In Canberra for a very cold pit stop between Cambridge England and his new temporary base in Cambridge New England, ANU College of Law lecturer Joshua Neoh has love on his mind – but not the conventional kind.
Back at the College to teach a winter intensive course, Josh is also in the midst of studying for his PhD in which he is exploring in depth the question: does a society built on love need law?
“It was Paul the Apostle who originally posed the question: how do you build a community based on love?
“In the perfect paradise, it might be possible to have a community based on love – with no need for law – but we live in an imperfect fallen world.
“Paul was a giant thinker in Western theology but he didn’t resolve the question himself.
“I want to examine this question more fully. At the political level, should law mediate the relationship between the state and its citizens? Analogously, at the personal level, should law mediate the relationship between parents and their children?
“There will always be a question about the role law plays in every social structure and how much we gain from law,” he said.
Accepted to do his PhD in Law at Cambridge University in 2015 on the Cambridge Australia Scholarship, Josh has spent the last year teaching law at Cambridge while pursuing his studies.
“Teaching at Cambridge is a completely different experience to teaching in Australia, with all the teaching done face to face in groups of between three to five students.
“There’s nowhere to hide in the Cambridge system for both students and teachers,” he said.
Josh is heading to Harvard in Cambridge New England in the United States to do further research on his PhD this semester – specifically on Lon Fuller, an American legal philosopher whose manuscripts are held at Harvard.
“Fuller believed that law was a good form of social order. Nonetheless, he was concerned to put it in its place alongside other modes of social order. Law shouldn’t crowd out these other modes of social order.”
Josh graduated from ANU with his Bachelor of Laws and the University Medal in 2010 and he studied for his Master of Laws at Yale. After a short stint at Adelaide University, he came back to ANU in 2013 as a lecturer at the ANU College of Law.