Queen's Law

Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law

Colloquium in Legal and Political Philosophy

The Colloquium in Legal and Political Philosophy is the flagship activity of the Program in Law, Ethics, and Public Affairs.

Founded in Fall 2015, the Colloquium is an initiative by the Faculty of Law, the Department of Philosophy, and the Department of Political Studies. It consists of a series of seminars and workshops within the broad ambit of the Colloquium’s mandate. Students registered with the course meet with the Colloquium convenors to discuss a recent paper by a leading scholar. The following week, the students meet with the author, along with other faculty members and invited guests, for a workshop about the paper.

The Colloquium’s aim is to promote closer collaboration between legal, philosophical, and political studies, by bringing together students and faculty from these overlapping disciplines to engage in rigorous intellectual engagement. The Colloquium contributes to the Queen’s Collaborative Program in Political and Legal Thought.

In Fall 2018, the Colloquium convenors are Professor Jean Thomas and Professor Grégoire Webber. It is funded by the Canada Research Chair in Public Law and Philosophy of Law.

All of the sessions will be held at Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. 

All members of the Queen's community are welcome to attend any of the workshops listed below:


Monday September 17, 2018 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Lea YpiLea Ypi (London School of Economics)

Lea Ypi is Professor in Political Theory in the Government Department, London School of Economics, and Adjunct Associate Professor in Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. Before joining the LSE, she was a Post-doctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College (Oxford) and a researcher at the European University Institute where she obtained her PhD.

She has degrees in Philosophy and Literature from the University of Rome, La Sapienza, and has held visiting and research positions at Sciences Po, the University of Frankfurt, the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, the Australian National University and the Italian Institute for Historical Studies.

Monday October 1, 2018 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Julie DicksonJulie Dickson (University of Oxford)

Julie Dickson (LLB, Dip. L.P. Glasgow; MA, DPhil Oxford) is Fellow and Senior Law Tutor at Somerville College, and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. After completing a law degree at the University of Glasgow, and a D.Phil in Philosophy of Law at Balliol College, Oxford, she held posts at the University of Leicester and University College London before taking up a Fellowship in Law at Somerville in 2002.


Monday October 15, 2018 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Barbara HermanBarbara Herman (UCLA School of Law)

Professor Barbara Herman has appointments in both the law and philosophy departments at UCLA. She is the Griffin Professor of Philosophy at the UCLA Department of Philosophy and is teaching in the new Law and Philosophy Specialization at the law school.  She teaches and writes on moral philosophy, Kant's ethics, and the history of ethics, as well as social and political philosophy. She has published widely in moral philosophy, including The Practice of Moral Judgment, (Harvard University Press, 1993); "The Scope of Moral Requirement," Philosophy and Public Affairs, Summer 2001; "Rethinking Kant's Hedonism," in Facts and Values: Essays for Judith Thomson, eds. R. Stalnaker, R. Wedgwood, & A. Byrne (MIT Press, 2001); and "Morality and Everyday Life," in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association, Nov. 2000.

Monday October 29, 2018 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Niko Kolodny (UC Berkeley)Niko Kolodny (UC Berkeley)

Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., University of California–Berkeley). His main interests are in moral and political philosophy. His publications include “Rule Over None” (Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2014), “Why Be Rational?” (Mind, 2005), “Love as Valuing a Relationship” (The Philosophical Review, 2003).



Monday November 12, 2018 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Luis Duarte d'AlmeidaLuis Duarte d'Almeida (The University of Edinburgh)




Monday November 26, 2018 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

T.M. ScanlonTim Scanlon (Harvard University)

T.M. Scanlon is Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity. He received his B.A. from Princeton in 1962 and his Ph.D. from Harvard. In between, he studied for a year at Oxford as a Fulbright Fellow. He taught at Princeton from 1966 before coming to Harvard in 1984.

Professor Scanlon's dissertation and some of his first papers were in mathematical logic, but the bulk of his teaching and writing has been in moral and political philosophy. He has published papers on freedom of expression, the nature of rights, conceptions of welfare, and theories of justice, as well as on foundational questions in moral theory. His teaching in the department has included courses on theories of justice, equality, and recent ethical theory.

Past Speakers: Fall 2017

Monday September 18, 2017 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Leslie GreenLeslie Green (Queen's University, University of Oxford) 

"The Normativity of Law: What is the Problem?"

