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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, 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 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.


Mihal, J., & Black, C. F. (2023). Past the Promethean perspective: Protocols, permission, power. Law Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia Conference: Deus ex machina: Law, technology, humanities. (pp. 72). Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Clover Alcolea, L., & Mihal, J. (2023, December). The tiptoe to crypto: An analysis and account of property rights in cryptocurrency [Invited]. Verbal presentation at the Private and Commercial Law Annual Conference, Perth, Australia. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Mihal, J. (2023, July). (When) can we be wrong about what law is? Verbal presentation at the Australasian Society of Legal Philosophy (ASLP) Annual Conference, Auckland, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Mihal, J. (2023, July). No-one is an island: A third person for a public, pluralist jurisprudence. Verbal presentation at the ICON·S Conference: Islands and Ocean: Public Law in a Plural World, Wellington, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Mihal, J. (2023). [Review of the book The Cambridge companion to legal positivism]. Jurisprudence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/20403313.2023.2205798 Journal - Research Other

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