Meet our JSD Students and Candidates

Hugo B. Lafreniere

Dissertation Title: Ethical Autonomy: A New Theory of Global Personal Autonomy

Doctoral Supervisor: Professor Jeremy Waldron


Hugo B. Lafreniere is a JSD Candidate at the NYU School of Law. His research is supported by a doctoral fellowship from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture. Hugo holds a Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.), Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.), and Minor in Philosophy from McGill University where he received the MacDonald Travelling Scholarship. At McGill, he was a student researcher at the Center for Intellectual Policy and the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law.

He also holds a Master of Laws in Legal Theory (LL.M.) from New York University where he received the John Bruce Moore Award in legal philosophy. His master’s thesis, titled “Liberal Integrity,” was supervised by Prof. Jeremy Waldron. It explores the possibility of developing a virtue-based theory of legal adjudication through critical engagement with the work of Ronald Dworkin.


Hugo’s research is at the intersection of moral, political, and legal philosophy. His doctoral dissertation asks the question: What do we mean by one’s “own life” when we say that autonomy requires each individual to exercise control over her own life. Through this question, Hugo explores how autonomy – which is traditionally used to support libertarian views of distributive justice – in fact requires a wide network of distributive policies going from luck egalitarianism to the minimization of imperfect information. His research on the subject has far-ranging implications for how we ought to think about the regulation of economic interactions operated by, among other things, labor and employment law, social law, and property law.