Professor of Law
Alec Walen
Rutgers Law School
217 N 5th St
Camden, NJ 08102

Alec Walen has taught courses in criminal law, counterterrorism law, the philosophy of rights, and the philosophy of criminal law. He holds a joint appointment in the School of Law, and the Philosophy Department and the Program in Criminal Justice at Rutgers-New Brunswick. His recent work focuses on the philosophical foundations of moral rights and the criminal law.

  • Biography
  • Publications
  • Courses Taught
  • Expertise

Professor Walen holds a joint appointment in the School of Law, the Philosophy Department (New Brunswick), and the Program in Criminal Justice (New Brunswick). He is serving as Director of the Program in Criminal Justice from 2019-2022.

He earned a B.A. at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1987, a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh in 1993, and a J.D. from Harvard in 1998. After law school, he clerked for District Court Judge Nancy Gertner (1998-99), and worked as an associate for the D.C. office of what was then Mayer, Brown and Platt (1999-2000), before entering the academic track in 2000.

His academic work focuses on the philosophical foundations of moral rights, with applications in criminal law, constitutional law, national security law, bioethics, and more. He has written 38 substantial articles, published in peer review journals, books, or law reviews, as well as numerous shorter pieces and encyclopedia entries. His first book, The Mechanics of Claims and Permissible Killing in War, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. He also serves as an associate editor at Law and Philosophy.



  • The Mechanics of Claims and Permissible Killing in War (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • Detention in a Liberal State (under contract, Oxford University Press).


  • “Risks and Weak Aggregation: Why Different Models of Risk Suit Different Types Cases,” in Ethics (forthcoming).
  • "Causation and Responsibility for Outcomes," in Core Concepts in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Vol. 2 (Ambos, ed., forthcoming).
  • "Using, Risking, and Consent: Why Risking Harm to Bystanders is Morally Different from Risking Harm to Research Subjects," Bioethics (forthcoming).
  • "Targeted Killing and the Criminal Law," in L. Alexander and K. Ferzan, eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Applied Ethics and the Criminal Law
    (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019): 753-771.
  • "The Right to Cause Harm as an Alternative to Being Sacrificed for Others; An Exploration of Agent-Rights with a Special Focus on Intervening Agency," San Diego Law Review 55 (2018): 381-417.
  • "Eliminative Killing and the Targeting of Noncombatants; Comments on Seth Lazar’s Sparing Civilians," Law and Philosophy 37 (2018): 313-325.
  • "The Restricting Claims Principle Revisited," Law and Philosophy 35 (2016): 211-247.
  • "The Use and Abuse of Definitions in Constitutional Law; A Critique of Justice Roberts’s Dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges," Vienna Journal on International Constitutional Law 9 (2016): 581-585.
  • "Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt; A Balanced Retributive Account," Louisiana Law Review 76 (2015): 355-446.
  • "Constitutional Rights for Nonresident Aliens; A Doctrinal and Normative Argument," Drexel Law Review 8 (2015): 53-112.
  • "Fourth Amendment Rights for Nonresident Aliens," The German Law Journal 16 (2015):1131-1162.
  • "Transcending the Means Principle," Law and Philosophy 33 (2014): 427-464.
  • "Human Dignity and Proportionality: Deontic Pluralism in Balancing," in Huscroft, Miller and Webber (eds.) Proportionality and the Rule of Law: Rights, Justification, Reasoning (Cambridge University Press, 2014): 67-89 (with Mattias Kumm).
  • "Justice," in Gregory Claeys (ed.) Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought (Sage Press, 2013): 463-466.
  • "Comment on Slobogin," in Michael Corrado (ed.) Preventing Danger: New Paradigms in Criminal Justice 161 (Carolina Press, 2013): 161-166.
  • "Reflections on Theorizing About the Moral Foundations of the Law: Using the Laws Governing Detention as a Case Study," in S. Vöneky et al (eds.) Ethics and Law--The Ethicalization of Law (Springer Press, 2013): 103-126.
  • "Wrongdoing Without Motives: Why Tadros is Wrong About Wrongdoing and Motivation, Law and Philosophy," Law and Philosophy 32 (2013): 217-240.
  • "Agents, Impartiality, and the Priority of Claims over Duties; Diagnosing Why Thomson Still Gets the Trolley Problem Wrong by Appeal to the “Mechanics of Claims," Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2012): 545-571 (with David Wasserman).
  • "Potholes on the Path to Purity: Gideon Yaffe's Overly Ambitious Attempt to Account for Criminal Attempts,"Criminal Law and Philosophy 6 (2012): 383-386.
  • "A Punitive Precondition for Preventive Detention: Lost Status as an Element of a Just Punishment,"San Diego Law Review 63 (2011):1229-1272.
  • "Transcending, but not Abandoning, the Combatant-Civilian Distinction: A Case Study," Rutgers Law Review 63 (2011):1149-1168. 
  • "Criminalizing Statements of Terrorist Intent: How to Understand the Law Governing Terrorist Threats, and Why It Should be Used Instead of Long-Term Preventive Detention," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 101 (2011): 803-854.
  • "A Unified Theory of Detention, with Application to Preventive Detention for Suspected Terrorists,"Maryland Law Review 70 (2011): 871-938.
  • "Crime, Culpability and Moral Luck; Comment on Alexander, Ferzan and Morse,"Law and Philosophy 29 (2010): 373-384.
  • "Constitutional Rights for Nonresident Aliens," Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 29 (Summer/Fall 2009): 2-6.
  • "Judicial Review in Review: A Four-Part Defense of Legal Constitutionalism. A Review Essay on Political Constitutionalism, by Richard Bellamy," International Journal of Constitutional Law 7 (2009):329-354.
  • "Comments on Doug Husak: The Low Cost of Recognizing (and of Ignoring) the Limited Relevance of Intentions to Permissibility," Criminal Law and Philosophy 3 (2009): 71-78. 
  • "Crossing a Moral Line: Long-Term Preventive Detention in the War on Terror," Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 28 (Summer/Fall 2008): 15-21.
  • "Detention in the “War on Terror”: Constitutional Interpretation Informed by the Law of War," ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law 14 (2008): 45-97 (with Ingo Venzke).
  • "Unconstitutional Detention of Nonresident Aliens: Revisiting the Supreme Court’s Treatment of the Law of War in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld," Heidelberg Journal of International Law 67 (2007): 843-885 (with Ingo Venzke).
  • "The Doctrine of Illicit Intentions," Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (2006): 39-67.
  • "The Constitutionality of States Extending Personhood to the Unborn," Constitutional Commentary 22 (2005):161-179.
  • "Permissibly Encouraging the Impermissible," Journal of Value Inquiry 38 (2004):341-354.
  • "Chastened Ambitions: Mark Tushnet’s The New Constitutional Order," International Journal of Constitutional Law 2 (2004):195-205. 
  • "Criticizing the Obligatory Acts of Lawyers: A Response to Markovits’s Legal Ethics from the Lawyer’s Point of View," Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 16 (2004):1-43.
  • "Reasonable Illegal Force: Justice and Legitimacy in a Pluralistic, Liberal Society," Ethics 111 (2001):344-373.
  • "The Significance of Rawls's Law of Peoples; A Response to Lea Brilmayer," International Legal Theory 6 (2000):51-57. 
  • "Consensual Sex Without Assuming the Risk of Carrying an Unwanted Fetus; Another Foundation for the Right to an Abortion," Brooklyn Law Review 63 (1997): 1051-1140.
  • "The ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and Authoritarian Morality,"The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 5 (1997): 619-642.
  • "Doing, Allowing, and Disabling: Some Principles Governing Deontological Restrictions," Philosophical Studies 80 (1995): 183-215.
Courses Taught
  • Criminal Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • National Security Law
  • Philosophy (Law &)
  • Terrorism (International)