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Are Revolutions Justified?

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Authors who think about the justifiability of revolution, are often divided between those who criticise it on grounds of institutional legalism and those who endorse it on grounds of idealist moralism. Moralists think that since the ends of revolution are right, revolution can never be wrong. Legalists think that since the means of revolution are wrong, revolution can never be right. In this lecture Lea Ypi revisits their arguments and offers an alternative that tries to cut across the divide. She examines revolution not in relation to the justice of individuals but grounded on a philosophical theory of history that focuses on collective progress. She suggests that revolutions (including failed revolutions) enlarge the frame of political judgment, change feasibility constraints, and help develop the learning processes that future generations need to continue to emancipate.

Lea Ypi is Professor in Political Theory in the Government Department, London School of Economics, and Adjunct Associate Professor in Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. Before joining the LSE , she was a Post- doctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College (Oxford) and a researcher at the European University Institute where she obtained her PhD.

Professor Ypi has degrees in Philosophy and Literature from the University of Rome, La Sapienza, and has held visiting and research positions at Sciences Po, the University of Frankfurt, the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, the Australian National University and the Italian Institute for Historical Studies.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Lecture Series series.

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