Research Profile

Patrick O'Callaghan


I teach jurisprudence and tort law at UCC School of Law. I am also principal investigator in the Law and the Inner Self Project (2022–2026), funded by an Irish Research Council (Consolidator) Laureate Grant.

I joined UCC in 2014, having previously lectured at Newcastle University, UK (2007–2014). Before that, I was a researcher at the Centre for European Law and Politics (ZERP), Universität Bremen, Germany (2004–2007).

Research Interests

My background is in the legal protection of personality rights, as that field is conceptualised in the civilian legal tradition. This has led to an interest in theories of selfhood and questions about the role personality rights can play in safeguarding the opacity of the self and creating breathing space for personal development. In this research, I draw on the methodologies of the field of law and humanities.

I am currently working on a project that takes as its starting point the socio-cultural narrative of the ‘inner self’, the notion that each of us has a deep and rich inner life or a forum internum made up of unmanifested thoughts, feelings, emotions, hopes and desires. The narrative has had such a profound and enduring influence that we instinctively cherish and value the idea of the individual as a ‘real impenetrable human person’, as Iris Murdoch puts it. 

This project aims to deliver new and original insights about the evolution and nature of the idea of the inner self by interpreting it through the lens of legal change from the Middle Ages through the digital transformations of the 21st Century. To illustrate legal change, we use developments in the field of personality rights as a case study.

Forthcoming publications

The Cambridge Handbook of the Right to Freedom of Thought (CUP, 2024) (co-edited with Bethany Shiner)

Recent publications

P. O’Callaghan, ‘Enlightened Remembering and the Paradox of Forgetting: From Dante to Data Privacy’ (2023) 17(2) Law and Humanities 
210–227 [LINK

P. O’Callaghan, O. Cronin, B. Kelly, B. Shiner, J. Walmsley, & S. McCarthy-Jones ‘The Right to Freedom of Thought: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the UN Special Rapporteur’s Report on Freedom of Thought’ (2023) International Journal of Human Rights (EPub Ahead of Print) [LINK

M. Cahill & P. O’Callaghan, ‘Reenchanting Practice: Stanley Fish and the Challenge of Virtue Ethics’ in M. Martin & T. Bustamante (eds) New Essays on the Fish-Dworkin Debate (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2023) pp 99–118

Recent presentations

P. O’Callaghan, ‘The Right to Freedom of Thought: Using Common Law Principles to Answer the Threshold Question’, Annual Conference of the Netherlands Institute for Law and Governance, University of Groningen, 15th September 2023

P. O’Callaghan, ‘Law and the Inner Self: Reflecting on the Roots of Intellectual Property Law’, Law and Humanities Roundtable, University of Verona, 12th July 2023

P. O’Callaghan, ‘Law and the Inner Self: Understanding Harm in the Context of Socio-Technological Transformations’, Law and Society Association Annual Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2nd June 2023

P. O’Callaghan, ‘Law and the Inner Self’, Hannah Arendt Center Seminar Series, University of Verona, 25th May 2023

P. O’Callaghan, ‘The Evolution of Privacy Law: From Privacy 1.0 to Privacy 6.0.’, Symposium on Privacy in the Digital Generation, University of Manchester, 9th May 2023 

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School of Law

Scoil an Dlí

Room 1.63, Aras na Laoi, T12 T656