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Every discipline has its canon: the set of standard texts, approaches, examples, and stories by which it is recognized and which its members repeatedly invoke and employ. Although the last twenty-five years have seen the influence of interdisciplinary approaches to legal studies expand, there has been little recent consideration of what is and what ought to be canonical in the study of law today.
Legal Canons brings together fifteen essays which seek to map out the legal canon and the way in which law is taught today. In order to understand how the twin ideas of canons and canonicity operate in law, each essay focuses on a particular aspect, from contracts and constitutional law to questions of race and gender. The ascendance of law and economics, feminism, critical race theory, and gay legal studies, as well as the increasing influence of both rational-actor methodology and postmodernism, are all scrutinized by the leading scholars in the field.
A timely and comprehensive volume, Legal Canons articulates the need for, and means to, opening the debate on canonicity in legal studies.
Table of Contents
extent that lawmakers and other well-educated generalists want to engage in ought talk, it would be useful to have default sensitivity become part of the cultural literacy canon. The current discussions of libertarianism are often only about whether there should be contractual freedom and not about how the law can shape the ways that contractual freedom is exercised. However, this cultural literacy claim is my weakest. There would be some value in including all kinds of information in the canon
I mean that despite some ebbs and flows, each of these strategies has enjoyed a certain constancy over time. They are canonical too in the sense that the adherents to each seem confident of the foundations of their own respective perspectives, regarding them as the more or less unproblematically proper stance for discussing property. But whereas modern scholars take sides in choosing one or another strat egy, the capacious Blackstone managed to give each its due. Hence this essay begins with
division and separate analysis; a trope to suggest the unique motivating power of self-interest (and corre spondingly, as the critics have acerbically insisted, a trope to insinuate the pretended pitfalls of sharing or redistribution); and finally, as the cri- Canons of Property Talk, or, Blackstone’s Anxiety 91 tiques of the critics have suggested, a trope that can extend personal dig nity and efficacy even to the powerless. But as a practical matter, property rights have always overlapped
the case, concealing the interactive character of property and giving an inappropriately individualistic patina to this most profoundly sociable of human institutions. That is one reason why, when scholars read Blackstone’s ringing words about property as exclu sion, they should read the rest of the paragraph too—to appreciate Blackstone’s anxiety and to consider how much of that anxiety redounds back to the seemingly mighty axiom of exclusive dominion. notes This chapter originally appeared as
well want to nip in the bud any po tential mechanisms of national aggrandizement. In like fashion, a stock story about Protestant dissenters fleeing reli gious persecution in Great Britain seems to undergird much of the law of religious freedom in this country. This stock story portrays religion as a dangerous and potentially oppressive element in civil society that fosters intolerance and social strife and therefore must be kept strictly separated from the organs of state power. According to