1st Edition

Justice and the Slaughter Bench Essays on Law's Broken Dialectic

By Alan Norrie Copyright 2017
    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this follow-up to Law and the Beautiful Soul, Alan Norrie addresses the split between legal and ethical judgment. Shaped by history, law’s formalism both eschews and requires ethics. The first essays consider legal form in its practical aspect, and the ethical problems encountered (‘law’s architectonic’). The later essays look at the complex underlying relation between law and ethics (‘law’s constellation’). In Hegel’s philosophy, legal and ethical judgment are brought together in a rational totality. Here, the synthesis remains unachieved, the dialectic systematically ‘broken’. These essays cover such issues as criminal law’s ‘general part’, homicide reform, self-defence, euthanasia, and war guilt. They interrogate legal problems, consider law’s method, and its place in the social whole. The analysis of law’s historicity, its formalism and its relation to ethics contributes importantly to central questions in law, legal theory and criminal justice.

    1. How Does Law Judge, How Should it be Judged?  Part 1: Law's Architectonic  2. Citizenship, Authoritarianism and the Changing Shape of Criminal Law  3. Between Orthodox Subjectivism and Moral Contextualism: Intention and the Law Commission Report  4. The Problem of Mistaken Self-defence: Citizenship, Chiasmus, and Legal Form  5. Legal Form and Moral Judgment: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide  6. Alan Brudner and the Dialectics of Criminal Law  Part 2: Law's Constellation  7. Justice on the Slaughter-bench: The Problem of War Guilt in Arendt and Jaspers  8. Ethics and History: Can Critical Lawyers Talk of Good and Evil?  9. Law, Ethics and Socio-History: The Case of Freedom  10. Responsibility and the Metaphysics of Justice


    Alan Norrie is Professor of Law and former Head of the Law School at Warwick University. He has held chairs at Queen Mary and King’s College, London, and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

    'An indispensable starting point for those interested in what a genuinely critical, philosophically-engaged and social-theoretical approach to law looks like. It is the most recent instalment in a far-reaching, illuminating and important project that seeks to chart both law's nature and its place in the ethical landscape.'

    Professor William Lucy, Durham University, UK.

    ‘Alan Norrie is one of the leading voices in the critical analysis of criminal law. In this book he brings together a collection of recent essays and articles that develop two distinctive themes in his work to date. The first is the critique of what he calls law’s ‘architectonic’ - the internal structure of the criminal law and in particular its structural incapacity to do the work of moral judgement without creating constant tension and instability in its legal doctrine. Here the focus is on Norrie’s challenge to liberal legal theory. The second is the exploration of what he calls law’s ‘constellation’, which is to say an ethical critique of legal justice in its wider social, historical setting. Here the focus shifts to Norrie’s challenge to critical theory. Together the two themes constitute a project of ‘Judging law’s judgment’, as the title of his introductory chapter has it.…Justice and the Slaughter Bench offers a fascinating search for a new philosophical ground for criminal justice, one that transcends the limitations of liberalism. With the advanced state of decay of the liberal state now palpable, there are few more urgent tasks for legal theory.’

    Peter Ramsay, Modern Law Review