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For Foucault 13/13, click here.

"In Search of the Concrete Universal: a Conference in Honor of Seyla Benhabib"

Friday, March 27 & Saturday, March 28, 2020 at Yale University

RSVP at the event page.

A Conference in Honor of Seyla Benhabib

In celebration of her legacy of scholarship, teaching, and mentorship, Seyla Benhabib will be honored with a conference at Yale University on March 27-28, 2020.

Participants will include: Arash Abizadeh, Danielle Allen, Umur Basdas, Angélica Bernal, Richard Bernstein, Ayşen Candaş Bilgen, Sonali Chakravarti, Drucilla Cornell, Stefan Eich, Carolin Emcke, Blake Emerson, Rainer Forst, Adom Getachew, Robert Gooding-Williams, Peter E. Gordon, Ayten Gündoğdu, Bernard Harcourt, Turkuler Isiksel, Anna Jurkevics, Cristina Lafont, Matthew Longo, Paul Linden-Retek, Karuna Mantena, Patchen Markell, Thomas McCarthy, Eduardo Mendieta, Sankar Muthu, Max Pensky, Judith Resnik, William Scheuerman, Lorenzo Simpson, Brandon Terry, Shatema Threadcraft, Peter Verovsek, Christian Volk, and others.

We are grateful for the support of Yale’s Department of Political Science, the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, and the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought.

We look forward to seeing you in March.


September 10, 9am-6:30pm

Franco-American Conference in Law, Criminology, Economics, History and Philosophy

To RSVP, please click here. This interdisciplinary symposium explores a crucial but little-studied issue with growing importance today: what is the value of harm suffered by victims, whether of terrorism, crime or natural disasters. In law, politics, economics and public opinion, answers differ widely, and unequal treatment is the norm. Across the globe, victims evoke a range of feelings, from compassion verging on celebrations of heroism, to denial, anger, indifference and even repulsion. Those reactions translate into wide variations in legal and economic responses to their harm.

The symposium will bring together experts to compare perspectives from the United States and France. They will be joined by professors of law, economics, history and philosophy. It will be held in English at the Maison Française at Columbia University in New York and is part of the Matrice Memory Program, an international transdiscilplinary research program supported by the Government of France (« Plan d'Investissements d’avenir »), and specifically a section of this program dedicated to memory of 11/13 terrorist attacks in Paris ( 

The symposium is co-sponsored by the University Paris-1 Panthéon Sorbonne, CNRS, Maison Française, Columbia Department of Economics and Center for Contemporrary Critical Thought.

The speakers include prominent experts from the United States and France, including two prominent public officials, François MOLINS, Attorney General at the French Court of Cassation (Supreme Court) and Cyrus VANCE Jr., District Attorney for New York County. They will be joined by professors of law, economics, history and philosophy.

Speakers will address questions such as:

• Do we really care about all victims?
• Should all victims be treated equally? Is there a moral or legal "hierarchy" of victims?
• Why do some victims touch us more and some less? Why do they evoke such a range of feelings?
• What does this diversity of reactions teach us about society? Does it exacerbate an ideological divide? Does our treatment of victims have a cathartic effect?
• What can we learn from the approaches of civil liability law, criminal law, economics, history and philosophy?


9 a.m. – 12 :30 a.m. MORNING (Chair: Pierre-André CHIAPPORI, E. Rowan and Barbara Steinschneider Professor of Economics, Director of The French House, Columbia University)

- The Perception of the "Value" of the Victim by the Judicial Authorities in the Initiation and Conduct of Criminal Proceedings and of the Greater or Lesser Compassion of the Magistrate
• Cyrus VANCE Jr, New York County District Attorney: in the United States
• François MOLINS, General Attorney of the French Court of Cassation: in France

- The Value of the Victim : an Economic Approach
• Mark COHEN, Justin Potter Professor of American Competitive Enterprise & Professor of Law Vanderbilt University: Economics of crime

- Who is and who is not an “Ideal Victim”? A Criminological Approach
Patrick MORVAN, Professor of Law, Pantheon-Assas University, Paris

2 p.m. – 5 :30 p.m. AFTERNOON (Chair: Elisabeth PELSEZ, Inter-ministerial Delegate for Victims' Assistance, France)

- The Value of the Victim in Tort and Compensation Law
• Philippe PIERRE, Professor of Law, Rennes 1 University (France): European and French Law
• Robert FIELD, Professor of Law and Professor of Health Management and Policy, Drexel University, Philadelphia: American Law

- Compassion Towards Victims Throughout History and Political Science
• Denis PESCHANSKI, CNRS, Director of Matrice Memory Research Program, Co-leader of 13-November Program
• Bernard HARCOURT, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

- Conclusion : Hate, Fear and Violence in Philosophy
Marc CREPON, CNRS, Director of the Philosophy Department of the École normale supérieure, Paris