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We are delighted to invite you to the YTL Centre Annual Lecture in Politics, Philosophy and Law, which will be delivered this year by one of the world's leading historians of political thought, Professor Richard Tuck.  

Abstract: The idea that democracy rests ultimately on majority voting plays remarkably little part in most current theories of democracy. Instead, they stress (to take only a few examples) the importance of deliberation; or of bodies of rights which constrain democratic legislation; or of sortition rather than election as a means of choosing delegates to an assembly. Even when majority voting is defended, as it is by the so-called “epistemic democrats”, it is only as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.  This would have astonished the early theorists of modern democracy, to whom universal suffrage and majoritarian voting were the sole criteria for democratic politics. In this lecture I attempt to defend the old view, and to show that democratic politics is essentially a matter of agency. The title comes from the distinction the Abbé Sieyès made between “active” citizens, the electorate, and “passive’ citizens, who enjoyed all other legal rights, who could make their views known, and who were “represented” by the institutions of the state; the modern theories have turned us all, in this sense, effectively into “passive” citizens.

Biography: Richard Tuck is Frank G Thomson Professor of Government Theory in the Department of Government, Harvard University. He taught at the University of Cambridge from 1973 to 1995. Professor Tuck is a premier scholar of the history of political thought. His works include Natural Rights Theories (1979), Hobbes (1989), and Philosophy and Government, 1572-1651 (1993), The Rights of War and Peace (2001), Free Riding (2008) and The Sleeping Sovereignty: The Invention of Modern Democracy (2016). With Chris Bickerton, he is the author of A Brexit Proposal (2018).

If you would like to tweet about the event please use hashtag #YTLAnnualLecture

A drinks reception will follow the lecture.

Event details

The Great Hall, Ground Floor, King's Building
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS