‘The Rule of Law in a Messy World: Limits, Limitations, and Challenges’
Presented by Professor Emeritus Gerald J. Postema
The 2023 Sir George Turner Lecture
In his book, Law’s Rule, Professor Postema argues the rule of law aims to temper power and protect against power’s potential for arbitrary exercise. This profoundly important ideal serves an even more fundamental set of interrelated ideals - community, equality, and freedom from domination. The rule of law can only flourish when a community-wide ethos of fidelity supports it. Yet, law must resist capture by its enemies and rule in a world of entangled legal orders and competing moral values. While outlining and defending his conception of the rule of law, Professor Postema will explore challenges posed by law’s task of ruling in a ‘messy’ world.
Professor Emeritus Gerald J. Postema
Prof. Gerald J. Postema is Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law, Emeritus, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he taught philosophy and law from 1980 until his retirement in 2019. He studied at Calvin College (BA, 1970), Oxford University, and Cornell University (PhD, 1976). He taught philosophy at Johns Hopkins University from 1975-1980 and held visiting positions at Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley. On October 24, 2016, he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Athens, Greece. Earlier (2013-14) he served as Arthur L. Goodhart Distinguished Visiting Professor of Legal Science (Cambridge University) and Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
In 2012 he was named Honorary Professor, at Zhengzhou University Law School, Zhengzhou, China. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow, Rockefeller Fellow (Bellagio), Fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies, and Medlin Fellow (National Humanities Center); he was a Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute (Florence) and at the Research School of the Social Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. In 2014, he delivered the prestigious Boutwood Lecture at the University of Cambridge, the Leon Petrazycki Lecture at the University of Warsaw in 2015, and the Bloustein Lecture at Rutgers University in 2023.
The Sir George Turner Lecture
Is an annual lecture series named in honour of Australian politician Sir George Turner (1851-1916). Sir George was admitted to practice in 1881. He was Mayor of St Kilda from 1887 to 1888, elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1889 and became Solicitor-General for Victoria in 1892. In 1894 he became Premier of Victoria. The lecture series was established by Turner’s daughter Grace Melvin Turner upon her passing in 1959.