CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Berger on Mercy

Benjamin L. Berger (York University - Osgoode Hall Law School) has posted Poetry, Mercy, and the Phenomenology of Justice (Forthcoming in Ehud Ben Zvi, Claudia V. Camp, David M. Gunn and Aaron W. Hughes, eds., Poets, Prophets, and Texts in Play: Studies in Biblical Poetry and Prophecy in Honour of Francis Landy (London: T & T Clark, 2014)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

What would a phenomenology of justice look like and what role would mercy play in that account? The unruly experiences and lives of the individuals and communities wrapped up in the dramas of justice are paradoxically distant from legal and philosophical reasoning, laundered by rules of evidence for the instrumental exigencies of the former, and frequently effaced by the disciplinary conventions of the latter. One casualty of these habits of reflection is our understanding of the role of mercy in the experience of justice. Wanting to recapture space to imagine the role of mercy in justice, this paper makes an exploratory turn to a world consumed with representing the messy experience of justice and still thick with the language of mercy – to the poetic and narrative world created in the Book of Jonah. Drawing inspiration from a close reading of this mythic tale, I argue that mercy is an essential feature of the phenomenological architecture of justice, requiring us, as it does, to connect abstract judgment with the complexities and exigencies of our concrete conditions. Though distant from contemporary legal and political theory, I argue that mercy in fact remains an uncanny aspect of our experience of justice and so demands a political and legal scholarship that spends as much time reflecting on the sources and nature of mercy as a political virtue, as it does on the demands of reason and the dictates of law alone.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2014/07/berger-on-mercy.html

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