Torture used to be incompatible with American values. Our Bill of Rights forbids cruel and unusual punishment, and that has come to include all forms of corporal punishment except prison and death by methods purported to be painless. Americans and our government have historically condemned states that torture; we have granted asylum or refuge to those who fear it. The Senate ratified the Convention Against Torture, Congress enacted antitorture legislation, and judicial opinions spoke of "the dastardly and totally inhuman act (...) of torture.” Then came September 11. (shrink)
This is a book about the ethics of the legal profession proceeding from one basic premise: our nation is so dependent on its lawyers that their ethical problems transform themselves into public difficulties.
The answer I offer in this Article is that crimes against humanity assault one particular aspect of human being, namely our character as political animals. We are creatures whose nature compels us to live socially, but who cannot do so without artificial political organization that inevitably poses threats to our well-being, and, at the limit, to our very survival. Crimes against humanity represent the worst of those threats; they are the limiting case of politics gone cancerous. Precisely because we cannot (...) live without politics, we exist under the permanent threat that politics will turn cancerous and the indispensable institutions of organized political life will destroy us. That is why all humankind shares an interest in repressing these crimes. The theory that I aim to defend here consists of two propositions: (i) that "humanity" in the label "crimes against humanity" refers to our nature as political animals, and (ii) that these crimes pose a universal threat that all humankind shares an interest in repressing. (shrink)
In this comprehensive collection of essays, most of which appear for the first time, eminent scholars from many disciplines—philosophy, economics, sociology, political science, demography, theology, history, and social psychology—examine the causes, nature, and consequences of present-day consumption patterns in the United States and throughout the world.
David Luban is one of the world's leading scholars of legal ethics. In this collection of his most significant papers he ranges over such topics as the moral psychology of organisational evil, the strengths and weaknesses of the adversary system, and jurisprudence from the lawyer's point of view. His discussion combines philosophical argument, legal analysis and many cases drawn from actual law practice, and he defends a theory of legal ethics that focuses on lawyers' role in enhancing human dignity and (...) human rights. In addition to an analytical introduction, the volume includes two major previously unpublished papers, including a detailed critique of the US government lawyers who produced the notorious 'torture memos'. It will be of interest to a wide range of readers in both philosophy and law. (shrink)
We suggest thinking about the beginning and ending of wars as an exercise in risk management. We argue that states, like individual citizens, must accept that some degree of security risk is inevitable when coexisting with others. We offer two principles for the just management of military risk. The first principle is Morally Justified Bearable Risk, which demands that parties at war temper their claims of justice with the realities of an anarchic and conflicted international system. The second principle, Minimum (...) Consistency toward Risk, mandates that states generally not weigh security threats higher than risks from other sources. (shrink)
This paper is a review essay of W. Bradley Wendel's Lawyers and Fidelity to Law, part of a symposium on Wendel's book. Parts I and II aim to situate Wendel's book within the literature on philosophical or theoretical legal ethics. I focus on two points: Wendel's argument that legal ethics should be examined through the lens of political theory rather than moral philosophy, and his emphasis on the role law plays in setting terms of social coexistence in the midst of (...) moral pluralism. Both of these themes lead him to reject viewing legal ethics as an instance of "the problem of role morality." In part III I note the similarity between Wendel's view and that of legal process theorists, and I argue that the view involves too much complacency about the American legal system. Part IV examines the central metaphor of Wendel's book, fidelity to law. I distinguish between two forms of fidelity, personal and interpretive. The former is a relation between persons, while the latter means mimetic accuracy in interpretation, translation, performance of music, portraiture, or other forms of representation. I agree with Wendel's views on the requirement that lawyers exhibit interpretive fidelity toward law, but not personal fidelity. I argue that law is not the kind of thing toward which one can have personal fidelity; rather, the fidelity must be toward other members of the community rather than toward norms as such; and in cases where the law systematically discriminates, or is otherwise systematically unjust, the bonds of reciprocity grounding such a relation are absent, and the kind of unconditional obedience to law that Wendel supports is unjustified. Part V asks where, on Wendel’s view, the morality went. I argue that Wendel's view, which derives from but modifies Joseph Raz's analysis of legal authority as exclusionary reasons, does not succeed—either it begs the question of whether law actually provides exclusionary reasons or, if (as Wendel suggests) the reasons are not wholly exclusionary, Raz’s two levels of reasoning collapse into one, and acting on moral grounds is not in fact excluded by legal authority. I then turn to Wendel's ideas about "moral remainders"—the moral costs that acting on his view of legal ethics may inflict on others. Wendel suggests that some form of atonement can cancel the moral remainder, but I am skeptical that his proposal—atoning through law reform activities—can do the job. (shrink)
In the immediate aftermath of September 11, President Bush stated that the perpetrators of the deed would be brought to justice. Soon afterwards, the President announced that the United States would engage in a war on terrorism. The first of these statements adopts the familiar language of criminal law and criminal justice. It treats the September 11 attacks as horrific crimes—mass murders—and the government’s mission as apprehending and punishing the surviving planners and conspirators for their roles in the crimes. The (...) War on Terrorism is a different proposition, however, and a different model of governmental action—not law but war. Most obviously, it dramatically broadens the scope of action, because now terrorists who knew nothing about September 11 have been earmarked as enemies. But that is only the beginning. (shrink)
