Aesthetic Judgment and Legal Justification
SUNY Buffalo Law School
Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 43, pp. 79-112, 2008
Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-015
Although criticized as illegitimate, literary elements are necessary features of legal argument. In a modern liberal state, law motivates compliance by justifying controversial prescriptions as products of an appropriate process for representing the will of society. Yet because law constructs the will of individual and collective actors in representing them, its representations are necessarily figurative rather than mimetic. In evaluating law’s representation of society, citizens of the liberal state are also shaping their own ends. Such self-expressive choices, subjective but non-instrumental, entail aesthetic judgment. Thus the literary elements of rhetorical figuration and aesthetic appeal are fundamental, rather than merely ornamental, to legal justification.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: law and literature, jurisprudence, interpretationAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 9, 2011
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