JSI Seminar Series: Revamping Associative Obligations

8 February 2017


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Revamping Associative Obligations

Speaker: Professor George Pavlakos, University of Glasgow

Ronald Dworkin was a defender of the idea that we have a general political obligation to obey the law of the state we live in. On his view, political obligations are moral obligations that extend over the range of persons who live within a political community and are associated with one another in a special way. Dworkin was probably the first philosopher to describe such obligations of political morality as associative but others, most notably Thomas Nagel, soon joined him.

In this paper, George Pavlakos argues for an interpretation of the Dworkinian associative account of political obligations that does not make political obligation dependent on the coercive institutions of the state. His interpretation relies on a distinction between two candidate explanations of the role social facts play in the determination of political obligations. The first submits that social facts are the sole grounds of political obligations, in the sense that those constitute the existence conditions of these. On this account political obligations depend on facts about the coercive institutions of the state. The alternative interpretation considers social facts merely as contributing factors to the existence of political obligations: the way in which they contribute is by triggering background moral reasons, which ultimately ground political obligations. In this, the second, interpretation, political obligations do not depend for their existence on facts about coercive institutions of the state.

George Pavlakos is Professor of Law and Philosophy at the School of Law, University of Glasgow. From 2007 to 2016 he was Research Professor of Globalisation and Legal Theory and director of the Centre for Law and Cosmopolitan Values at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. His research awards include two Alexander von Humboldt Fellowships, an FWO-Odysseus grant, a J.E. Purkyne Senior Research Fellowship (Czech Academy of Sciences) and a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellowship (EUI, Florence). He has held visiting and part-time positions at the Universities of Glasgow, Kiel, the UCLA Law School, the Cornell Law School and the Beihang Law School (Beijing). He is currently director of the Centre for Law and Public Affairs, Institute of State and Law, The Czech Academy of Sciences and a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp. His published work includes the monograph Our Knowledge of the Law (Hart Publishing, 2007) and has recently edited Reasons and Intentions in Law and Practical Agency (Cambridge University Press, 2015). He is also general editor of the book series Law and Practical Reason at Hart Publishing and joint general editor of the journal Jurisprudence published by Routledge.

CPD Points: 2

Time: 6-8pm

Location: Common Room, Level 4, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 5937335d57145d2d1d017846032827093a7b1f065e1e261e