Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.


Vol. 27 No. 4 · 17 February 2005

Search by issue:

Central Questions

Thomas Nagel’s review of Nicola Lacey’s biography of my father, H.L.A. Hart, is full of inconsistencies (LRB, 3 February). He makes gossipy and inaccurate personal insinuations about my mother, Jenifer Hart, whom he seems rather fascinated with, while at the same time criticising this very rich and full biography for being too personal. To bolster his position of academic noseholding he spins a story – ‘something else is going on as well’ – to the effect that Lacey wrote the book at my mother’s behest and was therefore doing her supposedly self-justifying work. In fact it was Lacey who suggested herself as the biographer, not the other way round, and if anything my father’s diaries do not portray my mother in a very good light but rather show him as suffering from her personality. My mother had no idea what was in the diaries when she handed them to Lacey.

Of course there are serious issues as to how much intimate material it is right to use in a biography, but their discussion is not advanced by Nagel’s contemptuous reduction of Lacey’s portrayal of my father’s inner turmoil to an instance of the general that he would rather not know about. Lacey has succeeded not only in giving an accessible account of my father’s work – which was a large part of my mother’s motivation in wanting a biography written – but also in showing something of the complex emotional structures that underpinned and sustained his pursuit of philosophical knowledge.

Joanna Ryan
London N16

We were puzzled and depressed to read Thomas Nagel’s patronising review of Nicola Lacey’s biography of Herbert Hart. In particular, his sweeping claim that the author is ‘lost’ when it comes to philosophical issues is both ungenerous and unsupported. Nagel adduces two pieces of evidence, one of which is a glancing reference to the paradox of analysis, and the other some remarks to which he takes exception (calling them ‘absurd’) about the difference between J.L. Austin and Wittgenstein. On each point, Lacey is right and Nagel wrong.

It is a brave philosopher who would undertake to state exactly what the ‘paradox of analysis’ is, as is apparent from the fact that many philosophers deny that there is any such thing. Its core is the idea, attributed to Frege, for example, by Michael Dummett, that if two expressions have the same sense, and one understands each of them, then it should be transparent that they have the same sense. The practice of analysis has an uneasy relationship with that principle: it is constantly poised between saying only what is trivial but true, and saying things that may be exciting but false. Lacey states this as the problem that ‘if language speaks for itself, it is not clear that philosophical analysis is either necessary or capable of being applied to linguistic usage without doing violence to its meaning.’ This is a perfectly adequate account. It is not the last word in this problem area, but it is enough for her purpose and for the reader. It illuminates an important difficulty: how can Hart’s analysis tell us anything new about law or about the legal use of concepts like causation, if it promises to do nothing more than elucidate ordinary usage?

The other problem Nagel alludes to is Lacey’s discussion of the difference between J.L. Austin’s approach to meaning and that of Wittgenstein. Nagel can hardly deny that there is a difference: whereas Wittgenstein is always, clearly, doing something of great importance, every student of philosophy is puzzled by the point of Austin’s minute investigations of English usage. Many think that whatever point it purported to have was largely undermined by H.P. Grice, but nobody could say that about Wittgenstein. Lacey locates the difference between the two men as that between confining attention to evidence derived from language and the dictionary, on the one hand, and extending it to thoughts about the genealogy of social and institutional practices and their purpose – what Wittgenstein would have called ‘the form of life’ that gives rise to the language – on the other. This is again a perfectly serviceable diagnostic, explaining, for example, why Wittgenstein is still a force in the philosophy of social science in a way that Austin is not. It is certainly nearer the truth than Nagel’s own claim that Austin’s was a more empirical approach than Wittgenstein’s. Again, this is important for Lacey’s estimation of Hart’s jurisprudence: an account of the different verbal contexts in which we use terms like ‘rule’ and ‘obligation’ will tell us something about the law; an account of the different social contexts (including contexts of power) in which those terms are heard will tell us something else. Hart’s jurisprudence oscillates back and forth but comes to rest more on the Austinian side. Lacey offers a perfectly reasonable hypothesis to explain this.

There are already some excellent books devoted to close analysis of the published writings of this great legal philosopher: Neil MacCormick’s H.L.A. Hart (1981) is a fine example. Lacey’s book is philosophically illuminating, but it is also about philosophy and what it is like to do philosophy (as a particular form of life in a particular social context). It is a biography, not a textbook. Nagel wrinkles his nose at Lacey’s probing beneath the published surface to reveal the underlying preoccupations of Hart’s life. Well and good; opinions differ on this, as Lacey acknowledged. But is it then fair of him to respond with his own unkind speculations about the hidden agenda of the book (that Lacey cannot do philosophy, that she prefers sociology, and that that’s why she rebukes Hart for siding with Austin)?

Simon Blackburn & Jeremy Waldron
Trinity College, Cambridge & Columbia University, New York

Thomas Nagel writes: I agree with the writers of both these letters that the use of intimate material presents difficult issues, and that reasonable people can differ. My review expressed a personal view, that their use should be more restricted than is now customary, without the subject’s express or implied consent, until a substantial time after his death.

