Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Emotions: A Transdisciplinary Bibliography

Although I'm posting all of my bibliographies here as part of the Directed Reading series (Thus far: Bioethics; Ecological and Environmental Worldviews; International Law; Human Rights; Comparative Law; American Indian Law; and Criminal Law, Punishment & Prisons), some time ago Daniel Goldberg of the Medical Humanities Blog offered to post the list for "the emotions" at his blog and has now done so: The Emotions: A Transdisciplinary Bibliography. As Susan Bandes wrote in the introduction to the groundbreaking anthology she edited, The Passions of the Law (1999),

"Emotion pervades the law. [....] In the conventional story, emotion has a certain, narrowly defined place in law. It is assigned to the criminal courts. It is confined to those--like witnesses, the accused, the public--without legal training. In this story, there is a finite list of law-related emotions--anger, compassion, mercy, vengeance, hatred--and each emotion has a proper role and a fixed definition. And it is crucially important to narrowly delineate that finite list and those proper roles, so that emotion doesn't encroach on the true preserve of law: which is reason. [But] the law [in general] is imbued with emotion. Not just the obvious emotions like mercy and the desire for vengeance but disgust, romantic love, bitterness, uneasiness, fear, resentment, cowardice, vindictiveness, forgiveness, contempt, remorse, sympathy, hatred, spite, malice, shame, respect, moral fervor, and the passion for justice. Emotion pervades not just the criminal courts, with their heat-of-passion and insanity defenses and their angry or compassionate jurors but the civil courtrooms, the appellate courtrooms, the legislatures. It propels judges and lawyers, as well as jurors, litigants, and the lay public. Indeed, the emotions that pervade law are often so ancient and deeply ingrained that they are largely invisible."

Perhaps needless to say, the study of emotions, like the study of social norms to which it is intimately related, has become an important area of research in the legal academy. And that is as it should be.

[Forthcoming anon here at Ratio Juris, the compilation for Animal Ethics, Rights & Law.]


Blogger Robert Justin Lipkin said...

There were an enormous number of titles on the emotions generated by analytic (linguistic/ordinary language) philosophers from the 1940s through the 1970s. Such writers as Wittgenstein, Anscombe, Geach, Melden and a host of others championed a non-Cartesian conception of emotions rejecting the notion that emotions were somehow "inside one's head (or heart);" that is, they were private episodes to which the language of emotions referred. This set up a contrast between emotions as internal processes or as dispositions to external behavior. One problem with this view is that it doesn't seem able to account for the rich subjectivity, for want of a better term, and for the self-consciousness of which humans are capable. In any event, Patrick is right that understanding emotions is essential to understanding law and legal theory.

5/22/2008 12:28 PM  

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