Law's Task: The Tragic Circle of Law, Justice and Human Suffering, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Law's Task

The Tragic Circle of Law, Justice and Human Suffering, 1st Edition

By Louis E. Wolcher


278 pages

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What is the ultimate task of law? This deceptively simple question guides this volume towards a radically original philosophical interpretation of law and justice. Weaving together the philosophical, jurisprudential and ethical problems suggested by five general terms - thinking, human suffering, legal meaning, time and tragedy - the book places the idea of law's ultimate task in the context of what actually happens when people seek to do justice and enforce legal rights in a world that is inflected by the desperation and suffering of the many. It traces the rule of law all the way down to its most fundamental level: the existence of universal human suffering and how it is that law-doers inflict or tolerate that suffering.


'This is a ground-breaking work of erudition, empathy and thinking. Wolcher combines seamlessly analytical and continental philosophy to re-imagine the fundamentals of law and jurisprudence. Law's empire is not founded on reason, utility or need but on human suffering. In forgetting this, law increases suffering while jurisprudence legitimises it by concealing the tragic springs of human action. "Pathei mathos" (learn from suffering) said the Greeks. Law's Task reminds us of the centrality of this insight and shows that despite the attempt to obscure its importance it retains fully its relevance and force. This book proves Wolcher to be the most important, imaginative and critical American legal philosopher.' Costas Douzinas, Birkbeck College, UK

About the Author

Louis E. Wolcher is Charles I. Stone Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, USA. Professor Wolcher's primary research interests are in the fields of philosophy of law, legal and political theory, philosophy of language, and human rights.

About the Series

Applied Legal Philosophy

Applied Legal Philosophy
The principal objective of this series is to encourage the publication of books which adopt a theoretical approach to the study of particular areas or aspects of law, or deal with general theories of law in a way which is directed at issues of practical, moral and political concern in specific legal contexts. The general approach is both analytical and critical and relates to the socio-political background of law reform issues. This series includes studies of all the main areas of law, presented in a manner which relates to the concerns of specialist legal academics and practitioners. Each book makes an original contribution to an area of legal study while being comprehensible to those engaged in a wide variety of disciplines. Their legal content is principally Anglo-American, but a wide-ranging comparative approach is encouraged and authors are drawn from a variety of jurisdictions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Jurisprudence