Alec Walen


Contact Information

Law Office: 628
V: (856) 225-2658

Areas of Expertise

Courses Recently Taught


Professor Walen is currently a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at the Princeton University Center for Human Values. He has recently taught courses in criminal law, homeland security and counterterrorism law, the philosophy of rights, and constitutional law. He holds a joint appointment in the School of Law, Camden, and the Philosophy Department and the Program in Criminal Justice on the New Brunswick campus. Prior to joining the faculty at Rutgers, he was a research scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He has also taught at the University of Heidelberg (Germany), Aachen University (Germany), the University of Baltimore, Harvard University, and Lafayette College.

Professor Walen earned his B.A. summa cum laude at the University of Maryand, College Park, in 1987. He then won a National Melon Fellowship in the Humanities, and earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. He earned his J.D. from Harvard in 1998. He was a fellow at the Center for Ethics and the Professions at Harvard University from 1996-97. He clerked for District Court Judge Nancy Gertner (1998-99), and worked for the D.C. office of what was then known at the law firm Mayer, Brown and Platt (1999-2000).

His academic work has ranged over topics in moral philosophy, criminal law, constitutional law, and national security law. His current projects can be grouped under two headings: (1) a liberal account of when detention is justifiable, and (2) an examination of rights, intentions and permissibility. Both of these are book projects. The first is now under contract at Oxford University Press, under the title: "Detention in a Liberal State."



  • "Fourth Amendment Rights for Nonresident Aliens," The German Law Journal (forthcoming).
  • "Transcending the Means Principle, Law and Philosophy (2014) 33 Law and Philosophy 427.
  • "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) (with Mattias Kumm): 67-89.
  • "Justice," in Gregory Claeys (ed.) Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought (Sage Press, 2013): 463-466.
  • Book Review of Andrew Ashworth et al (eds.) Prevention and the Limits of the Criminal Law (Oxford University Press, 2013), posted on Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books, September 2013,
  • "Comment on Slobogin," in Michael Corrado (ed.) Preventing Danger: New Paradigms in Criminal Justice 161 (Carolina Press, 2013).
  • "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 103 (Springer Press, 2013).
  • "Wrongdoing Without Motives: Why Tadros is Wrong About Wrongdoing and Motivation, Law and Philosophy," (2013) 32 Law and Philosophy 217.
  • "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," (2012) 9 Journal of Moral Philosophy 545.
  • "Potholes on the Path to Purity: Gideon Yaffe's Overly Ambitious Attempt to Account for Criminal Attempts," (2012) 6 Criminal Law and Philosophy 383.
  • Book Review of Victor Tadros’s The Ends of Harm (Oxford University Press, 2011), posted on Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books, May 2012,
  • "A Punitive Precondition for Preventive Detention: Lost Status as an Element of a Just Punishment," (2011) 63 San Diego Law Review 1229.
  • "Transcending, but not Abandoning, the Combatant-Civilian Distinction: A Case Study," (2011) 63 Rutgers Law Review 1149. 
  • "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," (2011) 101 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 803.
  • "A Unified Theory of Detention, with Application to Preventive Detention for Suspected Terrorists," (2011) 70 Maryland Law Review 871.
  • "Crime, Culpability and Moral Luck; Comment on Alexander, Ferzan and Morse," (2010) 29 Law and Philosophy 373.
  • "Constitutional Rights for Nonresident Aliens," (Summer/Fall 2009) 29 Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 2.
  • "Judicial Review in Review: A Four-Part Defense of Legal Constitutionalism. A Review Essay on Political Constitutionalismby Richard Bellamy," (2009) 7 International Journal of Constitutional Law 329.
  • "Comments on Doug Husak: The Low Cost of Recognizing (and of Ignoring) the Limited Relevance of Intentions to Permissibility," (2009) 3 Criminal Law and Philosophy 71. 
  • "Crossing a Moral Line: Long-Term Preventive Detention in the War on Terror," (Summer/Fall 2008) 28 Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly 15.
  • "Detention in the “War on Terror”: Constitutional Interpretation Informed by the Law of War," (2008) 14 ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law 45 (with Ingo Venzke).
  • "Unconstitutional Detention of Nonresident Aliens: Revisiting the Supreme Court’s Treatment of the Law of War in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld," (2007) 67 Heidelberg Journal of International Law 843 (with Ingo Venzke).
  • "The Doctrine of Illicit Intentions," (2006) 34 Philosophy and Public Affairs 39.
  • "The Constitutionality of States Extending Personhood to the Unborn," (2005) 22 Constitutional Commentary 161.
  • "Permissibly Encouraging the Impermissible," (2004) 38 Journal of Value Inquiry 341.
  • "Chastened Ambitions: Mark Tushnet’s The New Constitutional Order," (2004) 2 International Journal of Constitutional Law 195. 
  • "Criticizing the Obligatory Acts of Lawyers: A Response to Markovits’s Legal Ethics from the Lawyer’s Point of View," (2004) 16 Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 1.
  • "Reasonable Illegal Force: Justice and Legitimacy in a Pluralistic, Liberal Society," (2001) 111 Ethics 344.
  • "The Significance of Rawls's Law of Peoples; A Response to Lea Brilmayer," (2000) 6 International Legal Theory 51. 
  • "Consensual Sex Without Assuming the Risk of Carrying an Unwanted Fetus; Another Foundation for the Right to an Abortion," (1997) 63 Brooklyn Law Review 1051.
  • "The ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and Authoritarian Morality," (1997) 5 The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 619. Reprinted (shorter version) in Dissent 85 (Summer 1997), and in Current Controversies: Homosexuality (2002).
  • "Doing, Allowing, and Disabling: Some Principles Governing Deontological Restrictions," (1995) 80 Philosophical Studies 183.

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