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Ian Shapiro Delivers Irvine Lecture

Ithaca, NEW YORK, May 4
“We’re reactive creatures, often fumbling in the dark for something less unsatisfactory than what is oppressing us,” Ian Shapiro observed as he delivered this year’s Frank Irvine Endowed Lecture. The principle to guide us toward the more satisfactory, Shapiro proposed, is not equality or freedom but non-domination, which he calls “the bedrock of justice.”

Shapiro is the Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University, where he also serves as the Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. He has written widely and influentially on democracy, justice, and the methods of social inquiry. Among his most recent books are Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror and The Flight From Reality in the Human Sciences. His paper on non-domination, from which the April 5 lecture at Cornell Law was adapted, will be published by the University of Toronto Law Journal in July.

Addressing a packed lecture hall, Shapiro presented his characterization of domination — as a human activity, alterable by those responsible for its existence and carrying with it a notion of illicitness — and distinguished his own conception of non-domination from those of such theorists as Habermas, Foucault, Michael Walzer, Quentin Skinner, and Philip Pettit. The event concluded with a probing Q&A session.

The Frank Irvine Endowed Lecture series, Cornell Law’s oldest, was established in 1913 by the Conkling Inn of the legal fraternity Phi Delta Phi in honor of former dean Judge Frank Irvine. Past lectures have featured such notable speakers as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and civil liberties advocate Vincent Blasi.

--Owen Lubozynski