Modern philosophers and legal historians have tended to overlook the fact that Plato was the most prolific legislator in ancient Greece. In the pages of his Republic and Laws, he drafted more than 700 statutes. This is more legal material than can be credited to the archetypal Greek legislators—Lycurgus, Draco, and Solon.
The status of Plato’s laws is unique, since he composed them for purely hypothetical cities. And remarkably, he introduced this new genre by writing hard-hitting critiques of the Greek ideal of the sovereignty of law.
Writing in the milieu in which immutable divine law vied for the first time with volatile democratic law, Plato rejected both sources of law, and sought to derive his laws from what he called ‘political technique’ (politikê technê). At the core of this technique is the question of how the idea of justice relates to legal and institutional change.
Filled with sharp observations and bold claims, Platonic Legislations shows that it is possible to see Plato—and our own legal culture—in a new light
“In this provocative, intelligent, and elegant work D. L. Dusenbury has posed crucial questions not only as regards Plato’s thought in the making, but also as regards our contemporaneity.”—Giorgio Camassa, University of Udine
“There is a tension in Greek law, and in Greek legal thinking, between an understanding of law as unchangeable and authoritative, and a recognition that formal rules are often insufficient for the interpretation of reality, and need to be constantly revised to match it. Dusenbury’s book illuminates the sophistication of Plato’s legal thought in its engagement with this tension, and explores the potential of Plato’s reflection for modern legal theory.”—Mirko Canevaro, The University of Edinburgh
David Lloyd Dusenbury is a research fellow of the De Wulf-Mansion Centre at the University of Leuven. He is the author of a book on Augustine of Hippo, The Space of Time (2014), and has written scholarly articles on the legal thought of Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben.
Michael Allen breaks new ground in our understanding of global justice. Traditional views, such as those of Rawls, see justice as a matter of recognizing the moral status of all free and equal person as citizens in a state. Allen argues that this fails to see things from the global perspective. From this perspective disobedience is not merely a matter of social cooperation. Rather, it is a matter of self determination that guarantees the invulnerability of different types of persons and peoples to domination. This makes the disobedience by the undocumented justified, based on the idea that all persons are moral equals, so that all sovereign peoples need to reject dominating forms of social organization for all persons, and not just their own citizens. In an age of mass movements of people, Allen gives us a strong reason to change our practices in treating the undocumented.
James Bohman, St Louis University, Danforth Chair in the Humanities
This monograph is an important contribution to our thinking on civil disobedience and practices of dissent in a globalized world. This is an era where non-violent social movements have had a significant role in challenging the abuse of power in contexts as diverse, yet interrelated as the Arab Spring protests and the Occupy protests. Moreover, while protests such as these speak to a local political horizon, they also have a global footprint, catalyzing a transnational dialogue about global justice, political strategy and cosmopolitan solidarity. Speaking directly to such complexities, Allen makes a compelling case for a global perspective regarding civil disobedience. Anyone interested in how the dynamics of non-violent protest have shaped and reshaped the landscape for democratic engagement in a globalized world will find this book rewarding and insightful.
Vasuki Nesiah, New York University