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Law and the Beautiful Soul

NCJ Number
Alan Norrie
Date Published
227 pages
This collection of essays by the author addresses the relationship between law as a social and historical institution and the moral judgments it is required to make.
Four key concepts are developed in the essays. One concept is that Western liberal law is essentially contradictory or antinomial, such that legal concepts are usually packaged in pairs characterized by contradictory and even opposing features on the legal question at issue. A second concept holds that this essential characteristic of Western liberal law is shaped by the particular socio-historical context of Western liberal societies, in which structural conflicts and contradictions are key elements. A third concept is that this shaping of liberal law critically influences and limits its ethical character and implications. The fourth concept is that law has a central role in structuring, shaping, and limiting the ethical possibilities in Western liberal societies. The author argues that the intent of Western liberal law is to prioritize "rights" without specifying in detail what is "good." By structuring and preserving rights, liberal law allows the flowering of multiple manifestations of what individuals and societies fashion as moral and good ("Beautiful Soul"). Those who would attempt to use law to create what some view as the "Beautiful Soul" will inevitably stunt and restrict the multifaceted beauty of what is good, when devised and expressed by those whose rights, preserved by law, nurture the expression of what diverse individuals perceive as "good." A bibliography of approximately 300 listings


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