Dr Stephen Bero

Senior Lecturer
+44 (0)1483 683032
34 AB 05



Dr Stephen Bero joined the School of Law in 2017, after earning a PhD in philosophy from the University of Southern California. Prior to that, he received a JD from Columbia Law School, practiced law for several years in the litigation department of a large commercial law firm in New York, and served as a law clerk for judges at the trial and appellate levels of the U.S. federal courts. He is a Research Fellow of the Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy.

Research interests

Dr Bero's main research interests are in private law (particularly tort law), criminal law, philosophy of law, and moral philosophy.


Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy

Departmental duties

Dr Bero is the Programme Leader for the Law School's LLB Programme and the most recent Director of the law school's JD Pathway Programme, described below.

The JD Pathway (or Senior Status) Programme

The law school’s JD Pathway (formerly, Senior Status) Programme, which was active through 2018-19, is a 2-year, graduate-entry LLB programme designed for students who already hold a university degree in a subject other than law. Students enter the programme with second-year status (that is, at level 5 rather than level 4, under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland). They are largely taught in tutorial groups made up of other graduate-entry students, and they undertake a rigorous and comprehensive course of legal training. Both years of study are counted for purposes of classifying the resulting LLB, which is a qualifying law degree in England and Wales.

Complete information about the structure of the JD Pathway/Senior Status Programme—including compulsory and optional subjects of study, learning outcomes, assessment methods, etc.—is available in the programme catalogue and in the programme handbook. (Please note that we are no longer accepting new applications to this programme.)

For Prospective Employers – Dr Bero (contact info above) is very happy to answer any questions that prospective employers may have about Senior Status or JD Pathway graduates, the course of study they pursued, or the resulting LLB degree. 

For Graduates – For the benefit of graduates of the JD Pathway/Senior Status Programme, Dr Bero is available to answer any questions that prospective employers may have, or to provide a letter explaining the nature of the programme. You are also welcome to refer prospective employers directly to Dr Bero. In addition, we are always happy to hear from our Senior Status and JD Pathway graduates! Please do not hesitate to contact Dr Bero with news, comments, or questions.


Aness Kim Webster, Stephen Bero (2022)Shame and the Ethical in Williams, In: Morality and Agency Oxford University Press

Bernard Williams’s Shame and Necessity (1993) was an influential early contribution to what has become a broader movement to rehabilitate shame as a moral emotion. But there is a tension in Williams’s discussion that presents an underappreciated difficulty for efforts to rehabilitate shame. The tension arises between what Williams takes shame in its essence to be and what shame can do—the role that shame can be expected to play in ethical life. Williams can—and, the authors argue, should—be read as avoiding the difficulties stemming from this tension, but this requires a reevaluation of several of his central claims about shame’s role in ethical thought and experience. For instance, his broad claims that the “structures of shame” can “give a conception of one’s ethical identity” and that shame “mediates . . . between ethical demands and the rest of life” cannot be taken at face value. What emerges is a view that is in a sense less ambitious but also more in tune with the spirit of Williams’s larger project. There may also, the authors suggest, be a more general lesson: we should be suspicious of the temptation to seek some special affinity between shame and ethical life lest we distort our understanding of both.

Steve Bero (2019)The audience in shame, In: Philosophical Studiespp. 1-20 Springer Netherlands

Many experiences of shame centrally involve exposure. This has suggested to a number of writers that shame is essentially a social emotion that involves being exposed to the view or appraisal of an audience—call this the Audience Thesis. Others reject the Audience Thesis on the basis of private experiences of shame that seem to involve no exposure. This disagreement marks a basic fault line in theorizing about shame. I develop and explore a simple but effective way to shield the Audience Thesis from the private shame objection, by understanding the notion of an audience in a very minimal way. Rather than conceiving of the audience in terms of an other whose appraisal is an element in shame, we can conceive of shame generally as a response to appraisals of the subject—either by others or by the subject herself. On this view, shame requires an audience in the sense that it is not a first-order self-appraisal—like disappointment in or disapproval of oneself—but rather an appraisal of appraisals. This approach yields substantial benefits: it renders the private shame objection harmless; it explains why exposure cases strike us as particularly paradigmatic instances of shame; it clarifies what is happening when we feel shame before appraisals with which we do not agree; it helps to understand how it may be possible to feel shame in the face of neutral or even positive appraisals; and it captures a significant but neglected sense in which shame might be considered a social emotion.

Stephen Bero, Alexander Sarch (2020)The Problem of Over-Inclusive Offenses: A Closer Look at Duff on Legal Moralism and Mala Prohibita, In: Criminal Law and Philosophy Springer

There are sometimes good reasons to define a criminal offense in a way that is over-inclusive, in the sense that the definition will encompass conduct that is not otherwise wrongful. But are these reasons ever sufficient? When, if ever, can such laws justifiably be made and enforced? When, if ever, can they permissibly be violated? In The Realm of Criminal Law, Antony Duff tackles this challenge head on. We find Duff’s strategy promising in many ways as an effort to reconcile over-inclusive offenses with the wrongness constraint on criminalization. Nonetheless, we aim to move the discussion forward by raising questions about Duff’s solution and highlighting some limitations and costs. We begin in Part 2 by sketching the contours of Duff’s position; then in Part 3 we propose one refinement and offer two practical observations; and finally, in Part 4 we raise broader concerns. In particular, we question whether the problem of over-inclusive offenses is one that can or ought to be solved, or whether it is better conceived as a difficulty to be managed and mitigated. Of course, we should avoid undue harshness in the law where we can, and Duff’s approach is guided by this worthy ambition. But there may also be a limit to this. To the extent that the harshness cannot be avoided, perhaps this should be acknowledged and faced up to, rather than obscured or finessed.

Steve Bero (2019)Holding Responsible and Taking Responsibility, In: Law and Philosophypp. 1-34 Springer

In matters of responsibility, there are often two sides to the transaction: one party who holds another responsible, and the other who (ideally) takes responsibility for her conduct. The first side has been closely scrutinized in discussions of the nature of responsibility, due to the influential Strawsonian conjecture that an agent is responsible if and only if it is (in some sense) appropriate to hold her responsible. This preoccupation with holding responsible—with its focus on the second-personal perspective and on responses like blame—contrasts with a relative neglect of the perspective of the agent and the role that she has to play by taking responsibility. I aim to show that this neglect is undeserved—that taking responsibility is both distinct in character from holding responsible and fundamentally important in its own right. I develop a conception of taking responsibility that reveals an under-explored dimension of our responsibility practices.