St. Hilda's College is pleased to invite you to an interdisciplinary seminar on law and philosophy to be held in week 7, Trinity Term.

The discussion will focus on a yet to be published paper on law and morality by Dr Giovanni Battista Ratti (Lecturer in Legal Philosophy, University of Genoa, Italy). An abstract of the paper is provided below.

The seminar is open to everyone and students are particularly welcome.


The identification of law (as a set of legal norms) and the analysis of the relations between law and morality (as normative systems) are two crucial and intertwined problems in legal philosophy. The paper explores how some basic contributions from logic – in particular, some elementary notions of set theory, such as “inclusion”, “intersection”, “union”, and “difference” – can provide a new analytical perspective on these two problems. The paper intends to demonstrate that a set-theory approach to legal theory can have two very fruitful results. At a general level, this approach can create the logical space in which to conduct a useful dialogue between legal theory, the social sciences and the humanities (especially philosophy). More specifically, this approach allows one to maintain the following propositions in relation to the two problems above. First, contrary to the received view, “law” does not denote a unitary set of rules, but rather a family of sets. Second, once the relations between law and morality are examined from both an extensional and intensional point of view, it is possible to conclude that only a positivistic definition of law can be justified.