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Bitter Knowledge

Learning Socratic Lessons of Disillusion and Renewal

Thomas D. Eisele

Thomas Eisele explores the premise that the Socratic method of inquiry need not teach only negative lessons (showing us what we do not know, but not what we do know). Instead, Eisele contends, the Socratic method is cyclical: we start negatively by recognizing our illusions, but end positively through a process of recollection performed in response to our disillusionment, which ultimately leads to renewal. Thus, a positive lesson about our resources as philosophical investigators, as students and teachers, becomes available to participants in Socrates’ robust conversational inquiry. Bitter Knowledge includes Eisele’s detailed readings of Socrates’ teaching techniques in three fundamental Platonic dialogues, Protagoras, Meno, and Theaetetus, as well as his engagement with contemporary authorities such as Gregory Vlastos, Martha Nussbaum, and Stanley Cavell. Written in a highly engaging and accessible style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, classics, law, rhetoric, and education.

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Black and Blue

African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party

Paul Frymer

In the 1930s, fewer than one in one hundred U.S. labor union members were African American. By 1980, the figure was more than one in five. Black and Blue explores the politics and history that led to this dramatic integration of organized labor. In the process, the book tells a broader story about how the Democratic Party unintentionally sowed the seeds of labor's decline.

The labor and civil rights movements are the cornerstones of the Democratic Party, but for much of the twentieth century these movements worked independently of one another. Paul Frymer argues that as Democrats passed separate legislation to promote labor rights and racial equality they split the issues of class and race into two sets of institutions, neither of which had enough authority to integrate the labor movement.

From this division, the courts became the leading enforcers of workplace civil rights, threatening unions with bankruptcy if they resisted integration. The courts' previously unappreciated power, however, was also a problem: in diversifying unions, judges and lawyers enfeebled them financially, thus democratizing through destruction. Sharply delineating the double-edged sword of state and legal power, Black and Blue chronicles an achievement that was as problematic as it was remarkable, and that demonstrates the deficiencies of race- and class-based understandings of labor, equality, and power in America.

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Black Rage Confronts the Law

Paul Harris

In 1971, Paul Harris pioneered the modern version of the black rage defense when he successfully defended a young black man charged with armed bank robbery. Dubbed one of the most novel criminal defenses in American history by Vanity Fair, the black rage defense is enormously controversial, frequently dismissed as irresponsible, nothing less than a harbinger of anarchy. Consider the firestorm of protest that resulted when the defense for Colin Ferguson, the gunman who murdered numerous passengers on a New York commuter train, claimed it was considering a black rage defense.

In this thought-provoking book, Harris traces the origins of the black rage defense back through American history, recreating numerous dramatic trials along the way. For example, he recounts in vivid detail how Clarence Darrow, defense attorney in the famous Scopes Monkey trial, first introduced the notion of an environmental hardship defense in 1925 while defending a black family who shot into a drunken white mob that had encircled their home.

Emphasizing that the black rage defense must be enlisted responsibly and selectively, Harris skillfully distinguishes between applying an environmental defense and simply blaming society, in the abstract, for individual crimes. If Ferguson had invoked such a defense, in Harris's words, it would have sent a superficial, wrong-headed, blame-everything-on-racism message. Careful not to succumb to easy generalizations, Harris also addresses the possibilities of a white rage defense and the more recent phenomenon of cultural defenses. He illustrates how a person's environment can, and does, affect his or her life and actions, how even the most rational person can become criminally deranged, when bludgeoned into hopelessness by exploitation, racism, and relentless poverty.

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Black Robes, White Coats

The Puzzle of Judicial Policymaking and Scientific Evidence

Rebecca C. Harris

Combining political analysis, scientific reasoning, and an in-depth study of specific state supreme court cases, Black Robes, White Coats is an interdisciplinary examination of the tradition of “gatekeeping,” the practice of deciding the admissibility of novel scientific evidence. Rebecca Harris systematically examines judicial policymaking in three areas —forensic DNA, polygraphs, and psychological syndrome evidence.

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Bodies of Law

Alan Hyde

The most basic assertions about our bodies--that they are ours and distinguish us from each other, that they are private and have boundaries, races, and genders--are all political theories, constructed in legal texts for political purposes. So argues Alan Hyde in this first account of the body in legal thought. Hyde demonstrates that none of the constructions of the body in legal texts are universal truths that rest solely on body experience. Drawing on an array of fascinating case material, he shows that legal texts can construct all kinds of bodies, including those that are not owned at all, that are just like other bodies, that are public, open, and accessible to others. Further, the language, images, and metaphors of the body in legal texts can often convince us of positions to which we would not assent as a matter of political theory.

Through analysis of legal texts, Hyde shows, for example, how law's words construct the vagina as the most searchable body part; the penis as entirely under mental control; the bone marrow that need not be shared with a half-sibling who will die without it; and urine that must be surrendered for drug testing in rituals of national purification. This book will interest anyone concerned with cultural studies, gender studies, ethnic studies, and political theory, or anyone who has heard the phrase "body constructed in discourse" and wants to see, step by step, exactly how this is done.

