it in positive terms; to pose the question of what – if anything – is left of international law and ethics if we accept both that apolitical rules are impossible and that the values that must – inevitably – be used to justify them are irreducibly, radically subjective. After detailed analyses of different political and international legal philosophers who have confronted this issue, the answer is located in a “turn to literature” and a rehabilitation of the ancient notion of rhetoric.


Euan MacDonald, 'Counterproductive constitutionalisation ', (2019), Icon-International journal of constitutional law, Vol 16, pp 1232-1241
Abstract: This article focuses on the tension between the “institutional” and “normative” dimensions of the constitutionalization of global governance institutions. It is commonly acknowledged that, under certain circumstances, developments that are plausibly “constitutional” from an institutional perspective might actually be counterproductive when viewed normatively; that is, they might lead to a decrease, rather than an increase, of the legitimacy of the governance institution in question. This article seeks to offer an account of why this might be the case. The article begins by setting out a definition of legitimacy, which takes as basic the notion of legitimate action, and then distinguishes between two quite distinct roles that consent can play in the legitimacy calculus. This definition then ties this back to constitutionalism in global governance, and sketches certain—necessarily somewhat speculatively—implications of this for the potential of “constitutionalism” to improve the legitimacy of global governance institutions.

Euan MacDonald, 'The unity of Global Administrative Law ', (2016), E-pública: Revista Eletrónica de Direito Público, Vol 3, pp 96-112
Abstract: In this article, I offer an account of the unity of the emerging Global Administrative Law. I do so by setting out an understanding – and justification– of each of the terms in the name, specifying the conditions under which GAL can plausibly be thought of as “global”, “administrative” and “legal” in nature.My central claim is that the key to unlocking these mysteries lies in the relation of GAL to the notion of legitimacy. My argument proceeds as follows. I begin by laying down the account of legitimacy that I rely on in the rest of the piece.I then outline a set of assumptions about GAL, and the implications of the account of legitimacy for those assumptions. This provides us with a statement of the conditions of possibility and success for a fully-emerged Global Administrative Law. I then sketch how framing the field in terms of its relation to legitimacy helps us to see how the use of each of the terms in the name was justified, by giving an account of the objects, nature and scope of GAL; and conclude with some reflections on what this might mean for its “unity” if and when it finally emerges.

Luis Duarte D'Almeida, Euan MacDonald, 'Denying the antecedent: The fallacy that never was, or sometimes isn't?', (2016), Informal Logic, Vol 36, pp 26-63
Abstract: In this paper we examine two challenges to the orthodox understanding of the fallacy of denying the antecedent. One challenge is to say that passages thought to express the fallacy can usually be given an interpretation on which they express valid arguments, entitling us to query whether the fallacy is commonly, if ever, committed at all. We discuss this claim in Section 1. The second challenge comes from those who think that there are legitimate uses of denying the antecedent that have traditionally been overlooked. In Section 2 we propose a general test for claims of this sort, and assess three versions of this view.


Euan MacDonald, 'Recasting the Relationship Human Rights, Democracy and Constitutionalism as Material Topoi of Legitimacy' in David Kinley, Wojciech Sadurski, Kevin Walton (ed.) Human Rights (Edward Elgar 2013) 170-200

Euan MacDonald, Eran Shamir-Borer, 'Meeting the Challenges of Global Governance Administrative and Constitutional Approaches' in Helene Ruiz Fabri, Rudiger Wolfrum, Jana Gogolin (ed.) Select Proceedings of the European Society of International Law (Hart Publishing 2010) 214-36

Euan MacDonald, Ryszard Cholewinski, 'The ICRMW and the European Union ' in Ryszard Cholewinski, Paul de Guchteneire, Antoine Pecoud (ed.) Migration and Human Rights (Cambridge University Press 2009) 360-92
Abstract: Conceived in the 1970s, drafted in the 1980s and opened for ratification in the 1990s, paraphrasing Pécoud and de Guchteneire (2006, p. 252), the ICRMW finally entered into force on 1 July 2003. Despite the fact that it is viewed by the OHCHR as one of the eight core international human rights treaties, to date it boasts only forty-one States Parties – by some distance the lowest ratification level of any instrument in this category currently in force. This lack of support for the Convention from the international community becomes even more striking on consideration of the fact that not one single major labour destination country has yet ratified it – even those that have otherwise exemplary records (on paper at least) of support for international and regional human rights instruments, especially the Member States of the EU.This chapter draws heavily on a report, commissioned by UNESCO and written by the present authors, which focuses on the reasons for non-ratification of the ICRMW, and the prospects for rectifying this, in seven countries of the European Economic Area (EEA): six EU Member States (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom) and Norway. To put things in perspective, all the above states have ratified the other seven core international human-rights treaties currently in force and are, of course, parties to the ECHR.

Working Papers

Euan MacDonald, 'The Rhetoric of Eunomia ' 2008
Abstract: This paper presents a detailed analysis of Philip Allott’s 1991 work Eunomia: New Order for a New World. It begins by briefly framing the work in terms of what is here referred to as 'the critical challenge' to international law, and suggests that one central goal of the text an attempted synthesis of the old opposition between philosophy and literature. It then sketches an outline of the manner in which his thesis is constructed – noting, in doing so, that despite the scope and complexity of the book, there is relatively little in the way of standard academic argument to be found therein. This leads on to the central focus of this paper: the manner in which Allott seeks to construct authority for the claims he makes and conclusions he reaches in the absence of such argumentation. To this end, the main bulk of the paper is concerned, in a manner influenced by theorists such as Chaïm Perelman and James Boyd White, with performing a critical analysis of the rhetorics of the work. It considers issues such as enacted dialectics; language; voice; metaphor; and technique; analysing each in turn for the way in which they function to bolster Allott’s otherwise nakedly – if eloquently – asserted claims. It concludes that, while the early promise of Eunomia is undoubtedly that of confronting the irreducible contradictions and aporia identified as inevitable in the critical challenge to international law, these themes are gradually worked out and ultimately usurped – in both the rhetorics and the surface meaning of the text – by those of transcendence, unity and systemic completion; the hallmarks of Allott’s mystification of society.