Democracy and the Administrative State

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3 December 2019 at UNSW Law, Sydney

Speaker: Edward L. Rubin, Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University*

Theories of democracy are abundant, and becoming more so, but none seem to incorporate the administrative nature of the modern state.  Either they ignore it, which makes the theory a form of alternative history, akin to science fiction, or they treat administration as a hostile force that democracy needs to control.  Given the stability of modern democratic regimes, this seems implausible, but there is an even stronger basis for objection.  In historical terms, the advent of both democracy and modern administrative governance in the Western World occurred at the same time, which is the end of the Eighteenth Century.   Professor Rubin proposes that this is not a temporal coincidence, but reflects a basic transformation of attitudes and beliefs – specifically the worldview that social institutions are supposed to serve the needs and desires of the populace – and will explore this further in his presentation.

Download Professor Rubin’s working paper.

The event is free but registration is important to secure your seat.

Our project is co-hosting this talk with the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law.

*Professor Rubin is a much published scholar who specializes in administrative law, constitutional law and political theory. He was dean of Vanderbilt Law School from 2005 to 2009, and focused on reforming and updating legal education. Before coming to Vanderbilt, he was Professor and Associate Dean at University of California (Berkeley) School of Law (Boalt Hall) from 1982 to 1998 and Professor at University of Pennsylvania School of Law, from 1998 to 2005. Rubin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., received a BA from Princeton University in 1969, an MA from City College of New York in 1969, and a JD from Yale in 1979. He has served as a consultant on payments law to the Russian Federation and on administrative law to the People’s Republic of China.