Law in Contemporary Society

Class Takeaways

Since we're trying to learn how to write with brevity, how to edit, and how to actively listen, I thought it might be helpful to collaboratively come up with a summary of the key lessons from each day in class.

I guess I'd prefer to come up with one or two group paragraphs for each class, and not have the really long forum-type discussions we have on other pages, but obviously do whatever you want.

I started today's class below, but feel free to completely gut it, add what is important, and delete what is completely wrong. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 31st

To Felix Cohen, legal concepts ("corporations", "property rights") are not based in factual experience or moral ideals, and can only be defined in terms of themselves. Judicial decisions that purport to "do law" by relating legal concepts, then, are fundamentally flawed because they have no meaning. A better approach to interpreting a legal decision is to treat it as a function of the social forces going in and the consequences resulting from it. Understanding a decision, then, is not about the text of the opinion, but the forces that motivated the choice (economics, judge's ideals, bribery) and the resulting human effects (life or death, changes in perception of death penalty).

-- SanjayMurti - 01 Feb 2012

A question also arises from how we can learn about the law when there is great distance between the language of law on one hand and the meaning of the social forces on the other. This is perhaps why law can be considered a weak form of social control.

-- LizzieGomez - 02 Feb 2012

Thursday, February 2nd

Not sure this can be classified as an all-encompassing "take-away" from last class, but a parallel I noticed between Transcendental Nonsense and Lawyerland. Robinson's statement that every criminal is "insane" but also "has a reason" shows that society labels criminals as "insane" to avoid confronting issues that it doesn't want to deal with. This idea reminds me a lot of Felix Cohen's stance on legal fictions. Judges have fashioned doctrines like "corporations," divorced from moral principles or common sense, to cope expeditiously with issues that they don't really want to form better solutions for. Though Cohen criticizes courts for doing this, maybe, as Lawyerland points out, this is a just a common way that society deals with problems. Though it is far from an honorable way to resolve issues, is it maybe that judges are not as "wrong" or "immoral" as Cohen alleges, and that they are just acting in ways similar to the rest of society?

-- AbbyCoster - 07 Feb 2012

Tuesday, February 7th


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r5 - 22 Jan 2013 - 18:06:37 - IanSullivan
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