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HLA Hart Memorial Lecture 2024

Black woman wearing suit jacket and white shirt with open collar smiling at cameraThe 38th HLA Hart Memorial Lecture took place on 16 May in the College Chapel. The lecture was given by Professor Anita L Allen, Henry R Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and this year’s HLA Hart-JH Mance Visiting Fellow. Professor Allen gave a thought-provoking lecture titled, “Unconditional Love, Some Implications for the Law.

In her lecture, Professor Allen pointed out that certain aspects of the law – such as spousal privilege in testimony, parents’ obligations to support adult children, abortion laws, and lenient prison visitation policies – are better understood as reflecting hidden norms of unconditional love. The lecture inspired a discussion with questions about whether unconditional love is the best explanation for these legal features, whether the law should support unconditional love (which could lead to dystopian scenarios like in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale), and whether laws related to death and dying might offer stronger support for her argument.

You can view a recording of the lecture below:

The lecture attracted over 100 attendees from various academic departments at Oxford and as far away as Rome and Kansas.

Published: 22 May 2024

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