Here I Am: Illuminating and Delimiting Responsibility
Marinos Diamantides, ed., Levinas, Law, Politics (London: Routledge-Cavendish, 2007) 145-6
35 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2007
The ethics of Emmanuel Levinas and the law of negligence are in many ways surprisingly well-suited. Levinas offers a sustained meditation on the relationship of ethics, responsibility and justice, and he does so using precisely the language of the duty of care, of neighbourhood, and of proximity. ‘Perhaps because of current moral maxims in which the word neighbour occurs, we have ceased to be surprised by all that is involved in proximity and approach.’ Here then is a philosopher, largely unknown to doctrinal legal theory, who at last speaks the language of torts. This paper seeks to explore the connection between Levinas and doctrines of care and responsibility in the common law, struggling in particular with the relationship between ethics and law or politics, between the unlimited responsibility canvassed by Levinas and the necessity for limitation and definition embedded in legal forms.
Keywords: legal theory, duty of care, negligence, torts, Levinas, responsibility, legal ethics, law and politics
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