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Law and Humanities Seminar Series: Are Duties Burdens?

Date&Time: September 21, 2023 (Thursday), 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM (Beijing Time)

Speaker: Prof. James Penner, Kwa Geok Choo Professor of Property Law,National University of Singapore

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

Zoom Meeting ID and Passcode814 5935 9584;Passcode: 337814

Language: English

Lecture Summary: In this seminar I shall examine two, what might be called, ‘philosophical sensibilities’ about the nature of duties. As will become clear, I do not share one of those sensibilities, so part of the paper will be a criticism of the grounds for that sensibility. The other part amounts to a preliminary investigation of the sensibility I shall endorse. These two sensibilities can roughly be framed as follows: the first regards any duty as a limitation upon the freedom of the duty bearer, and so necessarily constitutes a kind of burden that she must bear. In some versions, this is bolstered by the idea that the constraint the duty imposes impinges upon the duty bearer’s moral agency, taking part of it away in so far as she is compelled to perform the act or omission the duty requires. The alternative view, which I shall endorse, is that to the extent that the duty is rightly imposed, performing what the duty requires serves the interests of, and thus benefits, the duty bearer as much, or perhaps more, that the correlativeright bearer.

Speaker's Bio: James Penner (B.Sc (Genetics) University of Western Ontario (1985), LLB University of Toronto (1988), DPhil Oxford (1992)) is Kwa Geok Choo Professor of Property Law at the University of Singapore, which he joined in 2013. He formerly taught at Brunel University, the London School of Economics, King’s College London, and University College London. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the philosophy of property and the law of trusts, and writes more widely in the areas of private law and the philosophy of law. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Alberta, the University of Queensland, Queen’s University (Canada), Jilin University, the Catholic University of Leuven, the University of Toronto and Harvard University.

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