Stockholm university

Daniel Augusto Pinheiro Astone

About me

I am a doctoral candidate at Stockholm University, and a Research Coordinator and Junior Fellow of the Stockholm Centre for International Law and Justice. From September 2023, I will be a Fellow at the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School. My main research interest lies in investigating the contribution of law in enabling the commodification of human beings from a systems theory perspective. The doctoral dissertation is titled Living as a commodity: property rights, systems theory and the trade on human lives. I am supervised by Professors Pål Wrange, Emilios Christodoulidis and Antonina Bakardjieva Engelbrekt.

The thesis consists of three articles. The first one, Scarcity, property rights, irresponsibility: how intellectual property deals with neglected tropical diseases (Law and Critique 2022), focused on the dynamic of value extraction through the artificial (legally-induced) scarcity that operates in the context of medicine patents. The second article, currently being reviewed by a specialist journal, sketches a theoretical framework for the interaction between the legal and the economic systems that is articulated through the form of contracts as a means to reallocate, rather than create, value. The third article, still an early draft, investigates the role of law in the scope of Marini's concept of superexploitation and labour in the context of globalisation.

I have presented my work to different audiences, at the Critical Retreat in International Law (2021, 2022 and 2023), the Global Meeting on Law and Society (LSA, Lisbon 2022) and at the Conference "Commodification and the Law" (EUI, Florence 2022). Between June and July 2023, I will be a visiting researcher at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (Oñati, Spain).

In addition to my current research agenda, I am interested in critical and social theory, critical approaches to international law and political economy, and methodology.



I have a degree in Law (2009), a postgraduate diploma in Economic Law (2015) and a master's degree in Economic and Budgetary Law (2017). Previously to joining Stockholm University, I was a PhD student at the University of Glasgow (2018).

I have experience as a legal advisor in the fields of technology, innovation and transparency, in the public sector (2008-2015) and in several research and consultancy projects (2015-2018). 

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Scarcity, Property Rights, Irresponsibility: How Intellectual Property Deals with Neglected Tropical Diseases

    2022. Daniel P. Astone. Law and Critique


    The article addresses the role of scarcity in negotiating the relationship between intellectual property, particularly from a legal-economic perspective, and property rights, as understood by transaction cost economics, to shed light on the deadlock faced by those suffering from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The consistency of the law and economics fundamentals that support the trade on knowledge goods, namely patents on essential medicines, is put under check by Scott Veitch’s scholarship on legal irresponsibility. The damages that emerge from the operations of the intellectual property system are registered in the novel concept of negative public domain, and are due mainly to the lack of access to treatments that end up being unaffordable, or to innovation that leads to new drugs that is not sufficiently incentivised though price signals. The accountability for such damages is taken into consideration by arguing that the disavowal of responsibility is made possible by the negative public domain, which is balanced by the construction of a positive response through the language of rights. As such, responsibility per se is preserved, evading one instantiation of Teubner’s legal paradoxes, but rendered ineffective by design. In other words, even if the harms endured by those affected by the NTDs can be traced back to the operations of the intellectual property system, there is no one to hold accountable. The main goal pursued through the article is to make such an arrangement explicit, by giving centrality to the notion of scarcity and its interplay between legal and economic theory, alongside the novel concept of negative public domain as a site where the actual consequences of irresponsibility lie, to hopefully inform further critique in subsequent works.

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