Law and Rhetoric: Critical Possibilities

26 Pages Posted: 22 May 2019

See all articles by John Harrington

John Harrington

Cardiff University - School of Law and Politics

Lucy Series

Cardiff University

Alexander Ruck Keene

39 Essex Chambers

Date Written: June 2019

Abstract

What contribution can rhetoric make to socio‐legal studies? Though now a byword for deception and spin, rhetoric was long identified with the very substance of law and politics. Latterly radical scholars have foregrounded an understanding of law as rhetoric in their polemics against legal formalism, but it needs to be complemented by a critical perspective which goes beyond simple revivalism, taking account of rhetoric's own blind spots, inquiring into the means by which some speakers and listeners are privileged and others excluded or silenced. The critical potential of legal rhetoric is tested here through a review of the developing law on mental capacity and the best interests of people with disabilities in England and Wales. Much of what is at stake there is properly grasped in terms of a politics of speech: who is addressed, who can speak, who must speak, and how are they represented in judicial and media discourse.

Suggested Citation

Harrington, John and Series, Lucy and Ruck Keene, Alexander, Law and Rhetoric: Critical Possibilities (June 2019). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 46, Issue 2, pp. 302-327, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3391971 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jols.12156

John Harrington (Contact Author)

Cardiff University - School of Law and Politics ( email )

Law Building, Museum Ave
Cardiff, CF10 3AX
United Kingdom

Lucy Series

Cardiff University

Alexander Ruck Keene

39 Essex Chambers ( email )

81 Chancery Lane
London, WC2A 1DD
United Kingdom

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