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A Critique of Raz's New Theory of Legality

Date&Time: March 23 (Thursday) 12:15 PM-1:30 PM (Beijing Time)

Speaker: Prof. Xiaobo ZHAI, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Macau

Moderator: Prof. Norman P. Ho, Peking University School of Transnational Law


Zoom Meeting ID and Passcode (for remote participants): 842 8906 8745 (Passcode: 793798)

Language: English

Lecture Summary: In 1977, Joseph Raz published a ground-breaking article ‘The Rule of Law and its Virtue’, which has since become perhaps the most influential work on the doctrine of legality. In 2018, Raz delivered his Tang Prize lecture ‘Law’s Own Virtue’, which was later published in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, and in which Raz states that ‘[I] offer a new account of the rule of law, revising my previous view …’ This talk has three tasks. First, it will present and compare the major claims and arguments in these two articles written four decades apart, highlighting the changes and continuities between them. Second, it will argue that the changes are so substantial that that his 2018 article contains a new theory of the rule of law. Finally, it will evaluate and criticize some of Raz’s new claims, and identify the directions of further development.

Bio: Xiaobo Zhai is Associate Professor at the University of Macau. His research interests include legal philosophy, Bentham studies, and constitutional theory. His publications have appeared in Law and Philosophy, The Journal of Legal History, and International Journal of Constitutional Law. He has co-edited and contributed to Bentham on Democracy, Courts, and Codification (with Philip Schofield, Cambridge, 2022), Bentham Around the World (with Simon Palmer, Talbot, 2021), and Bentham's Theory of Law and Public Opinion (with Michael Quinn, Cambridge, 2014).

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