Leslie Green is the Professor of the Philosophy of Law and Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He also holds a part-time appointment as Professor of Law and Distinguished University Fellow at Queen's. After beginning his teaching career at Lincoln College, Oxford, he moved to Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He has visited and taught at many other law faculties, including Berkeley, Columbia, NYU, Chicago and, for some years, at the University of Texas at Austin. He writes and teaches in the areas of jurisprudence, constitutional theory, and moral and political philosophy. He serves on the board of many journals and is co-editor of Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law.

Monday October 2, 2017 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Kristi OlsonKristi Olson (Bowdoin College)

"Rational Egalitarians: A Critique of the Normative Foundations of Paretian Economics"

Kristi Olson is an assistant professor of philosophy at Bowdoin College where she works on issues of distributive justice. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University under the supervision of Thomas Scanlon, Frances Kamm, and Amartya Sen. Her research has been published in Philosophy & Public Affairs, the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and Politics, Philosophy & Economics. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she worked as a public interest lawyer.


Monday October 16, 2017 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Sophia MoreauSophia Moreau (University of Toronto)

"Discrimination and Subordination"

Professor Moreau joined the faculty in 2003 as Assistant Professor of Law and Philosophy. From 2002-03, she served as Law Clerk to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada. Before studying law, she was a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow at Harvard University, where she completed a doctoral dissertation in the Department of Philosophy on practical reasoning, the nature of autonomy and the significance of character.  She now works both on questions in legal and political philosophy and on questions of substantive law (in particular, on constitutionalized equality rights and private sector anti-discrimination law).  She has published twice in Ethics and also in the Journal of Law and Equality, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law Journal.  Her work also appears in the anthology Making Equality Rights Real: Securing Substantive Equality Under the Charter.

Monday October 30, 2017 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Professor John TasioulasJohn Tasioulas (King's College London)

Exiting the Hall of Mirrors: Morality and Law in Human Rights

Professor John Tasioulas joined The Dickson Poon School of Law in September, 2014 as the inaugural Chair of Politics, Philosophy & Law and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law. He has degrees in Law and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a D.Phil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

Professor Tasioulas is an Honorary Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School, a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, an Emeritus Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford and a member of the Academia Europaea. He has held visiting appointments at the Australian National University, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the University of Melbourne, and has acted as a consultant on human rights to the World Bank. He has delivered the 'Or 'Emet Lecture at Osgoode Hall Law School (2011) and the Natural Law Lecture at Notre Dame Law School (2012). He serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Jurisprudence, the American Society of International Law Studies in International Legal Theory, the Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Moral Philosophy and Politics.

Monday November 13, 2017 (Macdonald Hall, room 211, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.) Please note the change in room

Daniel ViehoffDaniel Viehoff (New York University)

Power and Equality

Daniel Viehoff is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. He received his B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford, an M.Phil. in Philosophy from University College London, a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University, and a J.D. from the Yale Law School.  Professor Viehoff's research focuses on political, legal, and moral philosophy. He is especially interested in questions of political authority and legitimacy, and in democratic theory.

Monday November 27, 2017 (Macdonald Hall, room 211, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.) Please note the change in room

Jacob T. LevyJacob Levy (McGill University)

Justice in Babylon

Jacob T. Levy is Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory, Professor of Political Science, and associated faculty in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University.  He is the coordinator of McGill’s Research Group on Constitutional Studies and Montreal’s Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire en Philosophie Politique, and the founding director of McGill’s Yan P. Lin Centre for the Study of Freedom and Global Orders in the Ancient and Modern Worlds. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center.

Levy is the author of The Multiculturalism of Fear (OUP 2000) and Rationalism, Pluralism, and Freedom (OUP 2015), and editor or coeditor of Colonialism and Its Legacies, Nomos LV: Federalism and Subsidiarity, and the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Classics in Contemporary Political Theory.  He is the incoming Associate Editor of The Journal of Politics for political theory. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University, and an LL.M. from the University of Chicago Law School.

Past Speakers: Fall 2016

Monday September 19, 2016 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Cheshire CalhounCheshire Calhoun (Arizona State)

Cheshire Calhoun is Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University, chair of the American Philosophical Association’s board of officers, and Research Professor at the University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. Her work stretches across the philosophical subdisciplines of normative ethics, moral psychology, philosophy of emotion, feminist philosophy, and gay and lesbian philosophy.