In Plato's Laws, the Athenian Stranger claims that the gods will smile only on a city where the law This passage is the origin of the slogan an abbreviation of which forms our phrase From Plato and Aristotle, through John Adams and John Marshall, down to us, no idea has proven more central to Western political and legal culture. Yet the slogan turns on a very dubious metaphor. Laws do not rule, and the is actually a specific form of rule (...) by men (including, nowadays, a few women). These rulers are not slaves to anything. Furthermore, the construction of the sloganhas unfortunate connotations. It suggests that the personal qualities of the human rulers required to secure the rule of law are nothing more than forbearance and disinterestedness—a resolution to stay out of law's way.Footnotes* I have received helpful comments and criticisms from a number of readers, including the other contributors to this volume and participants in the Georgetown University Law Center faculty workshop. In addition, I should like to thank Brian Bix, Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred Schauer, and Wibren van der Burg for extensive written comments on an earlier draft of this essay. (shrink)
One of the most celebrated Talmudic parables begins with a remarkably dry legal issue debated among a group of rabbis. A modern reader should think of the rabbis as a collegial court, very much like a secular appellate court, because the purpose of their debate is to generate edicts that will bind the community. The issue under debate concerns the ritual cleanliness of a baked earthenware stove, sliced horizontally into rings and cemented back together with unbaked mortar. Do the laws (...) of purity that apply to uncut stoves apply to this one as well? This stove is the so-called "oven of Akhnai" (oven of serpents). Presumably, its horizontal bands separated by mortar made it look like a coiled serpent; but according to the Talmud, it is the oven of Akhnai because the legal debate coiled the rabbis in serpentine arguments. Therein lies a remarkable tale. (shrink)
Integrity is a good thing, isn't it? In ordinary parlance, we sometimes use it as a near synonym for honesty, but the word means much more than honesty alone. It means wholeness or unity of person, an inner consistency between deed and principle. "Integrity" shares etymology with other unity-words-integer, integral, integrate, integration. All derive from the Latin integrare, to make whole. And the person of integrity is the person whose conduct and principles operate in happy harmony. Our psyches always seek (...) that happy harmony. When our conduct and principles clash with each other, the result, social psychology teaches us, is cognitive dissonance. And dissonance theory hypothesizes that one of our fundamental psychic mechanisms is the drive to reduce dissonance. (shrink)
The modern subject of theoretical legal ethics began in the 1970s. This brief history distinguishes two waves of theoretical writing on legal ethics. The “First Wave” connects the subject to moral philosophy and focuses on conflicts between ordinary morality and lawyers’ role morality, while the “Second Wave” focuses instead on the role legal representation plays in maintaining and fostering a pluralist democracy. We trace the emergence of the First Wave to the larger social movements of the 1960s and 1970s; in (...) the conclusion, we speculate about possible directions for a Third Wave of theoretical legal ethics, based in behavioral ethics, virtue ethics, or fiduciary theory. (shrink)
David Luban argues in this lecture that the moral foundation of the lawyer's profession lies in the defense of human dignity-and the chief moral danger facing the profession arises when lawyers assault human dignity rather than defend it. The concept of human dignity has a rich philosophical tradition, with some philosophers identifying human dignity as a metaphysical property of individuals-a property such as having a soul, or possessing autonomy. Luban argues instead that human dignity is a relational property of "the (...) dignifier" and "the dignified," emphasizing that assaulting human dignity humiliates the victim. Lawyers honor the human dignity of others by protecting them against humiliations, and defile that dignity by subjecting them to humiliations. The lecture develops these ideas through four traditional issues in legal ethics: the right of criminal defendants to an advocate, the duty of confidentiality, paternalism of attorneys toward their clients, and pro bono service. (shrink)
In a significant early case, the ICTY commented: “The essence of the whole corpus of international humanitarian law as well as human rights law lies in the protection of the human dignity of every person…. The general principle of respect for human dignity is . . . the very raison d'être of international humanitarian law and human rights law.” Is it true that international humanitarian law and international human rights law share the same “essence,” and that essence is the general (...) principle of respect for human dignity? Is it true that, in the words of Charles Beitz, humanitarian law is “perhaps better described as the law of ‘human rights in armed conflicts’”? To answer yes, I argue, amounts to a reinterpretation of IHL that drifts far from its history. This reinterpretation is what I label human rights thinking . In its origins, IHL was not designed to protect human dignity, but to reduce human suffering; it was a form of disaster relief. Human rights law, by contrast, originated as a blueprint for the kind of peacetime societies that would no longer plunge the world into what the UN Charter calls the “untold sorrow” of war. Nevertheless, law changes. Perhaps the nature of IHL has evolved over time in the direction of human rights thinking, and should evolve that way. That is the view I defend-–with some qualifications-–in the final sections of this essay. First, I explore the very different genealogies of IHL and human rights law, and explain how human rights thinking migrated into IHL. I attribute the migration to international criminal law, military occupations, and reactions to the U.S. war on terrorism. In the final sections, I explore two ways human rights thinking can be pursued in wars. One of them, I will argue, overplays and overestimates what human rights thinking can accomplish. It does so by, in effect, willing away fundamental differences between war and peace. The other is an approach that I have defended for more than three decades. It consists, at bottom, of taking a civilian’s-eye view of the disasters of war and reading the law accordingly-–recognizing, one might say, that Mother Courage and her children matter just as much to the law of war as Henry V and his band of brothers. (shrink)
Should a prosecutor throw a case to avoid keeping men he thinks are innocent in prison? The startling case of justice gone awry in the Palladium nightclub murder raises new questions about the role that conscience should play in lawyers’ ethics, when conscience presses one way but professional rules press the other.
