Stanley Hauerwas and the Law: Is There Anything to Say?

14 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2011 Last revised: 29 Nov 2012

See all articles by John D. Inazu

John D. Inazu

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: October 6, 2011


This essay is the special editor's introduction to a forthcoming symposium in Law & Contemporary Problems that explores the work of theologian Stanley Hauerwas and its implications for law and legal scholarship. Although not well-known in the legal academy, Hauerwas is an important scholar and public intellectual who has written scores of books and hundreds of articles, been named "America's Best Theologian" by Time Magazine, and delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures. He has arguably “articulated the most coherent and influential political theology in and for the North American context” and has been “at the forefront of major transformations in theology” including virtue ethics, the role of narrative and community, and understandings of medicine and illness. The inattention to Hauerwas in legal scholarship is particularly odd given that he has written for decades about issues central to the law: violence, liberalism, bioethics, theories of disability, theories of interpretation, capital punishment, just war theory, reconciliation, public reason, patriotism, euthanasia, abortion, and religious freedom, to name only a few of the more obvious connections. And the general lack of familiarity with Hauerwas by legal scholars (even among many of those who write in the area of “law and religion”) has contributed to a growing divide. As Princeton’s Jeffrey Stout has observed, “[t]he more thoroughly Rawlsian our law schools and ethics centers become, the more radically Hauerwasian the theological schools become.”

This introductory essay is aimed at an audience largely unfamiliar with Hauerwas's thought. It situates the symposium essays and suggests why legal scholars ought to pay greater attention to his work. Symposium contributors include Michael Moreland, Lisa Schiltz, James Logan, Brad Wendel, David Skeel, Cathy Kaveny, Charlton Copeland, John Inazu, Steve Macedo, and Stephen Carter. The Law & Contemporary Problems volume will also include a transcribed dialogue between Stanley Hauerwas and Jeff Powell (from a recent conference at Duke that brought together the symposium contributors), and Hauerwas's written response to the symposium essays.

Keywords: Hauerwas, law and religion, theology, political theory, liberalism, violence, persuasion

Suggested Citation

Inazu, John D., Stanley Hauerwas and the Law: Is There Anything to Say? (October 6, 2011). Law and Contemporary Problems, Forthcoming; Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-10-01. Available at SSRN:

John D. Inazu (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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