Hilary Term 2005


Week 1
Tue, 18 Jan: no meeting this week


Week 2
Tue, 25 Jan

Rights, Autonomy and Practical Reasoning
Danny Priel
Doctoral student in Magdalen College, Oxford

It has been argued by various writers that there is a right to do wrong. In this paper I challenge this argument by first presenting an account of the way right function in practical reasoning, and then (if the general account is correct) showing that it follows that a right to do wrong is logically impossible.


Week 3
Tue, 1 Feb

Exculpation on the Ground of Duress:
A Legal Response to Coercion-Based Emergencies
Fran├žois Tanguay-Renaud
Research student, Balliol College, Oxford

Although a relatively ‘stand-alone’ piece, this paper forms part of a wider study on the relationship between the concept of emergency and the criminal law (and hopefully, further down the road, the law in general). Looking at coercion as a specific instance of emergency, I ask what is wrong with it and focus on the defence of duress to understand better the whys and hows of the criminal law’s response to it. In particular, I attempt to take seriously Anthony Kenny’s affirmation that ‘law and duress are, as it were, in the same business’, looking at the link between authority, coercion, and punishment, as well as inquiring whether holding the law and private coercers accountable on the same moral plane can be instructive in any way.


Week 4
Tue, 8 Feb

Unwritten Constitutionalism
Mark Walters
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

In this paper I explore some ofthe theoretical implications of the emergence - or re-emergence - of an alternative view of constitutionalism according to which so-called ‘unwritten’ constitutional values are said to limit legislative power. In particular, I will consider recent arguments concerning ‘common law constitutionalism’ and ‘ancient constitutionalism’ presented by David Dyzenhaus and James Tully.
The dominant view of constitutionalism in common law jurisdictions is that legislative power is legally unfettered except to the extent that somewritten constitution provides otherwise.


Week 5
Tue, 15 Feb

Rethinking Multiculturalism and Feminism
Oonagh Reitman
Gender Institute, LSE

The paper makes a distinction between systemic patriarchy and patriarchy which attaches to distinct, tangible practices and regulatory acts. In relation to the latter, the paper defends multiculturalism only where it is synonymous with feminism (understood as the multicultural feminism which has been articulated in feminist debates on difference among women). In relation to the former, even multiculturalism which is not synonymous with feminism is defensible, provided certain deliberative principles and conditions are respected and implemented with regard to enduring systemic patriarchy. The paper defends and fleshes out how multiculturalism and feminism can be regarded as synonymous, and establishes the limits of this thesis while then specifying what are the principles and conditions which are to attach to multiculturalism to make it more defensible from a feminist perspective.


Week 6
Tue, 22 Feb

A Detached Viewpoint in Legal Theory [download paper]
Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco
Lecturer in Law, University of Birmingham

Joseph Raz shares with John Finnis the view that there is a ‘detached’ viewpoint from where we can explain our evaluative practices. But what are the conditions that make possible this kind of description or explanation? This is a puzzling and intriguing view. The purpose of this paper is to clarify those conditions that make possible the description or explanation of normative concepts and more specifically normative legal concepts.


Week 7
Tue, 1 Mar

Associative Obligations and the Obligation to Obey the Law [download paper]
Stephen Perry
Fiorello LaGuardia Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, NYU

In chapter 6 of Law’s Empire Ronald Dworkin argues that there normally exists a general obligation to obey the law and that this obligation is just one instance of a more general family of so-called ‘associative obligations’. Such obligations, the paradigmatic instances of which are obligations of family and friendship, are said by Dworkin to arise under certain specified conditions, the most important of which is that the relevant association's practices must show equal concern for all the association’s members. In this paper I argue that Dworkin’s general analysis of associative obligations is flawed and that a different argument, based on the intrinsic value of the relevant association for its members, should be accepted instead. If, however, we accept this alternative analysis, then Dworkin’s fundamental claim, which is that political obligation is a species of associative obligation, turns out after all to have a certain plausibility.


Week 8
Wed, 9 Mar

The Significance of Responsibility to Justice
Zofia Stemplowska
Doctoral student, Nuffield College, Oxford

What should the place of responsibility be in theories of justice? Even among egalitarians the disagreement seems immense. I want to show that once we re-examine the academic debate we will notice that the similarities in the treatment of responsibility by luck and democratic egalitarian theories of justice are greater than the differences. Specifically, there are two main aims to my argument. The first is to question the division of theories of justice into those that see responsibility as straightforwardly legitimising outcomes that stem from choices made against the background of equality and those that do not. The second, related, aim is to suggest another way in which considerations of responsibility can enter our theories of justice.


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