The Role of Agency in Arendt's Theory of Judgment: A Principled Approach to Diversity on the Bench
(2004) 3:2 Journal of Law & Equality 165
20 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2013
Date Written: 2004
This article reflects on Hannah Arendt's work on political judgment in the context of considering judicial diversity. In particular, the author builds off Jennifer Nedelsky's work that, draws from Arendt's work on judgment to argue that a diverse judiciary is necessary for both truly autonomous and optimal judgment. Using Nedelsky's work as a foundation, the article considers one major outstanding question: if diversity is indeed justifiable and essential, is there any principled ground to assist us making choices over which standpoints to include?
In answering this question, the author begins from the supposition that claims for increased judicial diversity contain background assumptions that particular kinds of difference have a special claim to inclusion. She argues that this supposition can be grounded within Arendt's theory of judgment through attention to her understanding of politics. In looking at her theory through such a lens, the author claims that the processes Arendt advocates are motivated by a desire to provide the conditions for the creation of shared narratives. Once examined further, however, it also appears that there is a necessary ethical premise underlying her vision - an equality of agency among community members. The author suggests that a focus on this premise can allow us to accord special status to the claims for inclusion of particular groups who experience a systemic denial of agency.
Keywords: judicial diversity
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