Seminars

Victor Tadros (Warwick)

Fairness, Avoidability and Sanctions

6 July 2020 | 12:00 EST | 17:00 BST

A familiar view of responsibility is that a person is responsible, in a certain sense, for conduct if that conduct is attributable to her. However, it might be argued, the fact that wrongful conduct can be attributed to the wrongdoer is insufficient to make the infliction of sanctions for that conduct fair. Something more is required – something to do with the opportunity to avoid either the sanctions, or the conduct on which the sanctions are based. I argue that the fairness of the imposition of a sanction on a person does not depend on the opportunity that the person had to avoid having that sanction inflicted on her. I also raise doubts about the idea that the infliction of sanctions is made fair by a person having a compatibilist-friendly opportunity to avoid the basis of those sanctions being inflicted on the person. Determinism thus continues to pose serious challenges for the fair infliction of sanctions, and indeterminism doesn’t help. We need less conventional theories of the justification of sanctions to meet these challenges.

Attendance is free but numbers are limited. Register here.

Kimberley Brownlee (Warwick/UBC)

Exposure and Invisibility: The Worst Harms of Homelessness

3 August 2020 | 12:00 EST | 17:00 BST

A homeless person sleeping rough on the street has no control over his social environment, i.e. when and how he is seen by other people. He is entirely exposed, but also treated as invisible. This paper fleshes out the nature and severity of these two social harms – exposure and invisibility – and the injustices they both reflect and produce. The paper shows that these social harms are worse than the harms of property-deprivation and restricted personal freedom as such, which are also the lot of the rough sleeper. The paper concludes that a necessary good that a home provides for us is meaningful control over our social environment. 

Attendance is free but numbers are limited. Registration will be available from 20 July 2020.

Mitchell Berman (Pennsylvania)

Principled Positivism: How Practices Make Principles, and How Principles Make Rules

14 September 2020 | 12:00 EST | 17:00 BST

The most fundamental question in general jurisprudence concerns what makes it the case that the law has the content that it does.  This paper offers a novel answer.  In brief: legal practices ground legal principles, and legal principles ground legal rules.  I call this two-level account of the determination of legal content “principled positivism.”  It differs from Hart’s celebrated theory in two essential respects: in relaxing Hart’s requirement that fundamental legal notions depend for their existence on judicial consensus; and in assigning weighted contributory legal norms—“principles”—an essential role in the determination of legal rights, duties, powers, and permissions.  Drawing on concrete legal examples, the paper shows how the version of positivism that it introduces betters Hart’s in meeting the most formidable challenges to positivism that Dworkin marshaled.

Attendance is free but numbers are limited. Registration will be available from 31 August 2020.