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The Body of Property

Antebellum American Fiction and the Phenomenology of Possession

Chad Luck

What does it mean to own something? How does a thing become mine? Liberal philosophy since John Locke has championed the salutary effects of private property but has avoided the more difficult questions of property’s ontology. Chad Luck argues that antebellum American literature is obsessed with precisely these questions._x000B__x000B_Reading slave narratives, gothic romances, city-mystery novels, and a range of other property narratives, Luck unearths a wide-ranging literary effort to understand the nature of ownership, the phenomenology of possession. In these antebellum texts, ownership is not an abstract legal form but a lived relation, a dynamic of embodiment emerging within specific cultural spaces—a disputed frontier, a city agitated by class conflict._x000B__x000B_Luck challenges accounts that map property practice along a trajectory of abstraction and “virtualization.” The book also reorients recent Americanist work in emotion and affect by detailing a broader phenomenology of ownership, one extending beyond emotion to such sensory experiences as touch, taste, and vision. This productive blend of phenomenology and history uncovers deep-seated anxieties—and enthusiasms—about property across antebellum culture

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Boilerplate

The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law

Margaret Jane Radin

Boilerplate--the fine-print terms and conditions that we become subject to when we click "I agree" online, rent an apartment, enter an employment contract, sign up for a cellphone carrier, or buy travel tickets--pervades all aspects of our modern lives. On a daily basis, most of us accept boilerplate provisions without realizing that should a dispute arise about a purchased good or service, the nonnegotiable boilerplate terms can deprive us of our right to jury trial and relieve providers of responsibility for harm. Boilerplate is the first comprehensive treatment of the problems posed by the increasing use of these terms, demonstrating how their use has degraded traditional notions of consent, agreement, and contract, and sacrificed core rights whose loss threatens the democratic order.

Margaret Jane Radin examines attempts to justify the use of boilerplate provisions by claiming either that recipients freely consent to them or that economic efficiency demands them, and she finds these justifications wanting. She argues, moreover, that our courts, legislatures, and regulatory agencies have fallen short in their evaluation and oversight of the use of boilerplate clauses. To improve legal evaluation of boilerplate, Radin offers a new analytical framework, one that takes into account the nature of the rights affected, the quality of the recipient's consent, and the extent of the use of these terms. Radin goes on to offer possibilities for new methods of boilerplate evaluation and control, among them the bold suggestion that tort law rather than contract law provides a preferable analysis for some boilerplate schemes. She concludes by discussing positive steps that NGOs, legislators, regulators, courts, and scholars could take to bring about better practices.

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Borrowing Constitutional Designs

Constitutional Law in Weimar Germany and the French Fifth Republic

Cindy Skach

After the collapse of communism, some thirty countries scrambled to craft democratic constitutions. Surprisingly, the constitutional model they most often chose was neither the pure parliamentary model found in most of Western Europe at the time, nor the presidential model of the Americas. Rather, it was semi-presidentialism--a rare model known more generally as the "French type." This constitutional model melded elements of pure presidentialism with those of pure parliamentarism. Specifically, semi-presidentialism combined a popularly elected head of state with a head of government responsible to a legislature.

Borrowing Constitutional Designs questions the hasty adoption of semi-presidentialism by new democracies. Drawing on rich case studies of two of the most important countries for European politics in the twentieth century--Weimar Germany and the French Fifth Republic--Cindy Skach offers the first theoretically focused, and historically grounded, analysis of semi-presidentialism and democracy. She demonstrates that constitutional choice matters, because under certain conditions, semi-presidentialism structures incentives that make democratic consolidation difficult or that actually contribute to democratic collapse. She offers a new theory of constitutional design, integrating insights from law and the social sciences. In doing so, Skach challenges both democratic theory and democratic practice. This book will be welcomed not only by scholars and practitioners of constitutional law but also by those in fields such as comparative politics, European politics and history, and international and public affairs.

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Bound by Our Constitution

Women, Workers, and the Minimum Wage

Vivien Hart

What difference does a written constitution make to public policy? How have women workers fared in a nation bound by constitutional principles, compared with those not covered by formal, written guarantees of fair procedure or equitable outcome? To investigate these questions, Vivien Hart traces the evolution of minimum wage policies in the United States and Britain from their common origins in women's politics around 1900 to their divergent outcomes in our day. She argues, contrary to common wisdom, that the advantage has been with the American constitutional system rather than the British.

Basing her analysis on primary research, Hart reconstructs legal strategies and policy decisions that revolved around the recognition of women as workers and the public definition of gender roles. Contrasting seismic shifts and expansion in American minimum wage policy with indifference and eventual abolition in Britain, she challenges preconceptions about the constraints of American constitutionalism versus British flexibility. Though constitutional requirements did block and frustrate women's attempts to gain fair wages, they also, as Hart demonstrates, created a terrain in the United States for principled debate about women, work, and the state--and a momentum for public policy--unparalleled in Britain. Hart's book should be of interest to policy, labor, women's, and legal historians, to political scientists, and to students of gender issues, law, and social policy.

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Brandishing the First Amendment

Commercial Expression in America

Tamara R. Piety

Over the past two decades, corporations and other commercial entities have used strategic litigation to win more expansive First Amendment protections for commercial speech—from the regulation of advertising to the role corporate interests play in the political process, most recently debated in the Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Tamara R. Piety, a nationally known critic of commercial and corporate speech, argues that such an expansion of First Amendment speech rights imperils public health, safety, and welfare; the reliability of commercial and consumer information; the stability of financial markets; and the global environment. Beginning with an evaluation of commonly evoked philosophical justifications for freedom of expression, Piety determines that, while these are appropriate for the protection of an individual’s rights, they should not be applied too literally to commercial expression because the corporate person is not the moral equivalent of the human person. She then gathers evidence from public relations and marketing, behavioral economics, psychology, and cognitive studies to show how overly permissive extensions of First Amendment protections to commercial expression limit governmental power to address some of the major social, economic, and environmental challenges of our time. “The timeliness of the topic and the provision of original positions are sure to make the book a valuable contribution that should draw much attention.” —Kevin W. Saunders, Michigan State University

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