Colloquium in Legal, Political, and Social Philosophy

The Colloquium in Legal, Political, and Social Philosophy was founded by Ronald Dworkin and Thomas Nagel in 1987. It is the original model for all of NYU Law's colloquia. The Colloquium is now convened by Liam Murphy, Samuel Scheffler, and Jeremy Waldron, two of whom will host in any given year.

Each week on Thursday a legal theorist or moral or political philosopher presents a paper to the group, which consists of students, faculty from the Law School and other departments of NYU, and faculty from other universities. The choice of subject is left to the paper’s author, within the general boundaries of the Colloquium’s subjects, and the discussions are therefore not connected by any structured theme for the term as a whole, though in past years certain central topics were canvassed in several weeks’ discussion. The Colloquium aims, not to pursue any particular subject, but to explore new work in considerable depth and so allow students to develop their own skill in theoretical analysis.

Each week’s paper is posted at least a week in advance on this page, and participants are expected to have read it.

The public sessions of the colloquium will take place on Thursdays, in Lester Pollock Colloquium Room, Furman Hall, 9th floor,  from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.

Students applying for credit:

Admission to the seminar is only by the professor’s permission. Students wishing to take the colloquium for credit should send their applications via e-mail stating their background in Law and philosophy and their interest in the colloquium to Professors Waldron and Murphy, between July 1 and July 31.

Before you submit your application, if you are a non-law student, please check with Academic Services if you are eligible to apply. In your application, please mention if you are enrolled in an NYU program and use the subject line  Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy Application for Fall 2023.

Students enrolled in the Colloquium meet separately with Professors Waldron and Murphy for an additional two-hour seminar on Wednesdays. One hour is devoted to a review of the preceding Thursday’s Colloquium discussion, and one hour in preparation for the Colloquium of the following day. Students are asked to write short papers weekly, and each student is asked to make two or more oral presentations to the seminar during the term. Each student is asked to expand one of his/her weekly papers, or oral presentations, for a final term paper.

Colloquium 2023

Professors Jeremy Waldron and Liam Murphy

September 7th
Bonnie Honig, Brown University 
Fatal Forgiveness: Euripides, Austin, Arendt, Cavell

September 14th
Jeremy Waldron, NYU
Faces Of The Rule Of Law 

September 21st (Cancelled)
Alice Crary, The New School
Objectivity's politics

September 28th
David Enoch, University of Oxford & The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Nudging and Autonomy

October 5th
Gina Schouten, Harvard University
Liberalism, Culture, And The Subject Matter Of Justice

October 12th
Daryl Levinson, NYU
Personal Morality and Political Justice

October 19th
Barbara Levenbook, North Carolina State University
Beyond Legislative Intent

October 26th
Rob Howse, NYU
Necessary Justice: “Political” Trialsand the Tradition of Political Philosophy 

November 2nd
Sibylle Fischer, NYU
The General Condition of Equality”: Rights in Revolution (Saint Domingue/Haiti)

November 9th
John Goldberg, Harvard University
More than A Law of Rules 

November 16th
Courtney Cox, Fordham University

November 30th
Juliana Bidadanure, NYU
Understanding Demonization

Colloquium 2022

Professors Jeremy Waldron and Samuel Scheffler

September 8th
Brian Leiter, University of Chicago

Chapters on Marx in the Routledge Philosophers Series

September 15th
Sophia Moreau, University of Toronto

Morality and Role Obligations (PDF: 296KB ) 

September 22nd
Zofia Stemplowska, Oxford University

For Whom the Bell Tolls? Salient Commemoration (PDF: 526 KB)

September 29th
Helene Landemore, Yale University

Can AI bring deliberative democracy to the masses (PDF: 312 KB)

October 6th
David Miller, Oxford University

Compensation for Historic Injustice (PDF: 698 KB)

October 13th
Sharon Street, NYU

On Recognizing Oneself in Others 

October 20th
Philip Kitcher, Columbia University

Progressive Valuation (PDF:450 KB)

October 27th
Ryan Pevnick, NYU

The Epistemic Appeal of Representative Democracy (PDF:400 KB)  

November 3rd
David Dyzenhaus, University of Toronto

The Legal Experience of Injustice (PDF:267KB)

November 10th
Brandon Terry, Harvard University

Irony and the Politics of Pessimism in African American History and Philosophy (PDF: 644 KB)

