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Kadish Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory: Daniel Lee, UC Berkeley

Friday, September 22, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Kadish Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory welcomes Daniel Lee, UC Berkeley, who will be discussing his paper “The Groatian Rights Revolutions.”

Daniel Lee is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a specialist in political theory and the history of political thought and studies how the techniques of legal reasoning in the legal science of Roman and canon law have shaped the core concepts of modern political science – sovereignty, statehood, citizenship, and rights. Professor Lee is the author of two books: Popular Sovereignty in Early Modern Constitutional Thought (Oxford, 2016) and The Right of Sovereignty: Jean Bodin on the Sovereign State and the Law of Nations (Oxford, 2021). He is currently completing a new title, Divisions of Law (also for Oxford University Press), and now beginning a new project called The Science of Right, an intellectual history of jurisprudence and deontic logic from Grotius to Hohfeld. Before joining the Berkeley faculty in 2015, Professor Lee taught political theory at the University of Toronto and Columbia University.  

Paper Abstract:

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) holds a place of honor in the modern history of rights. In this paper, I’ll explore why he remains so prominent in this history, and that is what I call ‘the Grotian rights revolution.’ This ‘rights revolution’ consisted of three parts – (1) the sudden shift from strict ‘remedies’ to elastic ‘rights’ in early-modern legal and moral science; (2) the proto-Hohfeldian distinction between permissive liberty-right [jus], strict claim-right [jus stricte dictum], and legal powers [potestas]; (3) the recognition that claims of merit [which Grotius variously rendered as dignitas; waerdigheid; αξία] are ‘imperfect’ rights that can burden others and even require them to perform virtuous acts of charity, as correlative ‘imperfect’ duties. While Grotius originally developed his theory of rights to craft a so-called ‘legal right to wage war’ – or a jus ad bellum – as a means to get what is one’s due, Grotius imagined rights, in general, as artifacts of the transactional and adversarial culture of litigation in a Roman court. That litigious culture is, in my view, remains encoded in the genetics of modern liberal politics.

About the Workshop:

This course is a workshop for discussing works in progress in moral, political, and legal theory. The workshop creates a space for students to engage directly with philosophers, political theorists, and legal scholars working on normative questions toward the goal of fostering critical thinking about concepts of value and developing analytical thinking and writing skills. Another aim is to bring together people from different disciplines and perspectives who have strong normative interests or who speak to issues philosophers and theorists should know something about.


The theme for the Fall 2023 workshop is “Current Work on the History of Political, Legal, and Moral Philosophy.”


141 Law Building


Kadish Center for Morality, Law & Public Affairs

Events are wheelchair accessible. For disability-related accommodations, contact the organizer of the event. Advance notice is kindly requested.

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