In Law’s Meaning of Life, Ngaire Naffine pursues the question, ‘Who is Law For?’. In this critical review, I argue that the question is ill-formed, as the law’s conception the person rightly varies from one context to another. I further argue that answering questions about the nature of persons would not help us to resolve pressing ethical and legal dilemmas. Naffine portrays a variety of prominent theorists (e.g., Ronald Dworkin, Peter Singer, John Finnis) as disagreeing incommensurably on the nature of personhood. I challenge her reading of these thinkers, showing, inter alia, that Dworkin eschews theorization about personhood, and that Singer wishes to extend moral and legal consideration to non-persons. In so doing, I show that their views are commensurable.
Thomas, Bryan, Review of Ngaire Naffine, Law’s Meaning of Life: Philosophy, Religion, Darwin and
The Legal Person (April 21, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1593760 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1593760