Monday, October 3, 2016 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Anna StilzAnna Stilz (Princeton)

Anna Stilz is Associate Professor of Politics at Princeton University.  Her research focuses on questions of political membership, authority and political obligation, nationalism and self-determination, rights to land and territory, and collective agency.  She also has a strong interest in early modern political thought (particularly 17th and 18th centuries). 

Unilateral Appropriation and Territory

Monday, October 17, 2016 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Brian Z. TamanahaBrian Tamanaha (Washington University Law) 

Brian Z. Tamanaha is the William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law at Washington University Law. Before becoming a law professor, he clerked for the Hon. Walter E. Hoffman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Hawaii, was an Assistant Attorney General for Yap State in Micronesia, and was Legal Counsel for the 1990 Micronesian Constitutional Convention. After these varied practice experiences, he earned a Doctorate of Juridical Science with a focus on legal theory at Harvard Law School.

Law in the Age of Organizations

Monday, October 24, 2016 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Michelle Madden DempseyMichelle Dempsey (Villanova)

Michelle Madden Dempsey joined Villanova in 2009 , after teaching at the University of Oxford, where she was a University Lecturer (CUF) in Law and Tutorial Fellow.  Professor Dempsey teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, feminist legal theory, and jurisprudence. She has served as Chair of the American Association of Law School’s Section on Scholarship and Section on Jurisprudence, and was elected to the American Law Institute in 2015.

Sex, Wrongs, and Criminalization

Monday, November 14, 2016 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Liam Murphy

Liam Murphy (NYU)

Liam Murphy works in legal, moral, and political philosophy and the application of these inquiries to law, legal institutions, and legal theory. Subjects of his publications range from abstract questions of moral philosophy (for example, the book Moral Demands in Nonideal Theory, 2000) to concrete issues of legal and economic policy (such as the book The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice, 2002, coauthored with Thomas Nagel). A central theme in all Murphy’s work is that legal, moral, and political theory cannot be pursued independently of one another; they are, in fact, different dimensions of a single subject.

Private Law and Public Illusion

Monday, November 28, 2016 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.)

Wil WaluchowWil Waluchow (McMaster)

Wil Waluchow is a Professor in McMaster's Department of Philosophy, the Senator William McMaster Chair in Constitutional Studies, and an Adjunct Member of the Graduate Faculty of Osgoode Hall Law School. His BA and MA in philosophy are from the University of Western Ontario (Huron University College) and his DPhil in the philosophy of law is from Oxford University, where he studied under the supervision of H.L.A. Hart. 

Normative Reasoning from a Point of View

Past Speakers: Fall 2015
Monday 21 September 2015 (Macdonald Hall, room 211, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm)


Kimberlee BrownleeKimberley Brownlee (Warwick) - "Social Contribution Injustice"

BA in Philosophy (First Class Hons), McGill; MPhil in Philosophy, Cambridge; DPhil in Philosophy, Oxford (Rhodes Scholar).

Kimberlee Brownlee is an Associate Professor in Legal and Moral Philosophy. She was also a Senior Lecturer in Moral and Political Philosophy at the University of Manchester. She has been a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in the Philosophy Department at Vanderbilt University (2008); and an HLA Hart Visiting Research Fellow at University College, Oxford (2009) among other visitorships. She has received an AHRC Networks and Workshops Grant (2008) and an AHRC Research Leave Award (2009). In 2012, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize from the Leverhulme Trust.

Her work focuses on practical reason theory, human rights, conscience and conscientious disobedience, ideals and virtue, philosophy of punishment, and restorative justice.


Monday 28 September 2015 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm)

John GardnerJohn Gardner (Oxford) - "The Many Faces of the Reasonable Person"

John Gardner FBA is Professor of Jurisprudence and a Fellow of University College. He was formerly Reader in Legal Philosophy at King's College London (1996-2000), Fellow and Tutor in Law at Brasenose College, Oxford (1991-6) and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford (1986-91). He has also held visiting positions at Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Texas, Princeton University, the Australian National University and the University of Auckland. He serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals including the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Legal Theory, Law and Philosophy, and The Journal of Moral Philosophy. Called to the Bar in 1988, he has been a Bencher of the Inner Temple since 2002 (although he does not practice).


