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CPP Colloquium with Melissa Lane 'Plato’s Refashioning of Liberty on ‘Spartan’ Lines

  • Melissa Lane (Princeton)
Friday 4 November 2016
CPP Colloquia 2015-2016 & 2016-2017
Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden

The Center for Political Philosophy in Leiden is pleased to announce their Annual Lecture by 

Melissa Lane (Princeton)

Plato's Refashioning of Liberty on 'Spartan' Lines: Rule as Requiring Willing Obedience to Rulers


This paper challenges two claims that have emerged as influential in discussion of the history of liberty in classical Greek political thought and practice.  The first claim is about the centrality of Athens to the political history of freedom; the second claim is about the place of Plato in the history of freedom as it applies to individuals, seeing him as having invented (or come close to inventing) an ideal of positive individual liberty – in which liberty is understood as tantamount to virtue and virtuous self-rule. Against both claims, the paper explains how contemporary accounts of Sparta, presented Plato with the basis for a different relationship between liberty, law, and rule from that characterizing Athenian democracy. It considers how this model resonates with Plato’s development of an adverbial account of willing obedience as a version of liberty that is consistent with obedience to rule, not only of laws, but also of the individuals who hold the offices and exercise that rule.

About Melissa Lane

Melissa Lane is Class of 1943 Professor of Politics and Director of the Princeton University Center for Human Values. She has published numerous articles, edited volumes and papers. Professor Lane is the author of Eco-Republic: Ancient Ethics for a Green Age (2012) and most recently The Birth of Politics (2015).

She visits Leiden to give the fifth annual CPP Lecture on November 3.

About the Center for Political Philosophy (CPP) Colloquia Series

The CPP is a collaboration between the Institute for Philosophy and the Institute for Political Science at Leiden University. Attendance of the Colloquia is free and there is no need to register. See CPP for more information. For further questions please contact dr. Bruno Verbeek.

All are welcome!

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