Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization | ABOUT

Raz, “Is There a Reason to Keep Promises?”

October 18th, 2012

Joseph Raz (University of Oxford - Faculty of Law) has posted Is There a Reason to Keep Promises?on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
If promises are binding there must be a reason to do as one promised. The paper is motivated by belief that there is a difficulty in explaining what that reason is. It arises because the reasons that promising creates are content-independent. Similar difficulties arise regarding other content-independent reasons, though their solution need not be the same. Section One introduces an approach to promises, and outlines an account of them that I have presented before. It forms the backdrop for the ensuing discussion. The problems discussed in the paper arise, albeit in slightly modified ways, for various other accounts as well. It is, however, helpful to use a specific account as a springboard leading to one explanation of promissory reasons, namely of the reasons that valid promises constitute for performing the promised act (Section Two). We can call it the bare reasons account. Sections Three and Four will raise difficulties with that account, leading to its abandonment in favour of an alternative in Sections Five and Six.
(HT: Legal Theory Blog)

Szto, “Contract in My Soup: Chinese Contract Formation and Ritual Eating and Drunkenness

October 18th, 2012

Mary Szto, Hamline University School of Law, has published Contract in My Soup: Chinese Contract Formation and Ritual Eating and Drunkenness. Here is the abstract:
Scholars and practitioners alike recognize that contract formation in today’s China requires more than an understanding of black letter law, but knowledge of cultural practices. There is much literature about the legal non-enforceability of contracts, and instead the critical importance of guanxi (relationships), mianzi (face), and interpersonal harmony. However, there is little mention about eating and drinking rituals. These rituals often are the heart of building trust and negotiating terms in China. They may not only be the formation of the contract but the foundation for performance and enforcement as well. However, often these rituals involve drunkenness, which sometimes has turned fatal for contracting parties. Binge drinking is reaching epidemic proportions in China and employers, including law firms, openly recruit persons who can drink heavily. “Ganbei” is a popular toast which means to empty one’s cup. This article explores what I call ganbei contracts, the phenomenon of eating and drinking rituals in contract formation. I first discuss current Chinese contract black letter law, then contemporary ritual eating and drinking, the ancient roots of ritual practice, and then guidelines for proper contemporary practice consonant with a rule of virtue and law. Since time immemorial, ritual eating and drinking have legal meaning in China.
(HT: Law & Humanities Blog)

The Rabbis’ Mental World in the Closing Chapter of Bavli Berakhot

October 16th, 2012

Literary critic Adam Kirsch continues his ruminations in Tablet on the "Daf Yomi" study of the Bavli by reflecting on the final chapter of Bavli Berakhot, which, in his words, "does more than any other to bring the modern reader into the rabbis' mental and social world."

Kaplan, “Unfaithful to Textualism”

October 16th, 2012

Jeffrey P. Kaplan (San Diego State University) has posted Unfaithful to Textualism on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Complementing textualism is (“new”) originalism, the view that “the original public meaning of the Constitution’s text should control its interpretation.” Scalia was an early proponent of new originalism, arguing in 1986 against original intent (“old originalism”) and for original meaning, thereby tightly linking originalism with textualism. Much comment on Heller has focused on Scalia’s originalism. The focus here will be on his textualism, but new originalism’s focus on the meaning of words almost merges the two.
(HT: Legal Theory Blog)

Discussion of “Vagueness” and “Ambiguity”

October 15th, 2012

The Legal Theory Blog has a helpful discussion of the interpretive concepts of "vagueness" and "ambiguity."

Conference on “The Idea of Evil: Secular Approaches”

October 15th, 2012

The Idea of Evil: Secular Approaches

November 22-23, 2012 MANCEPT/MANCEV CONFERENCE Arthur Lewis Building, University of Manchester

Thursday, November 22

Registration 9:30 – 10:00 10:00 – 11:30 Luke Russell (The University of Sydney) Evil and the Qualitative Difference Revisited Commentator: Richard Child (University of Manchester) 11:30 – 11.45 Break – tea/coffee 11.45 – 13.15 Eve Garrard (University of Manchester) Speak No Evil? Commentator: Philip Cole (University of Wales, Newport) 13.15 – 14:00 Lunch 14:00 – 15:30 Matthew Kramer (University of Cambridge) A Theory of Evil Commentator: Hillel Steiner (University of Manchester) 15:30 – 15:45 Break – tea/coffee 15:45 – 17:15 Gideon Calder (University of Wales, Newport) Agency, social structures and secular evil Commentator: Steve Cooke (University of Manchester) Drinks 17:15- 18:30 19:00 Dinner

