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Kate Greasley (University of Oxford): ‘Using Law to Improve Morality’

30 April, 2:00 pm3:30 pm

Abstract: Leslie Green argues that law can be an efficacious and warranted means of improving social morality and bringing it better into line with critical (i.e. ideal or correct) morality. Social sexual morality is a key site, he says, where the law can work to effect positive change. This paper, a contribution to a festschrift for Green, further takes up the question of when and how the law can legitimately use its power to improve social sexual morality. I first specify some obvious candidates for improvement by law. Next, I contemplate one putatively distinct reason for the law to prescind from interfering with sexual morality beyond certain limits, having to do with the importance of authenticity and self-expression for the value of sexual intimacy. I argue that law is nonetheless justified in using its power to change some sexual mores for the better, and that law’s interference could even enhance sexual freedom and authenticity in some domains. The paper ends with some rough remarks about legal efforts to improve consent communication norms through use of affirmative consent rules.

Kate Greasley has been an Associate Professor of Law and Tutorial Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford, since 2018. Prior to this, she was a Lecturer in Law at University College London, and a Junior Research Fellow in Law at University College, Oxford. She completed her doctorate about the law and ethics of abortion at the University of Oxford in 2014, supervised by Professor Leslie Green. Kate’s research interests span medical law and ethics, criminal law theory, feminist legal theory, and legal philosophy more broadly. To date, the topics she has written about include abortion ethics, assisted dying, property rights in human body parts, sexual offences, and pornography and free speech.

This event will take place in person on LSE’s campus. However, those unable to attend in person will have the option of taking part online.

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Please note that these events are routinely recorded, with the edited footage being made publicly available on our website and YouTube channel. We will only record the audio, the slides and the speaker and will not include the Q&A section. However, any question asked during the talk itself will feature in the final edit.



30 April
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Event Category:


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