Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division gave the 13th Annual Isaiah Berlin Lecture in London on 12 November 2015.
“It is a real honour to have been asked to give this year’s Isaiah Berlin lecture. Sir Isaiah was one of the truly great thinkers of the 20th Century, and, quoting Trotsky’s comment on the subject, a century which was not for those who desired a quiet life.1 The same might well be said of present times. At the start of his famous essay on the Two Concepts of Liberty – before he started to define and discuss them – Sir Isaiah took issue with professional philosophers for failing, as he saw it, to give ‘serious attention’ to ‘fundamental problems of politics’. Their failure to do so was ‘both surprising and dangerous’. Surprising, because the twentieth century was one that had seen social and political ideas have profound and violent effects on the lives of very many…”