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Law's Violence

Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors

Publication Year: 1993

In bringing together accomplished and thoughtful scholars of different disciplines, with a command of literature ranging from the legal to the literary, and in relating the works to the central arguments of the late Professor Robert Cover, Sarat and Kearns have created a first-rate up-to-date exposition of this important and complicated issue, namely, how to understand better the violence implicit and explicit in law.--Legal Studies Forum The relationship between law and violence is made familiar to us in vivid pictures of police beating suspects, the large and growing prison population, and the tenacious attachment to capital punishment in the United States. Yet the link between law and violence and the ways that law manages to impose pain and death while remaining aloof and unstained are an unexplored mystery. Each essay in this volume considers the question of how violence done by and in the name of the law differs from illegal or extralegal violence--or, indeed, if they differ at all. Each author draws on a distinctive disciplinary tradition-- literature, history, anthropology, philosophy, political science, or law. Yet each reminds us that law, constituted in response to the metaphorical violence of the state of nature, is itself a doer of literal violence. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Chair of the Program in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, Amherst College. Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy, Amherst College.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-22

In a previous book in this series, we noted the troubling lack of systematic thinking about the relationship of law and violence, and we argued that" ... the general link between law and violence and the ways that law manages to work its lethal will, to impose pain and death while remaining aloof and unstained by the deeds themselves ...

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The Declaration of War: Constitutional and Unconstitutional Violence

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pp. 23-76

Shortly before he died, Andrei Sakharov urged the president of the United States to formally renounce the strategic policy of presidential first-use of nuclear weapons. Although the president - drawing a photograph from his wallet - gave his personal assurance, what Sakharov ...

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Violence under the Law: A Judge’s Perspective

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pp. 77-104

The subject of this lecture series is Law's Violence, a concept provocatively surveyed by Robert Cover in 1986. 1 Professor Cover reminded us that, for all of the current emphasis on law as an articulation of society's norms or as an interpretative exercise on the judge's part or even as a creative dynamic between the law giver and the law receiver, law is fundamentally different from other kinds of communication ...

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Reading Violence

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pp. 105-140

While, for the most part, evolutionary approaches to the anthropology of law have dropped from a long period of fashion, one of their central premises remains alive in new venues. From Sir Henry Maine's interpretation of the transition from status to contract in Roman law, through Durkheim's more tentative essay on the diffuse...

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Time, Inequality, and Law’s Violence

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pp. 141-174

Describing the law as word may be to ignore, as Robert Cover pointed out in one of his last essays, the law as deed and the necessary bond between the two. His dominant image was the pyramid of carefully constructed state violence, at the apogee of which sits the judge.Judicial authority is transmitted down through the inferior layers of...

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Private Violence as Moral Action: The Law as Inspiration and Example

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pp. 175-210

In generating a "jurisprudence of violence," scholars tend to focus on the question of how law uses violence, and, in so doing, how law sustains its legitimacy by purporting to differentiate itself from violence. I Profs. Sarat and Kearns have posed a more specific question for those hoping to develop this jurisprudence-namely, how law, in...

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Making Peace with Violence: Robert Cover on Law and Legal Theory

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pp. 211-250

"Violence," Walter Benjamin argues, "violence crowned by fate, is the origin of law . . . . " 1 Violence is a perverse utopia of action without form and instinct without deliberation 2 from which all law-natural or positive - is the fall. 3 Absent the threat, prospect , or possibility ....


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pp. 251-252


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pp. 253-261

E-ISBN-13: 9780472023783
E-ISBN-10: 0472023780
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472083176
Print-ISBN-10: 0472083171

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 1993

Series Title: The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought