Faith in Law: Essays in Legal Theory (Co-Edited Book)
Peter Oliver, Sionaidh Douglas Scott & Victor Tadros, Faith in Law: Essays in Legal Theory (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2000).
Posted: 17 Nov 2020
Date Written: 2000
This collection of essays explore the long-standing,intricate relationship between law and faith. Faith in this context is to be read in the broadest sense, as extending beyond religion to embrace the knowledge, beliefs, understandings and practices which are at work alongside the familiar and seemingly more reliable, trusted and relatively certain content and conventionally accepted methods of law and legal reasoning. The essays deal with three broad themes. The first concerns the extent to which faith should be involved in legal decision making. Ought decisions to aspire simply to right reason or ought faith-based models of decision-making to be incorporated into the legal system? If the latter, how is this best done? Ought faith to operate simply as a reason itself or ought it to help to structure the method by which legal decisions are reached? The second, and perhaps most familiar theme, stemming in part from rights discourse, is the extent to which law does, and ought to, respect the rights of those whose religious beliefs conflict with the dominant social norms and practices. Liberal democratic constitutions typically provide protection for religion and religious beliefs. Are these justified, and if so how? Can such protection as exists suffice from the perspective of the faithful, or does law's otherwise pervasive agnosticism make this impossible or illusory? Thirdly, questions of identity and difference arise. Assuming that most societies remain a mix of many faiths (religious and secular) and no faith, how should law and legal theory understand the varying and, it must be said, conflicting claims for recognition. Should we encourage conformity in the hope of reducing friction, or should we preserve and promote difference, seeking to understand others, whether groups or individuals, without removing that which makes them distinct? More radically and controversially, should we be more sceptical of individual and group claims to authenticity and see them rather as strategies in an ongoing power game? Faith after all, like reason and law, has never been far from politics and intrigue, especially in its institutional representation.
Keywords: legal theory, jurisprudence, religion, law, faith, reason
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