November 17th 
Sarah Song, University of California at Berkeley

Immigrant Legalization (PDF: 406 KB)

December 1st
Josh Cohen, Apple University, University of California at Berkeley

Reflections on Democracy’s Fragility (PDF: 1216KB)


Colloquium 2021

Professors Liam Murphy and Samuel Scheffler

September 2nd
Kim Ferzan, University of Pennsylvania, Law

Rethinking Credit for Time Served

September 9th
Liam Murphy, NYU

International Responsibility for Global Environment Harm: Collective and Individual

September 17th ( Friday 2.00-5.00)
Moshe Halbertal, NYU

On Being Human

September 23rd
Jeff McMahan, Oxford

"It Might Have Been!": What Matters in Alternative Possible Lives

September 30th
Emma Kaufman, NYU Law

Territoriality in American Criminal Law

October 7th
Rick Pildes, NYU Law

Political Fragmentation in Democracies of the West

October 14th
Samuel Scheffler, NYU

The Lives We Lead
Lecture 1 - Against Temporal Neutrality : The Significance of Future Bias
Lecture 2 - Against Personal Neutrality: The Significance of Partiality

October 21st
Steve Darwall, Yale, Philosophy

Why Obligations Can' Be Relational (Bipolar) All The Way Down

Below are two papers that might provide useful background:

Bipolar Obligation

What Are Moral Reasons?

October 28th
Chris Kutz, University of California, Berkeley, Law

The Improvisational Public

November 4th
Anthony Appiah, NYU

Pandemic Lessons: The Philosophy of Work and the Modularity of Professional Ethics

November 11th
Johann Frick, University of California, Berkeley, Philosophy

Dilemmas, Luck, and the Two Faces of Morality

November 18th
Teresa Bejan, Oxford

Peers and Equals

December 2nd
Ruth Chang, Oxford

Are Hard Cases Vague Cases?



FALL 2020

Professors Jeremy Waldron and Liam Murphy

Schedule of Speakers

September 3
Samuel Scheffler, NYU

Procreation, Immigration, and the Future of Humanity

September 10th 
Aditi Bagchi, Fordham 

Moral Collective Action Problems and the Timing of Legal Rules

September 17th
Lewis Kornhauser, NYU

An Achievement Concept of Law

September 24th
Tommie Shelby, Harvard

Functional Critiques of Prisons

October 1st
Jeremy Waldron, NYU

What Demonstrations Mean 

October 8th
Rebecca Stone,  UCLA

Normative Uncertainty, Normative Powers, and Limits on Freedom of Contract

October 15th
Andrei Marmor, Cornell

Rationalizing Practices and the Hermeneutic Challenge

October 22nd
Richard Fallon, Harvard

The Chimerical Concept of Original Public Meaning

October 29th
Katja  Vogt, Columbia

Law and the Metaethics of Discord

November 5th
Liam Murphy, NYU

Nonlegislative Justification: Against Legalist Moral Theory

November 12th
Frances Kamm, Rutgers

Torture: Rescue, Prevention, and Punishment

November 19th 
Sally Haslanger,  MIT

Political Epistemology and Social Critique

December 3rd
David Estlund, Brown University

What's Unjust about  Structural Injustice?


FALL 2019

SPECIAL“POP-UP” session on Thursday, October 17 from 4-7 p.m.

Faculty Library, Vanderbilt Hall, 3rd floor

Although the Colloquium on Legal, Political, and Social Philosophy is on hiatus this year, it will convene a special “pop-up” session on Thursday, October 17 from 4-7 p.m. in the Faculty Library on the third floor of Vanderbilt Hall.  

Professor Joseph Raz, who has long been an important member of the Colloquium community, will present a paper on this occasion, which marks the end of many years during which he has taught regularly at Columbia Law School each fall. 

The paper is called Normative Powers.


Fall 2018

Professors Jeremy Waldron and Samuel Scheffler

Schedule of Speakers

September 6              
Eric Beerbohm, Harvard

Gaslighting Citizens

September 13
Rick Brooks, NYU

Loyalty and What Law Demands: Self Interest, Sole Interest or Best Interest

September 20
Jan-Werner Mueller, Princeton 

Individual Militant Democracy

Paper removered at the request of the author. 

