School of Law

Centre for Criminal Justice Studies Annual Lecture

26 June 2018 | 17:30 - 19:00 | Lecture
Maurice Keyworth boardroom, Leeds Business School

The Centre for Criminal Justice Studies is delighted to welcome Professor Philip Stenning to deliver the Centre’s Annual Lecture. This talk, exploring the state’s legitimate use of force in the context of political philosophy and the law, will be of interest to anyone interested in law, society and politics. It will explore how citizen rights and political freedoms can be protected in the context of social contract models of governance, crime and disorder.

"Order, conflict resolution and crime: re-thinking the role of the state in the 21st Century"


Professor Philip Stenning, Honorary Professor, University KwaZulu-Natal, Durban & Adjunct Professor Griffith Criminology Institute


In 1651, Thomas Hobbes, in his book Leviathan, argued in favour of all men [sic.] surrendering their exclusive, inherent right to govern themselves to a ruler or “Assembly of Men”, as the only way of avoiding a “war of all against all”, in which life is “poor, nasty, brutish and short”. Since then, the state has increasingly claimed a monopoly over the legitimate use of force, and the right to make laws against crimes against the state, persons and property, and to establish criminal justice institutions to enforce them. 

In this talk I briefly trace the history of this liberal democratic idea of the relationship between the citizen and the state in the governance of crime and disorder, through the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries, to the early years of the 21st century.  I then consider, in light of the current state of crime and the criminal justice system in Britain, the arguments that have been raised during the last 50 years or so, suggesting that the time may have come to reconsider the ‘social contract’ that was advocated by thinkers such as Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, particularly as it applies to the role of the state with respect to the governance of crime and disorder.

I pose the question as to whether the role of the state in this respect has exceeded reasonable and rational limits, and if so, how it might best be ‘rolled back’ in favour of greater citizens’ responsibility and  participation with respect to addressing threats against their safety and security.

All welcome, but registration in advance is required.

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Location Details

Maurice Keyworth boardroom
Leeds Business School
University of Leeds

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