JSI Seminar: Sovereignty and Absolutism – Law School: Events JSI Seminar: Sovereignty and Absolutism – Law School: Events

JSI Seminar: Sovereignty and Absolutism

JSI Seminar: Sovereignty and Absolutism

For some contemporary commentators, sovereignty is an obsolete and dangerous concept. A negative or sceptical attitude towards sovereignty, however, is not a new phenomenon. Looking back over the last few decades, it is not difficult to find examples of strong criticism of sovereignty in polemical political writings and academic scholarship. Perhaps this is not too surprising, as the brutality of World War I, the rise of totalitarian regimes, the failed experiment of the League of Nations, the atrocities of World War II, the possibility of a nuclear apocalypse, several genocides and civil wars, have seemed to provide enough evidence to think that sovereignty, absolutism, and expansionism go hand and hand.

After World War II, Maritain articulated a strong critique of sovereignty by equating it to absolutism. In this paper, Dr Andrea Dolcetti critically analyses the argumentative strategy that Maritain deploys to demonstrate the undesirability of sovereignty, both as a concept and a reality in human affairs. In his view, flaws in Maritain’s arguments can shed light on the shortcomings of equating sovereignty with absolutism. The paper has a pars destruens, in which Dr Dolcetti refutes Maritain’s arguments against sovereignty; followed by a pars construens, where he uses some of the insights of Maritain’s political philosophy to argue that, under certain conditions, sovereignty can be valuable for the life of a political community. Understanding that sovereignty does not necessarily entail absolutism has significant implications for contemporary debates about sovereignty.


About the speaker

Andrea Dolcetti is currently a Visiting Scholar at Sydney Law School and a Sessional Teaching Academic at Macquarie Law School. He is also a Research Associate of the Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government at the University of Oxford; and a Fellow of the Tarello Institute for Legal Philosophy at the University of Genoa, Italy. Andrea attained a DPhil in Law and an MSt in Legal Research at the University of Oxford, where he worked as a Law Lecturer (St. Hilda’s College and University College) and as a Junior Research Fellow in Law (Trinity College). Andrea also holds a PhD in Legal Philosophy and Bioethics from the University of Genoa.

In his research, Andrea engages with the complex socio-legal reality of the nation-state, considering how the recent processes of globalisation may challenge our understanding of the scope of state powers. So far, his scholarship has focuses on the idea of state sovereignty, the function of municipal law, and the nature of legal norms. Andrea values interdisciplinary research and his work draws insights from philosophy, history, literature, and politics. He enjoys collaborating with colleagues based in other jurisdictions and has presented his research in the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. Andrea is a member of the ‘Membership and Exclusion under Constitutions’ Research Group (International Association of Constitutional Law) and serves on the editorial boards of two academic journals – Revus and Analisi e Diritto.



Time: 6-7.30pm

This is an online event. Once you register you will receive the Zoom details.


CPD Points: 1.5


This event is hosted by the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence at The University of Sydney Law School. 

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May 27 2021


6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

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