Genghis Khan is supposed to have said, “Man’s highest joy is victory: to conquer one’s enemies, to hunt them down, to deprive them of their possessions, to make their loved ones weep, and to bed their wives and daughters.” Today, no ruler would dare utter such sentiments, and what the Khan called man’s highest joy would now be condemned everywhere as crimes against humanity and “grave breaches”—lawyerspeak for the most serious war crimes. Nevertheless, the U.S. killed more civilians in a (...) few minutes at Hiroshima than the Golden Horde did in its ruthless conquest of China; and the last ten years alone have witnessed civil wars and genocides of nearly incomprehensible cruelty and atrocity. Whether we think of General Mladic handing out candy to Muslim children in Srebenica shortly after ordering thousands of their fathers and brothers shot, or doped-up child soldiers in Sierra Leone chopping the arms off other children, or Saddam Hussein gassing Kurdish villagers, we confront the perplexing phenomenon that the past half-century has combined an incredible outpouring of humanitarian laws, treaties, and declarations with levels of wartime criminality that may exceed those in the Thirty Years’ War. Any light that philosophers might shed on this grotesque disconnect between moral ideals and reality would be welcome. So would more focused inquiry on the moral basis of international humanitarian law, or on the distribution of blame among politicians, perpetrators, planners, and passive supporters of mass atrocities. (shrink)
According to communitarian antiliberals, liberalism is fatally marred by a false metaphysics of the self. Liberalism, communitarians charge, regards the self as atomistic, isolated, presocial, ahistorical, “Cartesian,” Crusoeesque, essentially independent of other selves—in Michael Sandel's felicitous word, “unencumbered.” In reality, the self is constituted by relationships with others, hence by its contingent history. The self is fundamentally historical and social, and a true metaphysics of the self would, in the words of George Fletcher, take “relationships as logically prior to the (...) individual.” Sandel puts it thus: “Can we view ourselves as independent selves, independent in the sense that our identity is never attached to our aims and attachments? I do not think we can….”. (shrink)
Analytic jurisprudence often strikes outsiders as a discipline unto itself, unconnected with the problems that other legal scholarship investigates. Gerald Postema, in the article to which this paper responds, traces this “unsociability” to two narrowing defects in the project of analytic jurisprudence: from Austin on, it has concerned itself largely with the analysis of professional concepts, without connecting that analysis with other disciplines that study law, nor with the history of jurisprudence itself, nor with general philosophy; analytic jurisprudence studies only (...) time-‐slice legal systems, rather than legal systems unfolding in history. He argues that a time-‐slice legal system is incapable of explaining the normativity of law. Postema recommends an approach to jurisprudence based on sociability with other disciplines, including its own history and general philosophy; he also recommends an approach grounded in synechism – Peirce’s label for the attempt to find continuities between seemingly-‐discontinuous phenomena. My comments are largely sympathetic to Postema. I show that his argument about the normativity of law makes the most sense if we embed it in a “meaning as use” theory of legal language and its conceptual content. I am more skeptical of synechism, which on its face rejects a perfectly valid and valuable historiography focused on discontinuity – the kind of history written by Kuhn, Foucault, and Marx. I show that Peirce’s argument for synechism fails, whereas Postema’s version of synechism broadens the notion of continuity to include what might ordinarily be thought of as discontinuities. On the one hand, that rescues Postema from the charge of ruling out valid approaches to history on a priori grounds; on the other, it makes Postema’s version of synechism less distinctive than he supposes. (shrink)