Students and Faculty members are cordially invited to attend a legal philosophy seminar which will take place at University College (Swire Seminar Room) on Wednesday 24 May 2017.

Dr Kevin Toh will present a paper entitled, 'Law and Collectivity' and part of another related work in progress paper entitled, 'Legislation and Adjudication in Light of the Because Constraint'. The abstracts for both papers are provided below.

Dr Kevin Toh will present for about 40 minutes, starting at 5.00pm. His presentation will be followed by a Q & A introduced by Dr Nicos Stavropoulos.

The Q & A session will conclude around 6.30pm, but everyone is invited to stay for drinks until 7.00pm.

All are very welcome! For catering purposes please RSVP asap to

Speaker: Dr Kevin Toh (Senior Lecturer, UCL Faculty of Laws)

Discussant: Dr Nicos Stavropoulos (Associate Professor of Legal Theory, Oxford Law Faculty)

Law and Collectivity

Abstract: This paper sketches a way to deploy some resources from recent philosophical thinking about collective agency to address some longstanding problems in theorizing about the nature of law. One problem has to do with reconciling the conventional nature of law with the apparent possibility of legal judgments that consciously buck established legal trends. A second problem has to do with delineating the appropriate place of coercion in legal goings-on. In addressing these two problems, I argue that we should conceive legal judgments as aimed at instigating and maintaining shared acceptance of norms.

Legislation and Adjudication in Light of the Because Constraint

Abstract: If an act has some legal property – say, that of being constitutional, tortious, or contractually obligatory – it has some non-legal properties that make it have that legal property. And if we were to judge that an act has the relevant legal property, then we would be committed to thinking that it has some non-legal properties in virtue of which that legal property obtains. There are analogous constraints on moral and aesthetic judgments. In judging that the teenagers acted viciously, we are committed to thinking that their actions had some non-moral properties that make their actions vicious. And in judging that the singers’ duet was beautiful and moving, we are committed to thinking that there are non-aesthetic properties in virtue of which their singing was beautiful and moving. Let me call these constraints, consisting of the just-described relations between making of legal, moral, or aesthetic judgments on the one hand, and thinking that there are certain non-legal, non-moral, or non-aesthetic properties on the other “the Because Constraints”. We can learn much from considering such Because Constraints together. In fact, the case for studying together the Because Constraints for legal and aesthetic judgments is particularly strong given that both laws and art works are artifacts that we manufacture and interact with while implicitly observing the relevant Because Constraints. In this paper, I trace out some lessons about the natures of legislation and legal adjudication in light of the similarities and dissimilarities between the legal and aesthetic Because Constraints. In the process, I will also try to infer some lessons for jurisprudential methodology.