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
Date Written: March 27, 2010
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
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