Melissa Lane Participates in a Civil Service Leadership Academy Seminar in London on "The Idea of Public Office"

Thursday, Jul 5, 2018
Building on her Carlyle Lectures this past spring, Melissa Lane and about 70 top UK civil servants will give a talk hosted by Princeton University and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.                            

Using the Institute for Government’s recent report on accountability as a framework, this seminar will focus on the relationship between office, both political and official, and accountability, drawing on a comparison between modern common law systems and those of ancient Greece, and particularly democratic Athens.

It explores the Greeks’ mechanisms for ensuring accountability through active public engagement, in the context of imposing limits and control on positions of power that were neither purely political nor purely administrative. 

Discussion includes how each and every Athenian official would be held individually accountable for their decisions, and liable to individual punishments if the accounts were judged to be unacceptable. The seminar will conclude by debating the extent to which greater personalisation of accountability on either side would today be advantageous or disadvantageous when delivering major Government projects. 

The seminar concludes a weekend in the UK for Lane, who was also an invited speaker on one of six plenary Symposium panels at the primary UK philosophy conference every year: the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association.           

Melissa Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and director of the University Center for Human Values. She is also an associated faculty member in the Department of Classics and the Department of Philosophy. Prof Lane recently delivered the 2018 Carlyle Lectures at Oxford University on Classical Greek ideas of Office and Rule.