The Challenge of Building an Inter-Communal Rule of Law in Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona

Law & Literature, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 53, 2003

35 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2006 Last revised: 13 Nov 2012

Chimène I. Keitner

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Date Written: March 27, 2010

Abstract

This article uses Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel Ramona to ground an exploration of the problems associated with building what I call an "inter-communal" rule of law. A close reading of Jackson's text reveals a rudimentary philosophy of law comprising three central tenets: (1) a strong element of natural law thinking, which enables Jackson to construct an ideal of justice based on her conception of all individuals as members of a common humanity; (2) a critique of misunderstanding, most often rooted in ignorance, as a central stumbling-block to establishing a common legal system that unites different communities within a single territory; and (3) a deeper critique of incommensurability the fundamental incompatibility of perspectives and values as the greatest threat to the long-term possibility of an inter-communal rule of law, and consequently to the harmonious coexistence of different communities within a single territory.

Keywords: rule of law, philosophy of law, law and literature

Suggested Citation

Keitner, Chimène I., The Challenge of Building an Inter-Communal Rule of Law in Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona (March 27, 2010). Law & Literature, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 53, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=933736

Chimène I. Keitner (Contact Author)

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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