I am moved by Joanna Ryan’s strongly felt letter. In reply let me say that Nicola Lacey has already corrected my misinterpretation of her statement that Jenifer Hart ‘offered me the opportunity’ to write a biography. I regret the mistake, and recognise that it undermines my opening speculation. But I don’t know what to make of Ryan’s statement that her mother had no idea what was in the diaries when she handed them to Lacey. Lacey says that Jenifer ‘was shocked by the depth of anxiety and despair recorded in the diaries when she read them after his death’. This refers to one particular period; perhaps Ryan has personal knowledge that her mother didn’t read most of them. Ryan says I seem rather fascinated with Jenifer Hart. How could I not be? She is a force of nature, as her autobiography and Lacey’s book reveal.

Simon Blackburn and Jeremy Waldron explain the paradox of analysis as I would understand it, and then quote a sentence from Lacey that they think encapsulates it. What seems to me to make that interpretation impossible are the next two sentences: ‘For philosophical analysis is itself a (distinctive) form of usage. How, then, can linguistic philosophy criticise the incoherence of the linguistic practice which it takes as its material?’ Perhaps it’s a problem of obscure writing, but I don’t see what this has to do with the paradox of analysis.

I was a student of J.L. Austin, and cannot help having a different view of his philosophical temperament and a different understanding of his influence on his contemporaries from what one could gather from his meagre published writings. (He died at the age of 48.) He was not a deep philosopher like Wittgenstein, indeed he distrusted depth; but he had a large intellectual appetite and interest in the world which is not adequately reflected in the refined studies of linguistic usage and the theory of speech acts for which he is best known. He had none of the flavour of philosophical purity characteristic of Wittgenstein. When I was beginning to write on altruism he was very helpful in directing me to the literature in motivational psychology. I also remember his class on excuses, which used legal case material to great effect, with no sense of dry verbal nitpicking. Hart was influenced by both Wittgenstein and Austin, and both were important, but I still think there is nothing in the idea that Wittgenstein would have moved him in a more empirical direction, and that this frightened him off.

Blackburn and Waldron refer to my ‘unkind speculations about the hidden agenda of the book’, but my response to Lacey’s repeated complaints about Hart’s neglect of sociology refers to nothing hidden. She looks for unacknowledged reasons for his neglect, and I simply say this shows that she undervalues the philosophical approach which was the source of his contributions.

What I heard about Iraq

I had missed Donald Rumsfeld’s comments about the vase removed from the National Museum in Iraq, quoted by Eliot Weinberger (LRB, 3 February). Last year I made a large collection of terracotta cuneiform tablets and copies of glazed and decorated bowls and jugs; fired, smoked and smashed them; and, during Somerset Arts Week, exhibited them next to a notice saying: ‘Iraqi war souvenirs. Please help yourself.’ About a third of the visitors got the point of the installation and came over to share their rage and despair, most of them having heard the same things as Weinberger. Another third were uncertain or curious in various ways: ‘What’s it about?’ ‘Have you visited Iraq recently?’ ‘These are real, aren’t they – are you sure you want to give them away?’ ‘Is this real writing?’ ‘It says to help myself but I don’t feel that’s right.’ And some walked off with a cheery ‘Thanks very much’ as they stuffed pieces of broken tablet into their pockets.

Judith Crosher
Brompton Ralph, Somerset

On the Mesopotamian Plain

David McDowall seeks to deny the role of oil in the British occupation of Iraq in 1918 (Letters, 20 January). Yet in 1924, the Admiralty informed the foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, that ‘from a strategical point of view, the essential point is that Great Britain should control the territories on which the oilfields are situated.’ Five weeks later, Curzon lied to the Times: ‘Oil had not the remotest connection with my attitude, or with that of His Majesty’s Government, over Mosul.’

Will Podmore
London E12

Mind your DNA

If crooks want to avoid leaving fingerprints, all they have to do is wear gloves; it’s much harder to avoid leaving DNA. A better tactic would be to spoil the crime scene with DNA from someone else. It is easy to obtain other people’s DNA from the contents of their dustbin, and a crook could choose either to frame just one person, or to leave dozens of fake samples. If everyone’s DNA were to be on file as Stephen Sedley proposes (LRB, 20 January), it would lead to a considerable increase in wrongful convictions. Since fingerprints can be faked too, a fingerprint database does not solve the problem. All of which makes it important for identity cards, if they are to be introduced, to contain iris or retinal scans rather than DNA records or fingerprints.

Adrian Bowyer
University of Bath

Board and Lodging

Alan Bennett complains that the Court of Appeal had ordered that the wrongly imprisoned Vincent and Michael Hickey ‘effectively pay board and lodging for the years that they have spent in jail’ (LRB, 6 January). However, the issue before the Court of Appeal was whether it was lawful to deduct from the Hickeys’ awards for pecuniary damages sums that had been awarded to them for their living expenses during the period of their imprisonment. The Hickeys did not have expenses for board and lodging when imprisoned and hence there was no ground to grant them an award for those expenses.

Harold Reynolds
Scarsdale, New York

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.