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Events

New York, October 12-15, 2011


When Judges Disagree
An International Symposium on Logic and Its Limits in Jurisprudence

When judges disagree-when they write dissenting opinions, or when they reverse or remand lower court decisions-there is a tendency to think that some got it "right" and others got it "wrong." And indeed, there is such a thing as palpable error in the law: when judges make mathematical errors in calculating damages, for example, or when they improperly shift the burden of proof, or apply the wrong test, or the wrong controlling law.

Often, however, disagreements stem not from errors of this sort, nor from errors in logic. They stem from ideological differences that are not always articulated in the judgment. For purposes of this Symposium, ideology is defined as a non-negotiable belief about the way things are or ought to be, a belief that is equally impossible to prove and impervious to refutation. Ideology and ideological differences are especially common in charter or constitutional cases.

The primary question posed by this symposium will be whether it is possible to transcend political and sectarian ideology, and if so, how, and on what grounds. Material for discussion will be drawn from cases nominated by the participants themselves. Cases involving gender, religion, sexual preference, human rights, entitlements of indigenous peoples, judicial independence, and political or cultural conflicts are encouraged, particularly those that have resulted in dissenting opinions, reversal on appeal, public debate, or conflict with other branches of government.

It will be a "symposium" in the classical sense-a feast of ideas during which guests of comparable standing from diverse cultures and jurisdictions discuss theory and practice in controversial cases. The objective is to exchange ideas and to learn from one another, the essential premise being that no one country or jurisdiction is presumed to have a better approach to philosophical problems or practices in jurisprudence. The Institute will not espouse a particular political or sectarian agenda.

Participation is by invitation only and will be limited to sixteen chief justices, members of international tribunals, and other court leaders qualified to discuss the philosophical dimensions of jurisprudence at an advanced level. Efforts will be made to include a diversity of jurisdictions, geography, and gender, but otherwise participants will be selected in the order in which registration forms are received.

The symposium will begin with a short lecture at the National Arts Club. Housed in the Historic Tilden mansion, a New York City landmark, the NAC was founded in 1898 by Charles de Kay, literary and art critic for the New York Times, as a gathering place for artists, patrons and audiences in all the arts. The lecture will provide a conceptual framework for the critical analysis of specific cases and will be followed by a dinner at the Club. Other sessions will take place next door in the library of the Players Club, founded by Edwin Booth, a celebrated 19th century Shakespearean actor.

There is no charge for participants, but a voluntary contribution of $500 US is suggested. The Institute will provide the venue, the materials, coffee breaks, lunches, and two dinners. Participants are expected to pay for their travel and lodging and for the optional but highly recommended jazz and dinner cruise around the harbor on a glass top boat.

Click here to register.

For more information: info@internationalinst.com