Friday, November 23

10:00 – 11.30 Paul Formosa (Macquarie University) Evils, Wrongs, and Dignity Commentator: Garvan Walshe (University of Manchester) 11.30 – 11.45 Break – tea/coffee 11.45 – 13.15 Shlomit Harrosh (Shalom Hartman Institute) South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: A Moral Victory over Evil? Commentator: Harry Lesser (University of Manchester) 13:15 – 14:00 Lunch 14:00 – 15:30 Stephen de Wijze (University of Manchester) Political Evil – Warping the Moral Landscape Commentator: Tom Porter (University of Manchester) 15:30- 15:45 Tea 15:45- 17:15 Adam Morton (University of British Columbia) Small-Scale Evil Commentator: Chris Daly (University of Manchester) Conference ends Places limited to 40 so book your place early. Book here. (HT: Public Reason)

Lecture on Henry Ford and the Jews

October 13th, 2012

At 3pm on Monday, October 15, Victoria Saker Woeste (American Bar Foundation) will speak on her book Henry Ford's War on Jews and the Legal Battle against Hate Speech as part of the Max Weinreich Center Academic Lecture Series at the YIVO Institute at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street in New York City. Admission is free, but reserve a space here. (HT: Legal History Blog)

Dissertation Prize in Law, Culture, and the Humanities

October 13th, 2012

The Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities invites submissions for its 2013 Julien Mezey Dissertation Award. This annual prize is awarded to the dissertation that most promises to enrich and advance interdisciplinary scholarship at the intersection of law, culture and the humanities. The award will be presented at the Association's 2013 annual meeting, which will be hosted by Birkbeck, University of London, March 22-23, 2013. The Association seeks the submission of outstanding work from a wide variety of perspectives, including but not limited to law and cultural studies, legal hermeneutics and rhetoric, law and literature, law and psychoanalysis, law and visual studies, legal history, legal theory and jurisprudence. Scholars completing humanities-oriented dissertations in SJD and related programs, as well as those earning PhDs, are encouraged to submit their work. Applicants eligible for the 2013 award must have defended their dissertations successfully between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012. The deadline for nominations for the 2013 award is November 1, 2012. On or before that date, each nominee must submit the following: 1) a letter by the nominee detailing the genesis, goal, and contribution of the dissertation; 2) a letter of support from a faculty member familiar with the work; 3) an abstract, outline, and selected chapter of the dissertation; 4) contact information for the nominee. All materials should be sent to: Cheryl Suzack, Award finalists will be notified by December 1, 2012. Finalists must then submit an electronic version of the entire dissertation. The winner will be determined by early February and invited to the 2013 ASLCH annual meeting in London. ASLCH will pay travel and lodging costs. Questions should be addressed to Cheryl Suzack, (HT: Legal History Blog)

E-Review of _Law and Religion in the Roman Republic_

October 12th, 2012

Roberta Stewart has just published a review of Law and Religion in the Roman Republic (ed. Olga Tellegen-Couperus; Leiden: Brill, 2011). From the review:
Law and Religion in the Roman Republic confronts the theme of the intersection of religious and legal institutions. The editor promises a rich perspective on the problem of law and religion in Rome, on the thinking of the law, on ritual institutions that regulated the activities of the Roman State, on ritual categories within the developed civil law (e.g. the regulation of tombs). The book displays the problem of coherence inherent in a multi- authored, purposefully fragmented approach to a problem, and individual papers raise interesting, at times provocative, issues that deserve a more systematic treatment and argumentation. Nevertheless the book delivers in illustrating the complexity of the problem.
To read the full review, click here. (HT: Agade)

Batlan Addresses Eight Questions about Legal History

October 12th, 2012

Felice Batlan, a legal history at Chicago-Kent College of Law, answered eight questions about legal history in a wide-ranging interview at In the Service of Clio. Read the full interview here. (HT: Legal History Blog)