[SydPhil] IDHR Book Symposium - Jennifer Nedelsky, Law's Relations

Allison Weir Allison.Weir at uws.edu.au
Thu Nov 14 09:38:45 AEDT 2013

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Institute for Democracy and Human Rights

 Book Symposium - Professor Jennifer Nedelsky (University of Toronto)

Law's Relations: A Relational Theory of Self, Autonomy and Law (Oxford 2012)

Friday November 15 12:30-2:30pm

University of Sydney
RC Mills Building
Room 148

Prof. Moira Gatens (Sydney)
Prof. Kevin Walton (Sydney)
A/Prof. Allison Weir (UWS)
Prof. Jennifer Nedelsky (University of Toronto)

Autonomy is one of the core concepts of legal and political thought, yet also one of the least understood. The prevailing theory of liberal individualism characterizes autonomy as independence, yet from a social perspective, this conception is glaringly inadequate. In this brilliantly innovative work, Jennifer Nedelsky claims that we must rethink our notion of autonomy, rejecting the usual vocabulary of control, boundaries, and individual rights. If we understand that we are fundamentally in relation to others, she argues, we will recognize that we become autonomous with others—with parents, teachers, employers, and the state. We should not therefore regard autonomy as merely a conceptual tool for assigning rights, but as a capacity that can be fostered or undermined throughout one's life through the relationships and the societal structures we inhabit. The political project thus should not only be to protect the individual from the state and keep the state out, but to use law to construct relations with the state that enhance autonomy. Law's Relations includes many concrete legal applications of her theory of relational autonomy, offering new insights into the debates over due process, judicial review, violence against women, and private versus public law.

Law's Relations was awarded the CB MacPherson Prize 2012.

Jennifer Nedelsky is Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Toronto.
Her publications include Private Property and the Limits of American Constitutionalism: The Madisonian Framework and its Legacy (University of Chicago Press) and Judgment, Imagination and Politics: Themes from Kant and Arendt [co-edited with Ronald Beiner] (Rowman and Littlefield), as well as numerous articles on rights, constitutionalism, and judgment in legal, political,and feminist theory.


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