Julius Stone Address 2017: Professor Seana Shiffrin

18 September 2017


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Julius Stone Address 2017: Democratic Law

This lecture offers an account of democracy's intrinsic communicative value and law's special role in realizing that value. To nurture and sustain the social bases of self-respect and an operative sense of social solidarity, citizens must convey to each other their convictions of mutual equality, their commitments to respect their essential human needs and moral rights, and their mutual commitment to cooperate and provide every member with a stable place of belonging. The morally incumbent forms of interpersonal communication require a sort of public commitment undertaken through articulate action. Law serves as the requisite device of public communication that has qualities of substantive expression that mere discursive messages lack. Law is public, available for all to see, and takes the form of an ongoing, articulate commitment. But, for law to convey the message that citizens must convey, each of us must be able to contribute to its formation; hence, for law to play this special function, it must be democratically forged. The lecture traces these theoretical connections and some distinctive implications for democratic participation and respect for law.


About the Speaker

Seana Valentine Shiffrin is Chair and Professor of Philosophy and Pete Kameron Professor of Law and Social Justice at UCLA, where she has taught since 1992 and is the co-director and co-founder of the UCLA Law and Philosophy Program. Shiffrin received her B.A. degree from the University of California, Berkeley where she was the University Medallist. She attended Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar and received the B.Phil. with Distinction and the D.Phil. in Philosophy. She earned her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. Shiffrin teaches courses on moral and political philosophy as well as contracts, freedom of speech, constitutional rights and individual autonomy, remedies, and legal theory. She served for sixteen years as an associate editor of the journal Philosophy and Public Affairs where she is now an advisory editor. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a recent winner of the Rutter Award for excellence in teaching. Her research addresses issues in moral, political and legal philosophy, as well as matters of legal doctrine that concern equality, autonomy, and the social conditions for their realization. She has written extensively on the morality of promising and the role of law in facilitating and fostering moral character, with a special emphasis on the connection between contracts and promises. Her recent book, Speech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law explored the ethics of communication and the connection between the prohibition on lying, freedom of speech, and moral progress.


CPD Points: 1.5


This event is generously sponsored by the Educational Heritage Foundation.


Time: 6 - 7.30pm (registration from 5.30pm)

Location: New Law School Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 270c2678041c3d20213b0a1f343c372e2e7c4e564c45543b