march, 2018

21mar5:00 pm6:30 pmBrian Leiter: 'The Roles of Judges in Democracies: A Realistic View'


Event Details

We are honoured to welcome Professor Brian Leiter, who will present: ‘The Roles of Judges in Democracies: A Realistic View’. This is an optional pre-read seminar, and the paper is available at this link. A wine and cheese reception will follow.

Abstract: What are the “obligations” of judges in democracies? An adequate answer requires us to be realistic both about democracies and about law. Realism about democracy demands that we recognize that electoral outcomes are largely, though not entirely, unrelated to concrete policy choices by elected representatives or to the policy preferences of voters, who typically follow their party based on “tribal” loyalties. The latter fact renders irrelevant the classic counter-majoritarian (or counter-democratic) worries about judicial review. Realism about law requires that we recognize that judges, especially on appellate courts, will inevitably have to render moral and political judgments in order to produce authoritative resolutions of disputes, one of the central functions of a legal system in any society. That means it is impossible to discuss the “obligations” of judges without regard to their actual moral and political views, as well as the moral and political ends we believe ought to be achieved.

Brian Leiter is the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of Chicago Law School and founder and Director of Chicago’s Center for Law, Philosophy & Human Values. His primary research interests are in legal philosophy and Continental philosophy, especially Nietzsche and Marx. His books include Objectivity in Law and Morals (Cambridge, 2001) (editor), Naturalizing Jurisprudence (Oxford, 2007), Why Tolerate Religion? (Princeton, 2013), and Nietzsche on Morality (Routledge, 2nd edition, 2015). He is presently working on projects in moral psychology and meta-ethics (often in relation to Nietzsche), on realism as a theme in political and legal theory, on meta-ethical and metaphysical questions in general jurisprudence, and on philosophical issues about free speech, in both the liberal and Marxian traditions. He is founding editor of the book series Routledge Philosophers and is co-editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law. He is also the founder of the Philosophical Gourmet Report (“PGR”), an influential ranking of Anglephone philosophy programs.

Prof. Leiter’s seminar is part of our Hart Seminar Series, which features a diverse group of leading scholars working at the intersection of law and philosophy. Hart Publishing contributes generous support to make the seminar series possible. The complete 2017-18 line-up is available here.


(Wednesday) 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


University of Surrey School of Law

Frank Whittle Building (AB) Fifth Floor, Guildford, GU2 7XH

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