Guido Calabresi to Give 1997 DeVane Lectures

Abortion, assisted suicide, capital punishment and other life-and-death issues will be explored in the next DeVane Lecture series at Yale University, presented by federal judge and former Yale Law School Dean Guido Calabresi. In the 12-part series, “Life, Death, and the Law,” Judge Calabresi will also discuss legal decisions pertaining to medical experimentation, the allocation of scarce organs in transplants, limits to procreation and wartime military service.

“Most of these involve decisions which cannot be made decently, let alone well, and yet must be made,” said Judge Calabresi. “We will be concerned both with how the law makes these decisions– and frequently hides the decisions that are made.”

The DeVane Lectures will begin Jan. 20 and will be presented on Mondays through April at 4 p.m. in Levinson Auditorium of the Law School, 127 Wall St. The public is welcome to attend free of charge.

The schedule will be:

Jan. 20 Introduction to legal thought

Jan. 27 Liberty, equality, fraternity in life and death situations

Feb. 3 Birth and the law: who gets to have children

Feb. 10 Abortion and the law: pro-life, pro-choice, pro-child

Feb. 17 Life and the law: who gets the transplants

Feb. 24 Risk and the law: medical experiments in humans

March 3 Risk and the law: who serves in wartime

March 24 Tradeoffs: life and death situations, the decision for accidents

March 31 Death and the law: capital punishment

April 7 Death and the law: right to die, physician-assisted suicide

April 14 Subterfuges: allocating tragic goods on the basis of absolute worthiness

April 21 Idealism, honesty, tragic choices

Known worldwide for his work on tort law, Judge Calabresi is a Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law and Professorial Lecturer in Law. He earned an undergraduate degree at Yale College in 1953 and a LL.B. from Yale Law School in 1958. A year later, he joined the Law School faculty. He was appointed a full professor in 1962 when he was only 29 years old, making him one of the youngest to achieve that status, and was named to the prestigious Sterling Professorship in 1978. He served as dean of the school from 1985 to 1994, when he was sworn in as a federal judge.

Judge Calabresi is the author of more than 75 articles and five books, including the 1970 volume, “The Cost of Accidents,” which served as the basis of many reforms in the law of torts over the past 20 years. His other books, “Tragic Choices” with Philip Bobbitt, “A Common Law for the Age of Statutes” and “Ideals, Beliefs, Attitudes and the Law,” have extended his influence into such areas as the interpretation of statutes, law and medicine, and constitutional law.

The Yale faculty member selected to deliver the semester-long lecture series holds the William Clyde DeVane Professorship, a significant academic tribute. Established in 1969 with a grant from the Old Dominion Foundation, the professorship honors the former dean of Yale College by addressing his concern that undergraduate education not become excessively narrow and departmentalized. Previous DeVane Professors include Jonathan Spence, Jaroslav Pelikan, Paul Kennedy, Sidney Altman, Martin Klein, Harold I. Bloom, Vincent Scully, Charles Lindblom and the late Alexander Bickel.

Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325