UCL Faculty of Laws


What is a moral obligation to obey the law?

13 January 2017, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

Laws Thinker

Event Information

Open to



UCL Faculty of Laws


UCL Garden Room, Wilkins Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Speaker: Dr Kevin Walton (Sydney Law School)
Chair: Paul Troop (UCL Laws)

About the talk

Before one can know whether there is a moral obligation to obey the law, one must know what a moral obligation to obey the law is. Only if one knows what it is can one know whether an argument for it succeeds. Philosophers ascribe properties such as “content-independence” and “particularity” to it. In doing so, they specify conditions that an argument for it must satisfy. But must it have these properties? Must an argument satisfy these conditions? To answer, one must think about what follows from a moral obligation to obey the law being: (i) a moral obligation; (ii) a species of political obligation; (iii) a matter of obedience; and (iv) a matter of obedience to the law. Dr Walton tries to do a bit of this thinking here.

An outline of the talk is here: What is a Moral Obligation to Obey the Law?

About the speaker

Kevin Walton is Senior Lecturer Sydney Law School, as well as Director of the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence and Vice President of the Australian Society of Legal Philosophy. His research examines methodological issues in legal philosophy as well as questions about the moral obligations associated with citizenship, with his recent work focussing on the nature of political obligations.