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Reading Group: Law and Morality in Early 20th Century Marxism

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Location: MS Teams

Law and Morality in Early 20th Century Marxism 

In this reading group, we examine the relationship of law and morality through the eyes of early 20th century Marxist literature. This was a time of acute crisis in Western political history. The workers’ movement was in tumult, with the ruination of the 2nd International, the repression of revolutionary fervour in Europe, and the rise of fascism. As old powers crumbled and others arose, the moral status of law came into focus. A new radicalism asked out loud: Is there anything inherently good about the legal order?

In each session, we relate the selected literature to philosophical problems surrounding state, law, and morality. Among other things, we will discuss the critique of natural law, examine the link between history and moral judgments, and have a closer look at the Marxist notion of ideology.

No prior knowledge is required; open debate is highly encouraged. Each session will focus on one text (see below). Digital copies of the texts will be provided on Teams, some also in an abridged version (at least one week in advance). Ross or Simon will provide a brief introduction to each text, then there is roughly one hour for discussion.

1st session: 3 November 2021

Karl Marx (1843): “On the Jewish question.” In Marx and Engels Collected Works, vol. 3, 146–174. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1975.


Ross Ferrara (

Simon Gansinger (


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See also:
Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature & The Arts Events
Consciousness and Self-Consciousness Research Centre Events
Arts Faculty Events