JSI Seminar Series: What Does "Legal Obligation" Mean?

10 August 2017


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Speaker: Assistant Professor Daniel Wodak, Virginia Tech

We use words like "obligation" in moral and legal contexts. But what do words like "obligation" mean in such contexts? On one view, "obligation" is ambiguous in moral and legal contexts. H.L.A. Hart is often read as having accepting this view. On another, "obligation" has a distinctively moralized meaning in legal contexts. Scott Shapiro, Joseph Raz, and Jules Coleman endorse this view; it is perhaps the dominant view in philosophy of law. A third view is that "obligation" has a generic meaning in moral and legal contexts. This is often accepted in linguistics and philosophy of law. Debates about this issue in philosophy of law rarely engage with philosophy of language, and vice versa. That is a problem. After showing how we can make the nature of and disagreements between these three views more precise, Daniel Wodak will show how we can marshal linguistic data against both rivals to the view that "obligation" has a generic meaning. He will close by explaining why this has some significant implications for jurisprudence.


About the Speaker

Daniel Wodak is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Virginia Tech, where he works on metaethics, ethics, and philosophy of law. He has published in Philosophical Studies, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Philosophy Compass, and the Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race. He completed a BA and LLB at Sydney University and a PhD in Philosophy at Princeton.


CPD Points: 2

Time: 6-8pm

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

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 5c0e4566542c5c052d1211172c02413703603637426b0f25