Tara Smith, "The Practical Need for Legal Ideals"

Professor Smith's main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law. She is currently writing a book on proper methodology in judicial review. Smith is author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics - The Virtuous Egoist(2006), Viable Values - A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as a number of articles in such venues as The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Law and Philosophy, and Social Philosophy and Policy. Recent publications include "Neutrality Isn't Neutral - On the Value Neutrality of the Rule of Law,"Washington University Jurisprudence Review 2011; "Reckless Caution: The Perils of Judicial Minimalism," NYU Journal of Law & Liberty 2010; and "Originalism's Misplaced Fidelity: 'Original' Meaning is Not Objective," Constitutional Commentary 2009. She is the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and also holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship.

In her presentation, Professor Smith explains that in order to understand the way the law should work in any particular sphere (e.g., tort liability, civil liberties, or business regulations), we must first grasp the proper aims and guiding principles of the legal system overall. Increasingly, however, that deeper question tends to be neglected. The presentation has two basic aims. First it seeks to provide a framework for understanding what a proper legal system is, identifying its three essential pillars. Further, it explores the reasons why such a "big picture" perspective is neglected and explains the damage wrought by our failure to tackle that question head-on.

This talk was recorded February 28, 2014, and sponsored by the Federalist Society.

Student organization presenters: 
Federalist Society