This is a short introduction to a book symposium on Paul Gowder's recent book, _The Rule of Law in thee Real World_ (Cambridge University Press, 2016). The book symposium will appear in the St. Luis University Law Journal, 62 St. Louis U. L.J., -- (2018), with commentaries on Gowder's book by colleen Murphy, Robin West, Chad Flanders, and Matthew Lister, along with replies by Paul Gowder.
On the History of the Idea of Law is the first book ever to trace the development of the philosophical theory of law from its first appearance in Plato's writings to today. Professor Letwin finds important and positive insights and tensions in the theories of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Hobbes. She finds confusions and serious errors introduced by Cicero, Aquinas, Bentham, and Marx. She harnesses the insights of H. L. A. Hart and especially Michael Oakeshott to mount a devastating attack (...) on the late twentieth-century theories of Ronald Dworkin, the Critical Legal Studies movement, and feminist jurisprudence. In all of this, Professor Letwin finds the rule of law to be the key to modern liberty and the standard of justice. This is the final work of the distinguished historian and theorist Shirley Robin Letwin, a major figure in the revival of Conservative thought and doctrine from 1960 onwards, who died in 1993. (shrink)
In a published debate between Law and Economics avatar Judge Richard Posner and Professor Robin Malloy entitled ‘Is Law and Economics Moral?’, Malloy argued that the dominant methodology of Law and Economics is immoral. Malloy likened it to the Frankenstein Monster – an unholy, undead abomination that can go berserk despite its ostensibly benign provenience. Malloy claimed that wealth maximization applied to social discourse ‘reduces people to an human existence to imaginary variables for calculation’.
Recent critics have called attention to the alienation of contemporary academics from broad currents of intellectual activity in public culture. The general complaint is that intellectuals are finding a professional home in institutions of higher learning, insulated from the concerns and interests of a wider reading audience. The demands of professional expertise do not encourage academics to work as public intellectuals or to take up social, literary, or political matters in imaginative and perspicuous ways. More problematic is the relative absence (...) of religion in the writings of those who aspire to work as public intellectuals. This essay reviews recent attempts by William Dean, Cornel West, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Stephen Carter, and Robin Lovin to remedy the problem of academic alienation and to address the place of religion in American life. (shrink)
Let us take, as a starting assumption, the Benthamic understanding of the point of law: We should make laws that will increase the overall happiness of the people whose lives are affected by them. But how should we go about doing that? And more particularly, what role, if any, should our held desires play in the task of ascertaining the content of our happiness? And when, if ever, should we defer to the desires of the affected masses, and when should (...) we not, in determining what will or will not promote happiness? The classical, or “hedonic,” utilitarians of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries suggested a number of answers to these related questions, of which I will mention two. (shrink)
Abstract This paper deals with the asymmetrical manner in which people perceive norms: sometimes these are seen as mere restraints, and sometimes??from a higher viewpoint??they can be seen as constituent elements in the structure of a group. A model of this is offered from ethology??the process of boundary stabilization in a nesting colony of gulls. Symbolic activity is often associated with such boundaries and this too has a two?level appearance. The creative achievement of language is discussed. A parallel is then (...) elaborated (using a passage from Michael Polanyi) between the work of a scientist (who articulates in language the working principles of natural phenomena) and that of a judge (who articulates the hidden tensions, principles and values at work in human society). Polanyi's account of tacit and explicit knowledge is then seen to be similar to Ronald Dworkin's view of the judicial process. This is in marked contrast to the still popular ?positivist? view of law. An educational corollary is important: that extensive practical experience of the processes of order, in family, school etc., is an essential precondition for any theoretical discussion of values, principles or rules. (shrink)
Practical medical decisions are closely integrated with ethical and religious beliefs in the Philippines. This is shown in a survey of Filipino physicians' attitudes towards severely compromised neonates. This is also the reason why the ethical analysis of critical care practices must be situated within the context of local culture. Kagandahang loob and kusang loob are indigenous Filipino ethical concepts that provide a framework for the analysis of several critical care practices. The practice of taking-from-the-rich-to-give-to-the-poor in public hospitals is not (...) compatible with these concepts. The legislated definition of death and other aspects of the Philippine Law on Organ Transplants also fail to be compatible with these concepts. Many ethical issues that arise in a critical care setting have their roots outside the seemingly isolated clinical setting. Critical care need not apply only to individuals in a serious clinical condition. Vulnerable populations require critical attention because potent threats to their lives exist in the water that they drink and the air that they breathe. We cannot ignore these threa ts even as we move inevitably towards a technologically dependent, highly commercialized approach to health management. (shrink)
This chapter provides a general overview and introduction to the law and ethics of virtual sexual assault. It offers a definition of the phenomenon and argues that there are six interesting types. It then asks and answers three questions: (i) should we criminalise virtual sexual assault? (ii) can you be held responsible for virtual sexual assault? and (iii) are there issues with 'consent' to virtual sexual activity that might make it difficult to prosecute or punish virtual sexual assault?
