Discussing the criteria for a just legal system
with Dr. Robert GEORGE, McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence, Princeton University, and Dr. Andrea SIMONCINI, Professor of Law, University of Florence
Presented by Crossroads Cultural Center
Our topic for this discussion is natural law, both as a general concept and in its practical implications.
Natural law arguments have played an important historical role in the development of Western legal culture. Today we often forget that natural law played a major role in English common law and also in early American juriprudence, including foundational texts like the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. It is unfortunate that nowadays this notion is often called into question and regarded as a somewhat "theological" concept. In fact, the rejection of natural law is just another aspect of the neo-positivistic mentality that still largely dominates our culture. As is often the case, a positivistic approach claims to embrace the "facts" but actually ends up obliterating concrete human experience and replacing it with abstractions. In the case of natural law, the objective voice of the human moral conscience is silenced and the source of laws is identified with abstract mechanisms, which ultimately are controlled by the dominant social and political powers. But deep down we all know that power is not everything. In the words of Simone Weil:
For two or three centuries it has been believed, at the same time, that force is the only master of all natural phenomena and that men can and must found their mutual relationships on justice, recognized by reason […]. It is not conceivable that in the universe everything be absolutely under the domain of force but man be exempted from it, while he, too, is made of flesh and blood and his thinking wanders according to the flow of sensitive impressions […]. If justice cannot be erased from the heart of man, it means that it has its own reality in this world. Then science is wrong […]. If force is absolutely sovereign, then justice is absolutely unreal. But it is not. We know that experientially. It is real at the bottom of men’s heart.
The goal of this discussion is to redicover not only the meaning and value of natural law, but also its origins in the objective human capacity to recognize and desire justice, and we are fortunate to have two speakers who are real experts in these matters.
The event is open to the public and free of charge.
About this EventDate: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Location: New York University, Kimmel Center, Room 914
60 Washington Square South, New York, NY
New York, NY Directions
About the SpeakersDr. Robert George
McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence, Princeton University Dr. Andrea Simoncini
Professor of Law, University of Florence
InvitationDownload the invitation
VideoPart I - Introduction, Dr. Robert George
Part II - Dr. Andrea Simoncini
Part III - Q&A