Corporate executives hire high-priced lawyers to flout the law with impunity. Indigent defendants are falsely convicted, and even executed for crimes they did not commit. We say that law is the institutional embodiment of justice. And yet, it is equally true that law, as it is practiced, seems to have little connection to justice. As the novelist William Gaddis writes: "Justice? You get justice in the next world. In this world, you have the law." This course explores the apparent disconnect between law and justice. Can contemporary legal systems offer justice? Can we, today, still speak of a duty to obey the law? Is it possible for law to do justice?
Through readings of legal cases as well as political, literary, and philosophical texts, we seek to understand the problem of administering justice as it emerges in the context of contemporary legal institutions. Texts will include selections from Dostoevsky, Twain, Melville, Plato, Blackstone, Holmes, Milton, Kant, and others.
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