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Pūkenga | Lecturer

Jan Mihal imagePhD, LLB (Hons), BA (Hons) (Melbourne)

Whakapātanga | Contact details


Whakaako | Teaching

LAWS 302 Jurisprudence

Jan has recently taught, across a number of institutions, jurisprudence, torts, human rights law, statutory interpretation, metaphysics, and narrative jurisprudence and myth as it relates to emerging technologies.

In 2022, he received an award recognising his excellence in teaching from James Cook University.

Rangahau | Research

Jan's research centres around general jurisprudence and the philosophy of law, seeking to answer the (big) question: “What is law?”

He is developing an original account of law's nature termed “etiological functionalism”. This theory holds that law's essence is the function it performs which accounts for its continued reproduction, existence, maintenance, use. This function – and, hence, law's nature – is to be discovered through empirical investigation (a fairly radical methodological step in legal theory). We should understand the nature of law by looking at causes and effects in the world, especially those related to how communities operate and why human beings continue to rely upon and participate in legal practices (both state and non-state practices).

His research draws upon multiple disciplines and schools of thought, exploring the intersection of jurisprudence, metaphysics, social ontology, social theory, and the philosophy of biology. Beyond jurisprudence and legal theory, his research experience and interests include ancient Asian philosophies, neuroscience in law, AI and Big Data, iterative self-improvement and virtue ethics, and the relationship between law, narrative, and myth.

Takenga | Background

Jan has a PhD from Melbourne Law School and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (majoring in Philosophy), also from the University of Melbourne. He has spent time as a visiting scholar at the Australian National University and has taught and undertaken research at the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2019-21, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the National University of Singapore. In 2021-22, he was a Lecturer at James Cook University.

Ngā puka rangahau me ngā whakaaturanga | Publications and presentations

Jan has published his research in leading international journals and has presented at a wide variety of conferences and workshops around the world, and has received awards for his research.

His most recent publication is 'Responding to the over-inclusiveness objection to Hart's theory of law: A causal approach' Jurisprudence (2021) 12, 175

His most recent presentation (2022) was on law and the value “L” in the Drake Equation (which is used to estimate the likelihood of extraterrestrial contact).


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