Professorial Lecture: Law, Philosophy, and the Susceptible Skins of Living Beings

Event date
1 November 2024
Event time
17:00 - 18:30
Oxford week
MT 3
The Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre


Catherine the Great (apparently) wrote to the French philosopher Diderot something along the lines of: “You philosophers are fortunate. You write on paper, and paper is patient. Unfortunate emperor that I am, I write on the susceptible skins of living beings.” Catherine expressed, I think, an important insight, that is true of the law as well: the law writes on the susceptible skins of living beings.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that we should not philosophize about the law, or that we should not take advantage of the benefits of having patient paper to write on. But as we do so, we should philosophize about the law all the time fully realizing that the law itself does not write on patient paper, but on the susceptible skins of living beings. This has important implications to how we should – and how we should not – do philosophy of law. This talk elaborates on these implications – both in general, and using more specific examples.


The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.


Biography: David Enoch

A man facing the camera with very short hair, wearing glasses and a black top

David Enoch does primarily moral, political, and legal philosophy. He studied law and philosophy at Tel Aviv University, then clerked for Justice Beinisch at the Israeli Supreme Court. He pursued a PhD in philosophy at NYU (2003), and has been a faculty member at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem ever since, on a joint appointment in philosophy and law. He started at Oxford as the Professor of the Philosophy of Law in 2023. 

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