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CPP Annual Lecture with Joseph Heath, The challenge of policing minorities in a liberal state

Thursday 12 May 2022
CPP Colloquium 2021-2022
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

It gives me great pleasure to announce the 2022 Annual CPP Lecture given by Joseph Heath (University of Toronto)

Professor Joseph Heath

The challenge of policing minorities in a liberal state


While the murder of George Floyd by a U.S. police officer in 2020 drew worldwide attention to the problems of policing in that country, it is a striking feature of modern liberal states that almost all have experienced persistent difficulties policing internal minorities. France, for example, despite having radically different policing institutions, demographics, welfare policies, crime rates, and gun control regulations than the U.S., has experienced similar difficulties. I argue that these problems arise from an inherent tension within the liberal state, between the Weberian ambition to exercise a monopoly on the use of force and the Lockean desire to impose limits on the scope of legal regulation. In order to see the tension this creates, it is necessary first to set aside a mistaken view of law, and of the role that police play with respect to law enforcement. Only with a clear sociological understanding of the role that police play in securing social order can one achieve clarity withregard to the normative challenge that their activities raise. This makes it easier to see how relations with minority groups could wind up becoming a flashpoint for conflict, and for the development of oppressive and ineffective policing practices. It also provides a better understanding of why these practices have proven, in many cases, peculiarly resistant to reform.


Joseph Heath is professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto with a dual appointment in the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto. He is fellow of the Trudeau Foundation. He is the author of Morality, Competition and the Firm (2014), Following the Rules (2008), Communicative Action and Rational Choice (2001), as well us more general publications as The Efficient Society, Nation of Rebels, Economics without Illusions, and Enlightenment 2.0. His most recent book is entitiled The Machinery of Government (2021) which just won the Donner Prize.

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 at b.verbeek@phil.leidenuniv.nl.


All are welcome!


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