Sheffrin Lecture: Political Theorist Explores Corporate Rights

Portrait photo
Philip Pettit

Should corporations, churches and voluntary associations be assigned rights under our laws in the same way as individual human beings?

That's the question that philosopher and political theorist Philip Pettit explored Thursday, Oct. 29, in the 2015 Sheffrin Lecture in Public Policy. His talk was titled "Giving Corporate Bodies Their Due — and Only Their Due." Read a summary and watch a video of his talk, "Giving Corporate Bodies Their Due — and Only Their Due." 

Pettit is Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University, where he has taught political theory and philosophy since 2002. He is also currently Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University in Canberra.

He works in moral and political theory, as well as on background issues in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics.

Freedom, politics and ethics

His acclaimed book Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government sets out his theory of freedom as non-domination and addresses the political consequences of economic inequality. That book led to his 2004 appointment as an adviser to former Prime Minister of Spain José Luis Zapatero—a relationship he explores in A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero’s Spain, co-authored with José Martí.

Scheduled to present the John Locke Lectures in Philosophy at Oxford University in 2019, Pettit holds a number of honorary doctorates and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His most recent book is The Robust Demands of the Good: Ethics with Attachment, Virtue, and Respect.

About the Sheffrin Lecture

The Sheffrin Lecture brings distinguished scholars from across the social science disciplines to UC Davis to inform our thinking on the day’s most relevant issues of national public policy. In recent years, speakers have shared their work on health care reform, government secrecy, immigration and polarization in American politics.

The Sheffrin Lectures in Public Policy are possible thanks to a gift from a former dean of social sciences, Steven M. Sheffrin, and his wife, Anjali.

This free, public lecture was co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Herbert A. Young Society.