Gibson, Robin The concept of dying by euthanasia and indeed physician-assisted suicide is a highly emotive one. Assisted dying arouses intense feelings both in favour and against. The prospect of enduring a long drawn out dying process generates both fear and apprehension in both terminally ill and chronically ill patients. Many of them wish to choose the time and manner of their death. On the other side, passionate, mainly religious groups have campaigned long and hard to deny suffering people (...) assistance to die. As the law currently stands in Australia, there is a complete ban on both euthanasia and assistance in suicide. Even following a request by a patient, a medical practitioner who directly takes the life of his or her patient, can be charged with murder or manslaughter. Despite the repeal of laws that forbade committing or attempting to commit suicide, laws still exist which proscribe the provision of assistance to another to commit or attempt to commit suicide. (shrink)
Are religion and public life really separate spheres of human activity? Should they be? In this book, Robin W. Lovin criticizes contemporary political and theological views that separate religion from public life as though these areas were systematically opposed and makes the case for a more integrated understanding of modern society. Such an understanding can be underpinned by 'Christian realism', which encourages responsible engagement with social and political problems from a distinctive perspective. Drawing on the work of Rawls, Galston, (...) Niebuhr, and Bonhoeffer, Lovin argues that the responsibilities of everyday life are a form of politics. Political commitment is no longer confined to the sphere of law and government, and a global ethics arises from the decisions of individuals. This book will foster a better understanding of contemporary political thought among theologians and will introduce readers primarily interested in political thought to relevant developments in recent theology. (shrink)
All of us are entitled to the protections of law against violence, to a high quality education, to decent employment that respects our dignity, and to necessary assistance with our caregiving. Our civil rights are our rights to the protections of ordinary law - not constitutional law, and not only antidiscrimination law - that will ensure that we can participate in civil society, and hence lead flourishing lives. In this innovative work, Robin L. West looks back to nineteenth-century Civil (...) Rights Acts to argue that the point of civil rights law is not only non-discrimination, but also to assure that all of us receive the protection of legal rights that promote human flourishing. Since the 1960s, Supreme Court decisions on civil rights issues have focused on non-discrimination and thus have 'hollowed out' this broader meaning of civil rights law. This book reconceives civil rights as a set of legal guarantees that all will be included in the legal, political, economic and social projects central to civil society. (shrink)
The Concept of Law is the most important and original work of legal philosophy written this century. First published in 1961, it is considered the masterpiece of H.L.A. Hart's enormous contribution to the study of jurisprudence and legal philosophy. Its elegant language and balanced arguments have sparked wide debate and unprecedented growth in the quantity and quality of scholarship in this area--much of it devoted to attacking or defending Hart's theories. Principal among Hart's critics is renowned lawyer and political philosopher (...) Ronald Dworkin who in the 1970s and 80s mounted a series of challenges to Hart's Concept of Law. It seemed that Hart let these challenges go unanswered until, after his death in 1992, his answer to Dworkin's criticism was discovered among his papers. In this valuable and long-awaited new edition Hart presents an Epilogue in which he answers Dworkin and some of his other most influential critics including Fuller and Finnis. Written with the same clarity and candor for which the first edition is famous, the Epilogue offers a sharper interpretation of Hart's own views, rebuffs the arguments of critics like Dworkin, and powerfully asserts that they have based their criticisms on a faulty understanding of Hart's work. Hart demonstrates that Dworkin's views are in fact strikingly similar to his own. In a final analysis, Hart's response leaves Dworkin's criticisms considerably weakened and his positions largely in question. Containing Hart's final and powerful response to Dworkin in addition to the revised text of the original Concept of Law, this thought-provoking and persuasively argued volume is essential reading for lawyers and philosophers throughout the world. (shrink)
In this paper we introduce the nascent literature on Moral Uncertainty Theory and explore its application to the criminal law. Moral Uncertainty Theory seeks to address the question of what we ought to do when we are uncertain about what to do because we are torn between rival moral theories. For instance, we may have some credence in one theory that tells us to do A but also in another that tells us to do B. We examine how we might (...) decide whether or not to criminalize some conduct when we are unsure as to whether or not the conduct is morally permitted, and whether or not it is permissible to criminalize the conduct. We also look at how we might make sentencing decisions under moral uncertainty. We argue that Moral Uncertainty Theory can be an illuminating way to address these questions, but find that doing so is a lot more complicated than applying Moral Uncertainty Theory to individual conduct. (shrink)
