Paul Litton, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and R. B. Price Professor of Law at the University of Missouri, recently visited the University of Mississippi as part of the Law School’s speaker exchange program.
The Ole Miss exchange program brings in faculty speakers from a number of peer schools, including University of Missouri, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, University of Houston, and University of Kentucky. The Sherman L. Muths, Jr., Lecture Series in Law Endowment supports the speaker exchange program.
“I am so pleased to be able to bring in a scholar of Paul Litton’s caliber to the Law School to discuss his work and enrich our intellectual life,” said Jack Nowlin, Senior Associate Dean and director of the Law School’s academic workshop program. “We owe a great debt to Sherman Muths for his generosity in creating this lecture series to support outstanding faculty speakers like Professor Litton.”
Litton presented a draft of his new paper “Physiological versus Experiential Scientific Explanations of Criminal Behavior. Is Either Relevant to Desert?” to the faculty and student invitees at a colloquium lecture. He also workshopped a second piece with a smaller group of faculty at a special scholars workshop.
“Both papers focus on whether particular kinds of causal explanations of criminal conduct either do or should mitigate blame and punishment,” said Litton. “A criminal defendant, particularly in capital cases, might offer evidence that explains the causes of his conduct in hopes of a more lenient sentence.”
The speaker exchange program is a central part of the Law School’s academic workshop program for faculty. “There’s really no substitute for talking through the issues in depth and face to face,” said Nowlin, “something all our speakers recognize.”
“The feedback for each presenting speaker is extremely valuable,” said Litton. “It is very helpful to engage in person and in extended conversation. Moreover, workshopping a paper forces one to explain his or her ideas to other scholars working in the relevant field as well as those in other fields.”
Christopher Green, Associate Professor and H.L.A. Hart Scholar in Law and Philosophy, participated in the workshops with Litton and also visited Missouri last spring for the speaker exchange. At Missouri, Green spoke with a group of philosophers about the metaphysics of corporate entities and corporations’ moral and criminal responsibility, and with law faculty about the relationship of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.
“Missouri is a great example of the sort of university that benefits from the cross-fertilization of ideas between the worlds of law and philosophy,” he noted. “The papers that Professor Litton delivered here reflect the same sort of cross-fertilization.”
Mississippi’s workshop program also has a strong interdisciplinary presence with scholars from history, philosophy, and public policy leadership often participating.