Books by James Mumford

Vexed: Ethics beyond political tribes

Across the democratic West, politics has become deeply polarised and profoundly personal. Challenge someone’s political views and increasingly you challenge their very being.

And yet, do our political tribes even make sense? Look carefully, and on the most important ethical issues of the age – assisted dying, social welfare, sexual liberation, abortion, gun control, the environment, technology, justice – the instinctive positions of both the Left and the Right are riven with contradictions.

In this refreshing and eye-opening book, James Mumford, a public thinker and independent commentator, questions the basic assumptions of our political groups. His challenge is simple: ‘Why should believing strongly about one topic mean the automatic adoption of so many others?’

Vexed is an essential and provocative account that will appeal to anyone of independent thought, and a welcome call for new reflection on the moral issues most relevant to our modern way of life.

Advance praise for Vexed: “James Mumford has written the most intriguing and original reflection on political tribalism that I have ever read. In subtle, but pacey, prose he offers a way out from political “package deals” of left and right while also affirming certain fundamental principles-inclusivity, family values, sufficiency, personal responsibility, reverence for nature and the sanctity of life. Vexed is an intellectual page-turner.”

David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics


The Guardian -read the review here

The Times – read the review here

Publisher’s Weekly – read the review here

Financial Times – read the review here

Vision – read the review here

The Tablet – read thr review here

The Catholic Herald – read the review here

Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A Phenomenological Critique

Many of the most controversial moral decisions we face hinge upon competing descriptions of life, and never is this truer than at the beginning of life. This study draws upon the branch of Continental philosophy which is phenomenology to question the descriptive adequacy, the essential ‘purchase upon reality’, of many of the approaches, attitudes and arguments which make up beginning-of-life-ethics today. The most prevalent positions and practices in our late modern culture have simply failed to take into account the reality of human emergence, the particular way that new members of our species first appear in the world.

What others have said:

“A deeply sophisticated argument about the character of our relation with unborn and newborn human beings. It challenges the models that have been allowed uncritical domination in a lot of recent ethical argument; and, without emotive pleading or overheated polemic, it insists that we look afresh at assumptions… on the grounds of solid philosophical discussion… This is a seriously impressive work” – Rowan Williams

“Skilful and original, a creative description of what Mumford calls the ‘extraordinary encounter’ of the ‘newone’. This is a contribution both to moral philosophy and to phenomenology, a rare achievement. Mumford is a scholar equally at ease in the British and Continental tradition, he opens his reader’s eyes to many a ‘fact’ which his predecessors have left unnoticed. The book is also the work of a good stylist—reading it is sheer pleasure.” – Jean-Yves Lacoste

Buy the book from Amazon here.


Notre Dame Philosophical Review – Read review by Paolo Monti here

First Things – Read review by Peter Leithard here

SCE – Read review by Michael Mawson here

The New Atlantis – Read review by Gilbert Meilaender here