UCL Faculty of Laws


In-Person | Incentivising Law

02 October 2023, 6:00 pm–7:15 pm

Wooden chess pieces

with Dr Kara Woodbury-Smith (Durham Law School) - part of the UCL Legal Theory Lecture Series

Event Information

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UCL Laws Events


UCL Faculty of Laws,
Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens

Speaker: Dr Kara Woodbury-Smith (Durham Law School)
Chair: Prof. Kevin Toh (UCL)

About the talk

This project begins by analysing the conceptual relationship between law and non-coercive incentives, specifically asking whether it mirrors the conceptual relationship between law and coercion I defend in ‘The Nature of Law and Potential Coercion’ (2020). Dr Kara Woodbury-Smith's preliminary conclusion is that it does, and the revised claim is that law in general is incentive-apt. The project then switches gears, leaving general jurisprudence behind. Roughly, the second inquiry regards natural necessity. HLA Hart claims that whilst coercion is not conceptually necessary feature of law in general (is not an existence condition of law in general), it may be naturally necessary to the functioning of our legal systems (given certain natural facts about us and our world). Dr Woodbury-Smith wants to explore the so-called natural relationship between law and incentives more generally. She hopes that this exploration will do several things: 1, put pressure on the assumption that non-coercive law is ineffective; 2, inspire conversations in normative legal philosophy about the types of incentives that are best suited for certain legal aims; and 3, lend support to a claim Jean Thomas makes (2021): that over reliance on coercion damages the rule of law. 

About the speaker

Dr Kara Woodbury-Smith is an Assistant Professor of Legal Theory at Durham Law School, where she has worked since 2018. She is a founding member of the Durham Centre for Law and Philosophy and an Executive Committee member of The Collective: Women in Legal Philosophy. Her philosophical interests are varied, but her research tends to focus on general jurisprudence, the nature of coercion, and how law and coercion relate to one another.

This event is in-person only.

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Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash