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The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought

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The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought

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Legal Rights

Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors

The idea of legal rights today enjoys virtually universal appeal, yet all too often the meaning and significance of rights are poorly understood. The purpose of this volume is to clarify the subject of legal rights by drawing on both historical and philosophical legal scholarship to bridge the gap between these two genres--a gap that has divorced abstract and normative treatments of rights from an understanding of their particular social and cultural contexts. Legal Rights: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives shows that the meaning and extent of rights has been dramatically expanded in this century, though along with the widespread and flourishing popularity of rights, voices of criticism have increasingly been raised. The authors take up the question of the foundation of rights and explore the postmodern challenges to efforts to ground rights outside of history and language. Drawing rich historical analysis and careful philosophical inquiry into productive dialogue, this book explores the many facets of rights at the end of the twentieth century. In these essays, potentially abstract debates come alive as they are related to the struggles of real people attempting to cope with, and improve, their living conditions. The significance of legal rights is measured not just in terms of philosophical categories or as a collection of histories, but as they are experienced in the lives of men and women seeking to come to terms with rights in contemporary life. Contributors are Hadley Arkes, William E. Cain, Thomas Haskell, Morton J. Horwitz, Annabel Patterson, Michael J. Perry, Pierre Schlag, and Jeremy Waldron. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College. Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy, Amherst College.

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Lives in the Law

Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey, Editors

The essays look at the consequences that legal practice has on the lives of its practitioners as well as on the individual legal subject and on the shape of shared identities. These essays challenge liberal and communitarian notions of what it means to live the law. In the first of the essays, Pnina Lahav presents a study of the Chicago Seven Trial to paint a picture of the law's power to serve as a site for the definition of a collective group identity. In contrast, Sarah Gordon focuses on the experience of an individual legal subject, namely, the defendant in the Hester Vaughn trial, a notorious nineteenth-century case of infanticide. Frank Munger looks at how law constructs the identity of women and explores the strategies by which poor women resist the law's construction of their dependency. In the fourth essay, Vicki Schultz offers a moral vision of equality that straddles the liberal and communitarian positions with her articulation of the concept of a "life's work." Lastly, Annette Wieviorka examines the recent trial of Maurice Papon for complicity in crimes against humanity to reveal how the very identity of a nation--in this case, France--can be defined through juridical and legal acts. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College. Lawrence Douglas is Associate Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College. Martha Umphrey is Assistant Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College.

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The Place of Law

Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey, Editors

It has long been standard practice in legal studies to identify the place of law within the social order. And yet, as The Place of Law suggests, the meaning of the concept of "the place of law" is not self-evident. This book helps us see how the law defines territory and attempts to keep things in place; it shows how law can be, and is, used to create particular kinds of places -- differentiating, for example, individual property from public land. And it looks at place as a metaphor that organizes the way we see the world. This important new book urges us to ask about the usefulness of metaphors of place in the design of legal regulation.

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The Rhetoric of Law

Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors

Law is a profession of words. Simultaneously celebratory of great prose and dogmatically insistent on precise usage, law is a stage for verbal virtuosity, linguistic mastery, and persuasive argument. Yet the linguistic display is not without substance: the words of law take on a seriousness virtually unparalleled in any other domain of human experience. The Rhetoric of Law examines the words used in legal institutions and proceedings and explores both the literary aspect of legal life and the role of rhetoric in shaping the life of the law. The essays in The Rhetoric of Law reflect the diverse influences of literary theory, feminism, and interpretive social science. Yet all call into question the rigid separation of rhetoric and justice that has been characteristic of the philosophical inquiry as far back as Plato. As a result, they open the way for a new understanding of law--an understanding that takes language to be neither esoteric nor frivolous and that views rhetoric as essential to the pursuit of justice. This volume provides a bracing reminder of the possibilities and problems of law, of its capacity to engage the best of human character, and of its vulnerability to cynical manipulation. Contributors are Lawrence Douglas, Robert A. Ferguson, Peter Goodrich, Barbara Johnson, Thomas R. Kearns, Austin Sarat, Adam Thurschwell, James Boyd White, and Lucie White. Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, Amherst College. Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy, Amherst College.

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