september, 2018

20sep10:30 am5:30 pmMoral Foundations of Private Law: Celebrating John Gardner’s New Book


Event Details

John Gardner, Professor of Law and Philosophy at Oxford University and Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, is one of today’s leading legal philosophers. The Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy will celebrate the publication of his new book on the moral foundations of private law, From Personal Life to Private Law (Oxford University Press), with a full-day symposium. Four commentators will respond to selected aspects of Prof. Gardner’s work, followed by general discussion: Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco (Surrey), Stephen Bero (Surrey), Richard Holton (Cambridge), and Adam Slavny (Warwick). A celebratory reception will follow.

About the Book: Mounting a lawsuit against someone who has wronged you is a prospect no less fearful than being on the receiving end of such a lawsuit. Litigation in the courts has a reputation for being a byzantine process far removed from ordinary life, often failing to address people’s real grievances while adding to their pain. Yes, there is money to be had if you win. But beyond that, what is it all in aid of? John Gardner argues that many of the questions that perennially occupy the courts in civil cases are actually timeless puzzles about the human condition. The architecture of the law of torts and the law of contract turns out to track the contours of personal life much more closely than you might expect. Using a wide range of examples from literature and life as well as law, Gardner explores big questions about our relationships to our own pasts and our own futures as well as to other people. What are friends for? Why does it matter how your actions turn out? What is the good of saying sorry? Why regret your mistakes? How can anyone be compensated for an irreversible loss? Why would you want to hold onto the life you already have? And what does any of this have to do with all those protracted legal disputes about damaged cars, ruined holidays, and leaky roofs?

This is an invitation only event. Please direct expressions of interest to Hrafn Asgeirsson at

The Agenda is as follows:

10:30am Welcome/coffee/tea

11:00pm Richard Holton (Cambridge)

11:20pm Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco (Surrey)

11:40am Coffee/tea

12:00pm John Gardner’s thoughts/open discussion

1:00pm Lunch

2:30pm Stephen Bero (Surrey)

2:50pm Adam Slavny (Warwick)

3:10pm Coffee/tea

3:30pm John Gardner’s thoughts/open discussion

4:45pm Reception


(Thursday) 10:30 am - 5:30 pm


University of Surrey School of Law

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

Leave your comment