prison, humanity, research, philosophy, authentic description


I argue in this article that people in prison make excellent philosophers, for reasons related to what they are deprived of. I also suggest that great novels constitute, or at the very least, introduce us to, philosophy. Some of the deepest questions about human life can be addressed by fusing philosophical thinking with empirical research in prisons. Prisoners talk with depth and insight about what it is to feel human, what matters most in human experience, and the importance of the ‘vibrations of fellow feeling’.

Author Bio

Alison Liebling is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Cambridge and the Director of the Institute of Criminology’s Prisons Research Centre. Her books include Prisons and their Moral Performance, The Effects of Imprisonment, and The Prison Officer. She was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship in 2020-23 to carry out the project, ‘Moral rules, social science and forms of order in prison’.


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