The Original Source of Law: The Individual? The State? God?

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 Event

Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Time: 7pm
Location: New York University, Kimmel Center, Room 914
60 Washington Square South, New York, NY
New York, NY Directions

About the Speakers

Dr. Robert George
McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence, Princeton University
Dr. Andrea Simoncini
Professor of Law, University of Florence


Download the invitation


Download here


Part I - Introduction, Dr. Robert George
Part II - Dr. Andrea Simoncini
Part III - Q&A

Photos - click on image below

Reader Comments (2)

I would love to hear Robert George on the original source of Law. Is it possible to buy the video or the paper? Sincerely, Rodrigo Guerra, President, Center for Advanced Social Research - Mexico

April 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRODRIGO GUERRA

Is Dr. George's talk available? The "Part 1: Introduction, Dr. Robert George" clip only goes for 2mins and cuts out...

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Langrell

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