This Article falls into three general parts. The first part starts with an important question: is the insanity defense constitutionally required? The United States Supreme Court will finally try to answer this question next term in the case of Kahler v. Kansas. -/- I say “finally” because the Court refused to answer this question in 2012 when it denied certiorari to an appeal brought by John Joseph Delling, a severely mentally ill defendant who was sentenced to life in prison three (...) years earlier for two murders. Delling never had the opportunity to plead the insanity defense because his home state, Idaho, had abolished it in 1982. -/- By depriving Delling of the right to plead insanity, Idaho violated Delling’s Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and his Eighth Amendment right against “cruel and unusual” punishment. Naturally, the same is true for many other mentally ill and disabled defendants who have been prosecuted in Idaho and in the other three states that have abolished the insanity defense: Kansas, Montana, and Utah. -/- The second general part of this Article notes an insight that I stumbled upon in the course of researching the first part: the insanity defense and the mistake of law defense both require ignorance of the law, what I refer to as “normative ignorance.” Indeed, normative ignorance is what makes both of these defenses exculpatory in the first place. -/- Given this critical connection, there is a way for Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah to resume compliance with the Constitution. Instead of reinstating the insanity defense per se, which might be politically unpopular, they should just broaden their mistake of law defense to include normative ignorance caused by cognitive incapacity that is itself caused by mental illness or disability. -/- Still, this Article is not merely directed at these four western states. It is directed at the other forty-six states as well. Because they already have an insanity defense, they need not incorporate it into their mistake of law defense. But in the third general part, I will argue that they should still expand their mistake of law defense to cover defendants who either lack a reasonable opportunity to learn the law or reasonably but mistakenly infer from widely accepted norms or ethics that their conduct is lawful. (shrink)
Plato’s Laws include what H.L.A. Hart called the ‘classical thesis’ about the nature and role of law: the law exists to see that one leads a morally good life. This paper develops Hart’s brief remarks by providing a panorama of the classical thesis in Laws. This is done by considering two themes: (1) the extent to which Laws is paternalistic, and (2) the extent to which Laws is naturalistic. These themes are significant for a number of reasons, including because they (...) show how Laws might be viewed as a sophisticated forerunner of natural law theory. The upshot is that Plato's metaphysical commitments about legal ontology allow him to base the truth of legal propositions on the way they relate to the truth of corresponding moral propositions. (shrink)
This book articulates a systematic vision of an international legal system grounded in the commitment to justice for all persons. It provides a probing exploration of the moral issues involved in disputes about secession, ethno-national conflict, "the right of self-determination of peoples," human rights, and the legitimacy of the international legal system itself. Buchanan advances vigorous criticisms of the central dogmas of international relations and international law, arguing that the international legal system should make justice, not simply peace among states, (...) a primary goal, and rejecting the view that it is permissible for a state to conduct its foreign policies exclusively according to what is in the "national interest." He also shows that the only alternatives are not rigid adherence to existing international law or lawless chaos in which the world's one superpower pursues its own interests without constraints. This book not only criticizes the existing international legal order, but also offers morally defensible and practicable principles for reforming it. Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination will find a broad readership in political science, international law, and political philosophy. (shrink)
I have argued that law is a genre of institutionalized abstract artifact, meaning that laws are purposive products of human creation designed to signal norms of behavior with respect to them. Its institutional nature is seen in the fact that it is a system of artificial statuses that convey deontic powers to status holders understood in their institutional roles. Following Searle in explaining institutions, however, is also to see the institution as the 'continuing possibility of a practice.' Hence there is (...) no tension in seeing law as both a practice and a genre of artifact. (shrink)