September 27
Antony Duff, University of Minnesota

Criminal Law and the Constitution of Civil Order

October 4
Veronique Munoz-Darde, UC Berkeley

The Priest, the Liberal and the Harlot: Liberalism and Sexual Desire

October 11                
Liam Murphy, NYU

Purely Formal Wrongs

October 18                
Michele Moody-Adams, Columbia University

Taking Expression Seriously: Equal Citizenship, Expressive Harm
and Confederate Iconography

October 25                
Meir Dan-Cohen, UC Berkeley

On the (Im)morality of the Death Penalty

November 1              
Amia Srinivasan, University of Oxford

On Genealogy
Paper removed at the request of the author

November 8              
Melissa Schwartzberg, NYU

Sheep May Safely Graze: On the Instrumental Justification of Democracy

November 15
Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago

Other Animals Respecting Complex Forms of Life

November 29
Tom Nagel, NYU

Paper removed at the request of the author.

December 6               
Nancy Fraser, The New School

Democracy’s Crisis:

On the Political Contradictions of Financialized Capitalism


Fall 2017

Professors Liam Murphy and Samuel Scheffler

Schedule of Speakers

The Conference for the Colloquium, September 7 and 8

Funded by the research project grant awarded to the late Ronald Dworkin as part of his 2014 Balzan Prize, the conference celebrates Ronald Dworkin’s work by celebrating the Colloquium in Legal, Political, and Social Philosophy, which he convened with Thomas Nagel from 1987 to 2011, joined in the early years by Lawrence Sager and David Richards.

The conference will comprise four modified colloquium sessions.  The papers will be posted on this page two weeks in advance. Each session will last for two hours, and there will be just one interlocutor for the guest speaker in each session. Our four distinguished speakers all presented at the colloquium during the Dworkin/Nagel years. We are happy to have, as a guest interlocutor, our former colleague Lawrence Sager. The first session of the conference will take place in the traditional Thursday afternoon colloquium time slot.  All sessions will take place in the traditional colloquium room.

September 7

4:00 – 4:30  Welcome by Dean Trevor Morrison and acknowledgements

4:30 – 6:30  Session One

Thomas M. Scanlon (Harvard)

Contractualism and Justification

Commentator: Samuel Scheffler (NYU)
Chair: Liam Murphy (NYU)

September 8

10:00 – 12:00  Session Two

Frank Michelman (Harvard)

Rawls’s Constitution-Centered Propositions on Legitimacy: A Friendly Interrogation

Commentator: Lawrence Sager (University of Texas, Austin)
Chair: Lewis Kornhauser (NYU)

12:00 – 2:00  Lunch

2:00 – 4:00   Session Three

Seana Shiffrin (UCLA)

Democratic Law

Commentator: Liam Murphy (NYU)
Chair: Jeremy Waldron (NYU)

4:00 – 5:00 Break

5:00 - 7:00  Session Four

Joseph Raz (King’s College London and Columbia)

Can Moral Principles Change?

Commentator: Jeremy Waldron (NYU)
Chair: Samuel Scheffler


September 14
Daniel Viehoff, NYU

Legitimately Arresting the Innocent, and Other Puzzles about Officially

Inflicted Harm

September 28
Grainne de Burca, NYU

Is Supranational Governance a challenge to Liberal Constitutionalism?

October 5 
Samuel Freeman, University of Pennsylvania

Individual Freedom and Laissez-Faire Rights and Liberties

October 12
Jerry Gaus, Arizona University

The Complexity of a Diverse Moral Order

October 19
Robert Gooding –Williams, Columbia University

Ideology, Social Practices, Anti-Black Concepts

October 26
Susan Wolf, University of North Carolina

First reading:  Aesthetic Responsibility

Second reading: Selves Like Us

November 2nd 
Ekow Yankah, Cardozo University

The Sovereign and the Republic: A Republican View of Political Obligation

November 9 
David Luban, Georgetown University

Arendt at Jerusalem

November 16
Laura Valentini, London School of Economics

There Are No Natural Rights

November 30
Juliana Bidadanure, Stanford University

Justice Across Ages: Treating Young and Old as Equals

December 7
Debra Satz, Stanford University

 Equality and Adequacy as Distributive Ideals for Education



Past papers

Fall 2016
Fall 2015
Fall 2014
Fall 2011
Fall 2010
Fall 2009
Fall 2007
Fall 2006
Fall 2005
Fall 2003
Fall 2002
Fall 2001