Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Philip PettitThe annual Cecil A. Wright Memorial Lecture marked its 50th anniversary with a talk on October 10, 2019 by Philip Pettit, L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University. The inaugural lecture had been given in 1969 by Prof J. Fleming (Univ of California).

Prof. Pettit's talk was titled “The Elusive Sovereign.” Does a conception of the law like H.L.A.Hart’s allow us to postulate a sovereign in the legal regime? Is it consistent with thinking that there is one supreme authority over the law? Or does his decentered model of the polity make no room for the idea of sovereignty? Does that model rule out the possibility of a legal sovereign in the way in which the early theorists of sovereignty such as Bodin and Hobbes thought that the mixed-constitutional model of the state ruled it out? Surprisingly, it turns out that despite the arguments of those theorists, and despite Hart’s own misgivings, the idea of sovereignty can find a natural home within a mixed or decentered set of legal arrangements.

Watch Prof. Pettit's lecture below.