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Paul Scholten Centre Colloquium with Iris van Domselaar. Discussant Wouter de Been (EUR)

Detail Summary
Date 23 January 2018
Time 12:00 - 13:00
Location Roeterseilandcampus - building A
Roeterseilandcampus - building A
Roeterseilandcampus - building A

Room Venue: Roeterseiland Room A3.01

Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
1018 WV Amsterdam


Drawing upon our everyday experiences, there is nothing radical about thinking that moral life is largely taken up by our efforts to obtain a clear vision of the situations we find ourselves in and to respond accordingly. Despite having experiential plausibility, vision-based approaches to morality are quite rare within moral philosophy. However, the moral philosophy of Iris Murdoch, in which ‘vision’ commands center stage, is a notable exception to this rule. During the last decades her work has increasingly received attention and constructive critiques from those who sympathize with the idea that vision should have a more prominent place in moral philosophy.

So far, the potential relevance of Murdoch’s moral philosophy for the public domain has received no attention. In this paper I will investigate what a Murdochian understanding of legal decision-making will amount to as adjudication can be understood as an institution that is concerned with public morality par excellence. Luckily, I will not need to start from scratch. Jerome Frank, one of the leading figures of the Legal Realist Movement, offers an account of legal decision-making that bears striking resemblances to Murdoch’s conceptualization of moral life. Reading Frank’s normative legal realism against the background of Murdoch’s moral philosophy has several advantages. First, Murdoch’s philosophy provides a welcome philosophical underpinning for Frank’s scholarly work. In addition, it sheds light on the largely ignored normative dimension of his work. Finally, reading Frank as Murdochian jurisprudence allows us to identify some crucial issues that a vision-based approach to adjudication, or perhaps to public decision-making in general, must further explore.

Research colloquium, organised by the Paul Scholten Centre. This colloquium is open to all, no registration required. A copy of the paper can be obtained via


Iris van Domselaar is a senior researcher/lecturer in legal philosophy and legal ethics at the University of Amsterdam and executive director of the Amsterdam Centre on the Legal Professions. She has published on topics such as a virtue-ethical approach to adjudication, tragic legal choices, judicial perception and legal ethics for corporate lawyers.