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The Challenge of Building an Inter-Communal Rule of Law in Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona


Chimène I. Keitner


University of California Hastings College of the Law

March 27, 2010

Law & Literature, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 53, 2003

Abstract:     
This article uses Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel Ramona to ground an exploration of the problems associated with building what I call an "inter-communal" rule of law. A close reading of Jackson's text reveals a rudimentary philosophy of law comprising three central tenets: (1) a strong element of natural law thinking, which enables Jackson to construct an ideal of justice based on her conception of all individuals as members of a common humanity; (2) a critique of misunderstanding, most often rooted in ignorance, as a central stumbling-block to establishing a common legal system that unites different communities within a single territory; and (3) a deeper critique of incommensurability the fundamental incompatibility of perspectives and values as the greatest threat to the long-term possibility of an inter-communal rule of law, and consequently to the harmonious coexistence of different communities within a single territory.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: rule of law, philosophy of law, law and literature

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Date posted: October 10, 2006 ; Last revised: November 13, 2012

Suggested Citation

Keitner, Chimène I., The Challenge of Building an Inter-Communal Rule of Law in Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona (March 27, 2010). Law & Literature, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 53, 2003. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=933736

Contact Information

Chimène I. Keitner (Contact Author)
University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )
200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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