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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Seminar - Liberalism and Community Revisited

4th February 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study, Dr Michael Sevel (University of Sydney)


Liberalism, as a theory about the justification of political action and institutions, has been traditionally focused on the relationship between individual freedom and the state.Over the last thirty years, however, it has been informed by a more nuanced understanding of the role of culture and community in human flourishing.In light of this, the question arises how to justify public (and more specifically legal) authorities in a multicultural society.A popular strategy in the last half century is the ‘public reason’ approach – political justification consists in reasons we can all share, reasons which are reasonably acceptable to all.But there has been recent and intense criticism of that approach.If there are no ‘public reasons’, what then?Are legitimate laws and authorities possible in a pluralistic society?How?Dr Sevel’s book project focuses on the approach to these issues of Oxford philosopher Joseph Raz, who argues for a version of liberalism which include the ideas that there are multiple, incompatible and valuable ways of life that can be realized only within a cultural milieu, and that legitimate political authority are justified across cultures by way of a particular sort of appeal to reason.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues or students interested in attending a seminar should register online in advance to reserve a place. Places will be confirmed within 48 hours of receipt (subject to availability). Alternatively please contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

Contact for more information about this event.