Tuesday 13 October 2015 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm)

Sherry F. ColbSherry Colb (Cornell) - "Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights"

Sherry F. Colb earned an A.B. from Columbia College (Valedictorian) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She clerked for Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court. She was a member of the Rutgers University School of Law faculty in Newark when she joined the Cornell faculty and has also held the position of Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and Columbia Law School.

Her research and teaching interests center on issues of constitutional criminal procedure (especially the Fourth Amendment), animal rights, sexual equality, and evidence.


Michael C. DorfMichael Dorf (Cornell)

Michael C. Dorf has written over seventy-five scholarly articles and essays on constitutional law and related subjects. Professor Dorf writes a bi-weekly column for Justia's web magazine Verdict and posts several times per week on his blog, Dorf on Law.

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he spent the year between college and law school as a Rotary Scholar at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. After law school, Professor Dorf served as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States.

His work as a paid lawyer has included a constitutional challenge to NAFTA in the D.C. Circuit and he maintains an active pro bono practice that includes the writing of amicus briefs in Supreme Court cases. Before joining the Cornell faculty, Professor Dorf taught at Rutgers-Camden Law School for three years and at Columbia Law School for thirteen years. At Columbia, he was Vice Dean from 1998-2002 and when he left, was the Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law.

Monday 26 October 2015 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm)

David MillerDavid Miller (Oxford) - "The Duty to Rescue Boat People"

David Miller was initially trained in philosophy at Selwyn College, Cambridge and in politics at Balliol College, Oxford, and after spells teaching at the Universities of Lancaster and East Anglia, he was appointed to his present post at Nuffield College in 1979. He is affiliated to the University’s Department of Politics and International Relations, and to the Faculty of Philosophy, and between 2012-2014, will be on partial secondment to the Blavatnik School of Government to co-ordinate the Foundations component of the Master of Public Philosophy course.

What is perhaps most distinctive about Miller’s work is its use of evidence from the social sciences to inform debates in political philosophy. His longest standing interest is in the idea of justice, originally social justice but now also global justice.

Monday 9 November 2015 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm)

John OberdiekJohn Oberdiek (Rutgers) - "Putting (and Keeping) Proximate Cause in its Place"

John Oberdiek became Acting Dean for a two-year term in July 2014 after serving two years as Vice Dean.

Dean Oberdiek writes and teaches in torts and tort theory, regulation and its theoretical foundations, and legal, political, and moral philosophy. He is a graduate of Middlebury College, and studied philosophy and law as a post-graduate at Oxford, NYU, from which he holds an MA, and the University of Pennsylvania, which granted him his JD and PhD through its dual-degree fellowship program. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2004, he practiced law at the Washington, D.C. firm of Arnold & Porter.

Dean Oberdiek has presented his work widely in colloquia, including at Yale, Penn, and Toronto, and at major conferences, including Kings College London's Moral Values and Private Law conference, The New Private Law conference at Harvard, Northwestern's Ethics and Politics conference, and the Analytic Legal Philosophy Conference, held at Yale.

Monday 23 November 2015 (Watson Hall, room 517, 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm)

Thomas ChristianoThomas Christiano (Arizona) - "The Arbitrary Circumscription of the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court"

Thomas Christiano is a philosopher at the University of Arizona. He writes books and articles on moral and political philosophy and regularly teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses. Christiano's current research is mainly in moral and political philosophy with emphases on democratic theory, distributive justice and global justice.

He is currently organizing an interdisciplinary workshop on Global Society and Justice.

Course Requirements

Students enrolled in the Colloquium also meet separately with Professors Thomas and Webber for an additional two-hour seminar on alternate Mondays. Part of the seminar is devoted to a review of the preceding week’s Colloquium discussion and the greater part is devoted to preparation for the following week’s Colloquium workshop. Students are asked to write short papers weekly and a final term paper, in addition to being active participants during the seminars and workshops.


Students Interested in Applying for Credit

Admission to the seminar is by application to the student’s department. Students wishing to take the Colloquium for credit may express their interest to Professors Thomas and Webber (Law), Professor Christine Sypnowich (Philosophy), or Professor Margaret Moore (Political Studies). A call for applications will be circulated in the Faculty of Law in the Winter term and in the Departments of Philosophy and of Political Studies in the summer.