Against the Law
Paul F. Campos, Pierre Schlag, and Steven D. Smith Duke University Press, 1996 Library of Congress KF380.C294 1996 | Dewey Decimal 349.73
A fundamental critique of American law and legal thought, Against the Law consists of a series of essays written from three different perspectives that coalesce into a deep criticism of contemporary legal culture. Paul F. Campos, Pierre Schlag, and Steven D. Smith challenge the conventional representations of the legal system that are articulated and defended by American legal scholars. Unorthodox, irreverent, and provocative, Against the Law demonstrates that for many in the legal community, law has become a kind of substitute religion—an essentially idolatrous practice composed of systematic self-misrepresentation and self-deception. Linked by a persistent inquiry into the nature and identity of “the law,” these essays are informed by the conviction that the conventional representations of law, both in law schools and the courts, cannot be taken at face value—that the law, as commonly conceived, makes no sense. The authors argue that the relentlessly normative prescriptions of American legal thinkers are frequently futile and, indeed, often pernicious. They also argue that the failure to recognize the role that authorship must play in the production of legal thought plagues both the teaching and the practice of American law. Ranging from the institutional to the psychological and metaphysical deficiencies of the American legal system, the depth of criticism offered by Against the Law is unprecedented. In a departure from the nearly universal legitimating and reformist tendencies of American legal thought, this book will be of interest not only to the legal academics under attack in the book, but also to sociologists, historians, and social theorists. More particularly, it will engage all the American lawyers who suspect that there is something very wrong with the nature and direction of their profession, law students who anticipate becoming part of that profession, and those readers concerned with the status of the American legal system.
The Enchantment Of Reason
Pierre Schlag Duke University Press, 1998 Library of Congress KF380.S317 1998 | Dewey Decimal 349.7301
The Enchantment of Reason is a lively critique of American legal thought and the American legal system’s deification of reason. In an attempt to understand the current malaise of American law and the depressed condition of American intellectual life in general, Pierre Schlag diagnoses what he believes is an epidemic of pathological reliance on the principle of reason. Contending that legal thinkers continually fail to recognize the aesthetic and ethical prejudices of rationalism, Schlag creates a genealogy that shows how the call to reason has become a manipulative vehicle of power, faith, and prejudice. In examining the fierce resistance to questioning reason’s primacy, this renowned critic and professor of American law demonstrates how those who use and study the law perpetuate their own methodological blind spots. Claiming that reason has been endowed with a virtually mystical power to organize social life, Schlag unravels the seemingly rational world of judicial opinions, statutes, doctrines, and legal principles. In the process, he paints a shocking—and sure to be controversial—picture of the chaos and, indeed, violence of the American legal tradition. This bold commentary on the irrationality of reason in American law and legal studies will interest not only legal scholars and philosophers but also serious thinkers across a broad disciplinary spectrum.
Legal doctrine—the creation of doctrinal concepts, arguments, and legal regimes built on the foundation of written law—is the currency of contemporary law. Yet law students, lawyers, and judges often take doctrine for granted, without asking even the most basic questions. How to Do Things with Legal Doctrine is a sweeping and original study that focuses on how to understand legal doctrine via a hands-on approach. Taking up the provocative invitations from the “New Doctrinalists,” Pierre Schlag and Amy J. Griffin refine the conceptual and rhetorical operations legal professionals perform with doctrine—focusing especially on those difficult moments where law seems to run out, but legal argument must go on. The authors make the crucial operations of doctrine explicit, revealing how they work, and how they shape the law that emerges. How to Do Things with Legal Doctrine will help all those studying or working with law to gain a more systematic understanding of the doctrinal moves many of our best lawyers make intuitively.
The sudden emergence of the Trump nation surprised nearly everyone, including journalists, pundits, political consultants, and academics. When Trump won in 2016, his ascendancy was widely viewed as a fluke. Yet time showed it was instead the rise of a movement—angry, militant, revanchist, and unabashedly authoritarian.
How did this happen? Twilight of the American State offers a sweeping exploration of how law and legal institutions helped prepare the grounds for this rebellious movement. The controversial argument is that, viewed as a legal matter, the American state is not just a liberal democracy, as most Americans believe. Rather, the American state is composed of an uneasy and unstable combination of different versions of the state—liberal democratic, administered, neoliberal, and dissociative. Each of these versions arose through its own law and legal institutions. Each emerged at different times historically. Each was prompted by deficits in the prior versions. Each has survived displacement by succeeding versions. All remain active in the contemporary moment—creating the political-legal dysfunction America confronts today.
Pierre Schlag maps out a big picture view of the tribulations of the American state. The book abjures conventional academic frameworks, sets aside prescriptions for quick fixes, dispenses with lamentations about polarization, and bypasses historical celebrations of the American Spirit.