2014 JSI Seminar Series: Dr George Duke

29 May 2014

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Law as a Rational Standard for Conduct: The Weak Natural Law Thesis and Legal Positivism

The weak natural law thesis (WNLT) asserts that any instance of law is either a rational standard for conduct or defective. On the face of it, the reference to defective law in this formulation of the WNLT suggests that it is compatible with the legal positivist claim that the validity of a law within a legal system depends upon its sources, not its merits. George Duke argues that the WNLT, whilst on one level compatible with both the conventionality and sources theses, can nonetheless be employed to challenge commonly held legal positivist views on the identity conditions of law. The cogency of this challenge, however, depends upon more substantive commitments than can be derived from the WNLT itself. Section one argues that the WNLT must be situated within the broader context of natural law politics and jurisprudence if it is to avoid the charge of triviality. In section two, Duke examines the compatibility of the WNLT with legal positivism in light of that broader context.

Dr George Duke is a senior lecturer in philosophy at Deakin University. George completed a PhD in philosophy at the University of Melbourne in 2010. His research interests include the philosophy of language, legal theory, the history of political thought, political philosophy and ancient philosophy.

George is currently preparing a book manuscript on natural law theories of political authority and the common good and he has published articles in Legal Theory, Law and Philosophy and TheAmerican Journal of Jurisprudence on these topics.

Lawyers/barristers: attendance at this lecture is equal to 1.5 MCLE/CPD unit

Time: 6.00pm - 8.00pm

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

Cost: Free, registration essential

Contact: Professional Learning and Community Engagement (PLaCE) Team

Phone: (02)93510248

Email: 540c125a333506090227323f001439010c421013191e0e0d