JSI Seminar Series: The Nature of Law and its Implications for Adjudication

12 July 2017


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Speaker: Kevin Toh, University College London

It may be that our legal thinking and practice are sufficiently messy and lacking in coherence so that no one theory of the nature of law, or at least no one theory of the sort that is currently available in the literature, is descriptively accurate. Such a state of affairs would provide us with theoretical opportunities as well as disappointments. Instead of trying to come up with a maximally accurate theory of the nature of law, we can instead try to come up with a plausible natural history of law - i.e. an imaginary history modelled on the classic natural histories of the sort that a number of philosophers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries devised. Some such natural histories were vindicatory of the relevant subject matter (e.g. Hume on justice, Rousseau on republican forms of government), whereas some others were debunking (e.g. Hume on religion, Nietzsche on morality). Instead of trying to come up with a natural history of law that vindicates or debunks law as such, we can have a more modest aim of devising a natural history of law that vindicates a certain theory of legal adjudication or interpretation. This paper is an attempt to come up with an admittedly partial natural history of law that accomplishes that task.

About the Speaker

Kevin Toh is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Laws, University College London. He previously taught in the philosophy departments of Indiana University and San Francisco State University. He has also held visiting fellowships at University College, Oxford University and the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities at University of Edinburgh. He is the author of a number of articles in philosophy of law and constitutional theory.

CPD Points: 2

Time: 6-8pm

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

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 15372f42511c1436371407422a351b134e1f3f3e3d59063b