Speech, Silence, and Ethical Lives in the Law

Robin L. West

Georgetown University Law Center

May 25, 2011

Michigan Law Review, Vol. 105, No. 7, 2007
Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 11-61

As his many appreciative readers know, James Boyd White brought his learning to bear on the relation between ethical living and ethical speaking, and particularly as it pertains to how we live and speak in law. His prodigious writing, teaching, and speaking career, as far as I can tell, was motivated by a singular, passionate belief: that the human capacity for language can and should serve as a bridge from mind to mind and spirit to spirit, so that we might cohabit the earth not only peaceably, but with the pleasures and grace of each other's company. Language, White taught, can both facilitate friendship across the space that divides us as individuals, and create a just and lively cooperation across the oceans that divide our nations, our beliefs, and our communal codes for living. Ethical speech in law, White argued across the span of four decades, can address injustice, forge bonds of shared struggle, unearth a shared human essence across difference, ease suffering, create a human community, and articulate both our promises to each other and our hopes that we can live up to them.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 6

Keywords: Book Review, James Boyd White, Ethical Speech, Social Justice, Legal Profession

JEL Classification: K00

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Date posted: May 28, 2011  

Suggested Citation

West, Robin L., Speech, Silence, and Ethical Lives in the Law (May 25, 2011). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 105, No. 7, 2007; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 11-61. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1847997

Contact Information

Robin L. West (Contact Author)
Georgetown University Law Center ( email )
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
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