Prof Roger Brownsword to give Annual Jurisprudence Lecture
18 March 2014
In the year 2061—one hundred years after the publication of HLA Hart’s The Concept of Law—we might still conceive of law as a rule-based enterprise; but I predict that, by that time, the domain of law will have shrunk as rules will have given way to technological management.
In the Year 2061—Questions about the Changing Complexion of the Regulatory Environment
Professor Roger Brownsword of Kings College, University of London, will deliver the annual jurisprudence lecture on 20 March from 1200 until 1330 in Chemistry lecture theatre 1. There will be a break at 1250. This event is not open to those outside of the Law School. However, if you are not a member of the Law School and wish to attend, please contact Patrick Capps (email@example.com).
In the year 2061—one hundred years after the publication of HLA Hart’s The Concept of Law—we might still conceive of law as a rule-based enterprise; but I predict that, by that time, the domain of law will have shrunk as rules will have given way to technological management. For example, in 2061, it will be a suite of technologies that controls the movement of traffic on the roads; in 2061, the account given by Hart’s famous external observer will be absolutely right—it will be the traffic lights that determine whether vehicles halt or proceed; in 2061, there will be no internal dimension (no internal attitude towards the rules of the road) because the situation will no longer be rule-governed. As regulators turn to technologies to design in their desired pattern of behaviour, what should we make of this kind of change to the complexion of the regulatory environment?Two principal concerns relate to the compromising of the conditions for moral community (because there is no longer any virtue in doing the technologically determined right thing) and the loss of autonomy (as options are eliminated and humans displaced from the performance of various functions). In order to address such concerns, I suggest, that we will need to overhaul our understanding of legality which, in its seminal Fullerian articulation, is predicated on the assumption that law is an affair of duty-imposing rules. Instead, the focus of legality shifts to the processes by which communities decide to adopt technological management together with the compatibility of such regulatory measures with fundamental values. In a world of rapid technological transformation, there are important challenges waiting for the next generation of lawyers.