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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School
(023) 8059 1816

Dr Alice Harrison PhD Law; LLM International Business Law; PG Diploma in Law ; PG Diploma in Legal Practice ; BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

Teaching Fellow

Dr Alice Harrison's photo

Alice Harrison challenges conventional wisdom that sovereign dignity founds the law; suggesting that sovereign dignity is but a temporary incident of dignity, defined as ‘societally valued worthiness in being’, that grounds a locus where human beings can carefully, coercively and cooperatively determine how to be.

I returned to full-time study in 1998 after twenty in the commercial/industrial world. Experience of the world, through work and travel, led me to consider protection of the environment by way of Law.

From histories of colonisation, including cultural and human genocide; and the presumption of infinite resources leading to unlimited environmental exploitation and destruction, human beings are learning there is another, better, way to be.

The future of this better world, including the human artifice of the commercial world, is dependent on the human ability to develop in an environmentally sustainable and humanitarianly sensitive way.

Research interests

My PhD thesis considered whether human dignity could be meaningfully applied in or to law. I reasoned that the increasingly pervasive, commonly identifiable, post-World War idea of human dignity, revealed more than two millennia of historically consistent use of the word dignity; defined as ‘societally valued worthiness in being’.

This led to the suggestion that human dignity offered a more empathetic and inclusive platform to reconcile societal difference than existing models of governance premised on sovereign dignity. Many existing governments cling to Western philosophic ideals of sovereign or parliamentary dignity; in the UK manifest in conservative maintenance and liberal freewill, which encourage human beings to pursue their own self-interest and often prove oblivious to the human and environmental expense of their selfishness. Yet the resultant impoverishment continually returns to haunt subsequent generations of those people and governments, who feel or are held to account for environmental and humanitarian degradation.

I suggest human dignity, applied through law, affords careful consideration that requires pursuers of self-interest to pre-consider the consequence and justify the societal worthiness of their actions, if necessary educating a wider, legally restricting, society of the desirous nature of their act. Looking at modern examples of ethics in technical innovation and the legacy of colonisation I am considering how human dignity works in different social institutions: commerce, government and the third sector; and in the inner moralities that determine how human beings decide to be.

Module Co-ordinator for:

  • Commercial Law MANG1014;
  • Company Law MANG2017; &
  • Industrial Law LAWS3130.

I am the lecturer for Company Law MANG2017, Commercial Law MANG1014 and Industrial Law LAWS3130. I am also coordinator for these courses. In addition I tutor in Contract Law LAWS1015 and Constitutional and Administrative Law LAWS1013.

Dr Alice Harrison
Southampton Law School, Building 4 University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ UK

Room Number: 4/4029

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