Thomas More on Ethics, Law, and Liberty
Invitation only conference held at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in partnership with the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas.
May 31,2013 - June 1, 2013
Unique in terms of subject matter and academic focus, this colloquium aims to bring together a small group of legal scholars to consider how the work and life of Sir Thomas More can inform and deepen the study of legal ethics. Participation will be limited to 20 legal scholars so as to encourage informal, but serious discussion of seminal texts by More. There will be seven 90-minute sessions, typically consisting of a short introductory lecture followed by seminar exploration of each major text. Among the discussion leaders will be Dr. Gerard Wegemer of the University of Dallas, author of Thomas More on Statesmanship (1998) and Young Thomas More and the Arts of Liberty (2011) and Dr. Samuel Gregg, research director of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, author of On Ordered Liberty: A Treatise on the Free Society (2003). Already committed to attending is Professor Richard Helmolz of the University of Chicago School of Law, who participated in our 2008 conference on More’s trial and authored “Natural Law and The Trial of Thomas More,” chapter two of Thomas More’s Trial by Jury (eds. H.A. Kelly, L.W. Karlin & G. Wegemer, 2011).
The idea behind the colloquium is to introduce law professors to More’s writings on ethics, law, and liberty. More is well known for his heroic adherence to principle in the face of the English crown’s highly political prosecution for treason. However, the manner in which his trial was conducted, along with the legal landscape of early modern England, is not so well known. Nor has there been any serious, concerted effort to investigate the significance of More’s great humanist works, such as Utopia and History of King Richard III, for legal ethics. In these seminar sessions, we will explore these humanist masterpieces, along with representative passages from More’s political and apologetic works, and, finally, his prison letters and trial defense with the aim of arriving at a deeper understanding of the role of law and lawyers in a free society.