July 28, 2008

The Non-Autonomy of Law

James Boyd White, University of Michigan Law School, has published "Establishing Relations between Law and Other Forms of Thought and Language," forthcoming in 1 Erasmus Law Review (2008). Here is the abstract.
The law does not, and could not, exist in an intellectual or linguistic vacuum. No one believes that the law is or should be impervious to other languages, other bodies of knowledge. In this sense the argument about the 'autonomy' of law is an empty one: law cannot be, should not be, perfectly autonomous, unconnected with any other system of thought and expression; yet it plainly has it own identity as a discourse, it own intellectual and linguistic habits, which it is our task as lawyers to understand and develop. It follows that an essential topic of legal thought is the proper relation between law and other forms of thought and expression - a topic that is important, difficult and full of interest. In this paper, Professor White compares three ways in which the law is related to other fields: translation (as in the use of expert testimony), disciplinary imperialism (as in law and economics), and comparison of modes of thought and expression (as in law and literature).

Download the article from SSRN here.

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