[SydPhil] Invitation: USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Ed Upfold @ Tue 21 May 2013 15:00 - 16:30 (sydphil at arts.usyd.edu.au)

Simon Varey simonvarey at gmail.com
Thu May 16 22:15:12 AEST 2013

You have been invited to the following event.

Title: USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Ed Upfold
USyd Postgrad Work in Progress Talk: Ed Upfold

I am a Number, and a Free Man: Statistical People in Law

Justice demands, among other things, that a person's treatment under the  
law is determined by their specific situation; I am to be punished only for  
crimes that I committed, liable only for damages that I have caused, bound  
only by the contracts I have accepted and so forth. Unfortunately it is a  
matter of practical fact that this is not always achievable: there are  
simply too many people for most modern legal institutions to have a genuine  
idea of what each one is due under the law. Thus some measure of  
generalisation or statistical abstraction becomes necessary. The central  
question of this paper, then is: how far can such generalisation go while  
still remaining acceptably in the "penumbra" of justice? Alternatively: how  
seriously must the law take individual personhood?

I will look at two cases where this has become an issue: the legendarily  
terrible People v Collins (and the vast literature it spawned) and a series  
of comparatively recent constitutional kerfuffles in Germany relating to  
expanding police search powers. From these, I hope to show that there is an  
overreaction against depersonalisation in the law - that such cases  
acknowledge a very real threat but see it much closer than it really is. In  
fact, in doing so they cause more harm than good, by blinding us to the  
advantages of generalised law.
When: Tue 21 May 2013 15:00 – 16:30 Eastern Time - Melbourne, Sydney
Where: Philosophy Common Room, Main Quad, University of Sydney
Calendar: sydphil at arts.usyd.edu.au
     * simonvarey at gmail.com- creator
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