A spectre is haunting legal positivists – and perhaps jurisprudes more generally – the spectre of the normativity of law. Whatever else law is, it is sometimes said, it is normative, and so whatever else a philosophical account of law accounts for, it should account for the normativity of law. But law is at least partially a social matter, its content at least partially determined by social practices. And how can something social and descriptive in this down-to-earth kind of way (...) be normative? This is presumably a problem for any theory of law, but it is especially acute for legal positivism, according to which (roughly speaking) all there is to facts about legality are such descriptive social facts. If this is so, the thought goes, the task of accommodating the law’s normativity immediately becomes both more daunting, and more urgent. Unfortunately, though, it is entirely unclear what the problem of the normativity of law is supposed to be. Indeed, I suspect that there is no one problem here, as different people seem to have in mind different problems when they use this unhelpful phrase. At least one family of issues people seem to have in mind when they talk about the normativity of law is a host of issues pertaining to the reason-giving force of the law. The law, it is sometimes said, gives reasons for action, and a theory of law should accommodate this obvious fact. But even when we focus just on questions regarding the reason-giving force of the law (and from now on I will restrict myself to just those, leaving other things people may have in mind when they talk about the normativity of law for another occasion), it is still not clear what the problem is. Indeed, my main purpose in this paper is to make some progress in understanding the relevant question here. And my conclusion is going to be somewhat skeptical: Once we are clear on what reason-giving in general consists in, and on what reason-giving powers the law actually has, there is not much by way of a problem here that needs to be solved, not a deep and interesting phenomenon here that theories of law need to accommodate, and that therefore places adequacy constraints on plausible theories of the nature of law.. (shrink)
In this ground-breaking article submitted for publication in mid-1986, Lucinda Vandervort creates a radically new and comprehensive theory of sexual consent as the unequivocal affirmative communication of voluntary agreement. She argues that consent is a social act of communication with normative effects. To consent is to waive a personal legal right to bodily integrity and relieve another person of a correlative legal duty. If the criminal law is to protect the individual’s right of sexual self-determination and physical autonomy, rather than (...) simply to regulate the type and degree of force that may be used to obtain compliance from a victim, the point of reference must be the individual complainant, as a person who makes choices, not social norms or objective tests based on the ordinary person. To determine whether consent is voluntary, attention must be directed to the presence or absence of factors that had a coercive impact on the individual complainant, a specific person with a collection of social, cultural, and psychological experiences, needs, fears, values, and priorities. Individuals have the right to exercise self-determination in accordance with their own values and perceptions, not those of a mythical victim. Accordingly, Vandervort argues that the prosecution may show either refusal, the absence of affirmative voluntary agreement (including passivity or the absence of consent due to unconsciousness), or circumstances that invalidate any apparent consent. Any of these prove the absence of consent for the purposes of establishing the actus reus of sexual assault. -/- The definition of consent as the affirmative communication of voluntary agreement is also shown to have a variety of implications for the interpretation and application of the law of sexual assault and the handling of evidentiary issues at trial in sexual assault cases. Key among these is the pivotal significance of the legal definition of consent as a tool to bar availability of the defence of “mistaken belief in consent.” Vandervort argues that in many cases the defence of “mistaken belief in consent” is based on ignorance of the law of consent, mistake about the legal definition of consent, or a failure to appreciate the legal significance of facts that are well-known, and not on a mistaken belief in an erroneous set of facts. The broad proposition asserted here is that a statutory criminal law is enforceable only if all defences based directly or indirectly on belief in the validity of extra-legal norms that authorize infringement of rights protected by the criminal law are barred. This proposition and the characterization of some mistakes about consent as legal, not factual, are also shown to be useful to exclude rape-myths and stereotypical assumptions---the stuff of which “social” definitions of consent have long been constructed---from the decision-making process at trial. -/- . (shrink)
This article examines the development of affirmative sexual consent in Canadian jurisprudence and legal theory and its adoption in Canadian law. Affirmative sexual consent requirements were explicitly proposed in Canadian legal literature in 1986, codified in the 1992 Criminal Code amendments, and recognized as an essential element of the common law and statutory definitions of sexual consent by the Supreme Court of Canada in a series of cases decided since 1994. Although sexual violence and non-enforcement of sexual assault laws are (...) worldwide phenomena, the international scholarly literature reflects limited awareness of these developments in Canadian law. This article remedies that gap in the literature. The Canadian experience with the definition of sexual consent as communicated “voluntary agreement” demonstrates the value of this conceptualization of consent; the definition provides a well-defined set of nondiscretionary reference points for legal analysis of the facts in sexual assault offenses. The effect is to facilitate effective enforcement of the sexual assault laws and affirm the right to sexual autonomy, sexual self-determination, and equality, consistent with fundamental principles of individual human rights. For all these reasons, familiarity with the Canadian experience may be useful to those engaged with the reform of rape and sexual assault laws in other jurisdictions. (shrink)