1st Edition

Law and the Passions Why Emotion Matters for Justice

By Julia Shaw Copyright 2020
    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    Engaging with the underlying social context in which emotions are a motivational

    force, Law and the Passions provides a uniquely inclusive commentary on the significance

    and influence of emotions in the history and continuing development of

    legal judgment, policy formation, legal practice and legal dogma.


    Although the emotionality of the law and the use of emotional tropes in legal

    discourse has become an established focus in recent scholarship, the extent to

    which emotion and the passions have informed decision-making, decision-avoidance

    and legal reasoning – rather than as simply an adjunct – is still a matter for

    critical analysis. As evidenced in a range of illustrative legal cases, emotions have

    been instrumental in the evolution of key legal principles and have produced many

    controversial judgments. Addressing the latent influence of fear, hate, love and

    compassion, the book explores the mutability of law and its transformative power,

    especially when faced with fluctuating social mores. The textual nature of law and

    the impact of literary forms on legal actors are also critically examined to further

    elucidate the idea of law-making as both rational and emotional, and significantly

    as an essential activity of the empathic imagination. To this end, it is suggested

    that critical scholarship on law, the passions and emotions not only advances our

    understanding of the inner workings of law, it constitutes a fundamental part of

    our moral reasoning, and has the capacity to articulate the conditions for a more

    dynamic, adaptable, ethical and effective legal institution.


    This interdisciplinary book will be of interest to scholars and students in the

    fields of law and literature, legal theory, legal philosophy, law and the humanities,

    legal aesthetics, sociology of law, politics, law and policy, human rights, general jurisprudence

    and social justice, as well as cultural studies.

    Table of Contents



    Chapter 1

    No slave to reason: the significance of the passions in mapping the legal landscape

    The impossibility of reason without passion: I feel, therefore I am

    Robes and lobes: the convergence of law and neuroscience

    The logos of law and moral judgment as an emotional lexis

    Turtles (and the normativity of law) all the way down

    Intersubjectivity, law’s unconscious, and the ethical authority of the human face

    The life of law as the life of reason and the passions

    Chapter 2

    Law, emotions and aesthetic justice

    The aesthetic influence on legal sensibilities

    Narrative creativity as the ‘life of law’ and the ‘law of life’

    From expressivist aesthetics to expressivist ethics

    Poetry in (e)motion: expressing the inexpressible

    Through the looking-glass or the mirror crack’d

    Chapter 3

    Law as Fear

    Fear and evaluative judgments

    Fear-mongering and the media: implications for justice

    Where Judges fear to tread: law and the politics of fear

    Fear, fetish, fantasy and legal framing strategies

    Legal truths and truisms, moral metaphors and moral panic

    Reimagining the foundations for justice: overcoming the new politics of fear

    Chapter 4

    Law as Hate

    Law’s symbolic violence: use of linguistic coercion in the constitution of the legal order

    Law’s truth and the Tinkerbell Effect

    The (in-)visibility of law: ‘secret’ justice is justice denied

    Law as hate: killing in the name of the law

    On ideology and language in the classification of legal subjects: ‘them’ and ‘us’

    Reimagining the Other as self: the promise of justice fulfilled

    Chapter 5

    Law as Compassion

    From vengeance to compassion: the two faces of ‘justice’

    Compassionate justice and the ethical significance of vulnerability

    ‘Truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing’: ‘enlarged’ (empathic) perception motivates compassionate judgment

    Compassion and the criminal justice system

    Compassion without justice is mere sentimentality however justice without compassion is but tyranny

    Chapter 6

    Law as Love

    Determining the ‘right kind of love’: love as a moral emotion

    Love enriches and extends the scope of the lawyer’s question ‘who is my neighbour?’

    Law and love: against the entitlement of wealth and the obstruction of justice

    The heart as law’s attorney: there can be no justice without love

    The imperative of a sentimental education: in recognition of law as an activity of the heart, soul and intellect



    Julia J.A. Shaw is Professor of Law at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Her

    interdisciplinary scholarship spans legal theory, law and the humanities, critical and

    cultural legal studies, and human rights. Recent publications include ‘Law and the

    Literary Imagination: the contribution of literature to modern legal scholarship’ in

    The Palgrave Handbook of Philosophy and Literature (2018); ‘From Beethoven to

    Bowie: identity framing, social justice and the sound of law’ in International Journal

    for the Semiotics of Law 31(2) 2018; Jurisprudence (3rd edition, Pearson 2018)

    and Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Justice and the Global Food Supply Chain

    (Routledge, 2019).