Northwestern Events Calendar


Professor Jeremy Waldron (NYU Law), "Locke and the Pragmatics of Legitimism"

When: Friday, January 21, 2022
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Amanda Fu  

Group: Political Theory Colloquium

Co-Sponsor: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join us for the first Political Theory Colloquium of Winter 2022 from 2-3:30pm CST, on Jan 21. Professor Jeremy Waldron (University Professor and Professor of Law, New York University) will present his paper "Locke and the Pragmatics of Legitimism." 


In the First Treatise, Locke caps his argument against Filmer’s theory of the divine right of kings, with a devastating pragmatic argument against almost any form of legitimism. “ ‘Tis in vain … to talk of Subjection and Obedience, without telling us whom we are to obey.” Filmer can talk all he likes about legitimate lines of descent from Adam, but since nobody agrees now who actually is Adam’s rightful heir, there is no point supposing that God has laid down a legitimist duty of obedience.  In this paper, I consider this pragmatic argument and explore its possible application elsewhere in political theory.

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor at NYU School of Law and teaches legal and political philosophy. Until 2014, he was also Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University (All Souls College). He was also University Professor in the School of Law at Columbia University. A prolific scholar, Waldron has written extensively on jurisprudence and political theory, including numerous books and articles on theories of rights, constitutionalism, the rule of law, democracy, property, torture, security, homelessness, and the philosophy of international law. His books include Dignity, Rank, and Rights (2012), Partly Laws Common to All Mankind: Foreign Law in American Courts (2012), The Harm of Hate Speech (2012), Torture, Terror, and Trade-offs: Philosophy for the White House (2010), Law and Disagreement (1999), and The Dignity of Legislation (1999).

The meeting will be hosted on Zoom. Please register below.

The manuscript of Professor Waldron's paper can be found at

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