A special three-day event “Belgrade Meets Surrey” was held at the Faculty of Law University of Belgrade, from the 2nd to the 4th of April 2024. The event included a two-day workshop on practical rationality, as well as a PhD session, as part of Work Package 5 of the ALF project that is aimed at the transfer of knowledge between the Universities of Surrey and Belgrade.

April 2nd was dedicated to PhD projects and thesis developments of the young researchers within the ALF project. The format of the event was focused on comments and criticisms given by professors from the University of Surrey that were aimed at improving the researchers’ theses. The comments were prepared in advance, but also extended during the live discussion in which all present participated, which followed after the PhD candidates had a chance to reply. The first commentator was Prof. Kenneth Ehrenberg, who offered his views on the topic of competence in relation to the existence and creation of legal acts and raised doubts about substantive conclusions advanced by Gonçalo Fabião from the University of Lisbon. The second commentator was Prof. Ambrose Lee, who focused his questions on the methodology of the PhD project of Mila Đorđević, from the University of Belgrade, that tackles the access to justice for Roma People in Serbia. The next speaker was again Prof. Kenneth Ehrenberg, who this time encompassed both substantive and methodological criticism of Diego Almonacid-Amarza’s (University of Genoa) account of the instrumentality of law and the place of functions and mechanistic explanation. Following was an epistemological critique and debate on the relation between metaethics and jurisprudence, given and started by Prof. Hrafn Assgeirson as a comment on a research paper by Sava Vojnović, from the University of Belgrade. Last, but not least, was a discussion about the ontological status of absolute human rights, sparked by Prof. Christopher Taggart’s comments on the PhD thesis of Ana Zdravković, from the University of Belgrade.

On the second day of the Workshop, April 3rd, the event commenced with a presentation by Prof. Kenneth Ehrenberg, titled “Why I’m an Exclusive Legal Positivist (and You Should be One too)”. This presentation sparked questions regarding his understanding of the concept of law, stimulating engaging discussions. Following was Prof. Bojan Spaić, from the University of Belgrade, who offered his insights on the topic of normative pluralism. The final presentation of the day was delivered by Prof. Ambrose Lee, who spoke on “Constitutive Luck, Criminality, and Distributive Justice”. Dr. Lee’s presentation offered valuable insights into the intersection of criminality and distributive justice.

The final day of the Workshop, April 4th, was opened by a discussion of Prof. Veronica Rodriguez Blanco’s (University of Surrey) chapter titled “The Politics of Civic Maturity v. the Politics of Justice: Reflecting on Bernard Williams’ Separation Thesis. Following was Prof. Miodrag Jovanović, from the University of Belgrade, who addressed the topic of normativity in relation to the role of systematicity that was also extensively commented and scrutinized by the participants. Finally, the last speaker was Julieta Rabanos, who is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Belgrade. She introduced her research on “Authority and Law: Some Contemporary Challenges”, which inspired exchange of views and suggestions for further research.

To sum up, the workshop was productive and marked by lively and constructive discussions. It has fostered interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange scholarly perspectives with the special emphasis on providing support to young researchers. We express our gratitude to all the participants, moderators and the organizing committee and look forward to continuing the conversation next year at the University of Surrey.

“Belgrade Meets Surrey” Workshop