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School of Law

CLSGC Workshop 'The Normativity of Law: Metaethical and Metaphysical Foundations'

7 May 2019

Time: 1:00 - 5:30pm
Venue: Room 313, Third Floor, Law Building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS

This is a CLSGC event, organised and chaired by Dr Noam Gur, Queen Mary University of London.


Law’s normative force—and, in particular, its capacity to give reasons for action—forms a central theme in the contemporary jurisprudential debate. This workshop takes a close look at some of the assumptions underlying the discourse on this topic, which have often been left unstated or undiscussed.

Has past jurisprudential discourse on this topic proceeded on any one metaethical outlook, and, if so, which? Has it proceeded on any one understanding of the concept of reasons? Do different metaethical outlooks (or concepts of reasons) yield different conclusions about law’s normativity (or reason-giving force)? What is the role of habits in an adequate account of law’s normativity? What normative status do social conventions have, and what can be learnt from that about legal normativity? These are some of the questions this workshop aims to explore by bringing together four specialists who will be offering fresh perspectives on the topic.    


  • Sylvie Delacroix, Professor in Law and Ethics, University of Birmingham, and Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute
  • David Owens, Professor of Philosophy, Kings College London
  • Shivprasad Swaminathan, Professor and Executive Director, Centre on Public Law and Jurisprudence, Jindal Global University, India
  • Jean Thomas, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario


1.00–1.10: Noam Gur, Introduction

1.10–2.10: Sylvie Delacroix – ‘Habitual Agency and Legal Normativity’ – presentation and Q&A

2.10–3.10: David Owens – ‘Conventional Agency’ – presentation and Q&A

3.10–3.30: Break

3.30–4.30: Shivprasad Swaminathan – ‘Recalibrating Legal Normativity’ – presentation and Q&A

4.30–5.30: Jean Thomas – ‘A Social Account of Legal Normativity’ – presentation and Q&A

5.30: Drinks reception


For directions to the venue, please refer to the map.


For more information on this event, please email

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