UCL Faculty of Laws


Theorising Racial Justice

23 March 2021, 4:00 pm–6:00 pm

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This event is organised by the Institute of Laws, Politics and Philosophy (ILPP)

Event Information

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UCL Laws

Please note that the time allocated for this colloquium will be devoted to discussion of the paper. Download a copy of the paper.

Speaker: Prof Charles Mills (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)

About the paper

This lecture will seek to address both the issue of racial justice and the question of why it has been so little addressed in Western and, more specifically, American political philosophy. Part I will locate this seemingly puzzling failure within a much longer history of liberal political philosophy’s betrayal of its ostensible ideals. Part II turns to John Rawls, whose 1971 book, A Theory of Justice, is routinely credited both with reviving Anglo-American political philosophy and making social justice its central theme. So, Rawls is judged to be the most important American political philosopher of the 20th century. However, I will argue that his project was deeply flawed from the start. Finally, in part III, I will indicate one possible strategy for deriving liberal principles of racial justice via a radical modification of the Rawlsian apparatus.

About the speaker

Charles W. Mills is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He works in the general area of oppositional political theory as centered on class, gender, and race, and is the author of six books: The Racial Contract (1997); Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race (1998); From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism (2003); Contract and Domination (co-authored with Carole Pateman; 2007); Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality (2010); and Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism (2017). Together with Robert Gooding-Williams he co-edited a special issue of the Du Bois Review, “Race in a ‘Postracial’ Epoch” (Spring 2014), and together with Wulf D. Hund and Silvia Sebastiani, he co-edited Simianization: Apes, Gender, Class, and Race (2015). He is currently at work on his seventh book, The White Leviathan: Nonwhite Bodies in the White Body Politic.


This event will be delivered via Zoom Meeting. Attendees will be encouraged to keep their cameras on during the event however microphones will be turned off unless delegates are contributing to discussion and/or asking a question. Registered delegates will receive the zoom joining link 48-hours before the start of the event. Contact the Laws Events team (laws-events@ucl.ac.uk) if you have not received the link.

Book your place

About the Institute:The Institute brings together political and legal theorists from Law, Political Science and Philosophy and organises regular colloquia in terms 2 and 3.