Harmful Thoughts: Essays on Law, Self, and Morality

Princeton University Press
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In these writings by one of our most creative legal philosophers, Meir Dan-Cohen explores the nature of the self and its response to legal commands and mounts a challenge to some prevailing tenets of legal theory and the neighboring moral, political, and economic thought. The result is an insider's critique of liberalism that extends contemporary liberalism's Kantian strand, combining it with postmodernist ideas about the contingent and socially constructed self to build a thoroughly original perspective on some of the most vital concerns of legal and moral theory.

Dan-Cohen looks first at the ubiquity of legal coercion and considers its decisive impact on the nature of legal discourse and communication, on law's normative aspirations and claim to obedience, and on the ideal of the rule of law. He moves on to discuss basic values, stressing the preeminence of individual identity and human dignity over the more traditional liberal preoccupations with preference-based choice and experiential harm. Dan-Cohen then focuses more directly on the normative ramifications of the socially constructed self. Fundamental concepts such as responsibility and ownership are reinterpreted to take account of the constitutive role that social practices--particularly law and morality--play in the formation of the self.

Throughout, Dan-Cohen draws on a uniquely productive mix of philosophical traditions and subjects, blending the methods of analytic philosophy with the concerns of Continental philosophers to reconceive the self and its relation to ethics and the law.

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About the author

Meir Dan-Cohen is Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds the Milo Reese Robbins Chair in Legal Ethics. He is the author of Rights, Persons, and Organizations: A Legal Theory for Bureaucratic Society.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jan 10, 2009
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781400825059
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Meir Dan-Cohen
Corporations have legal rights, and so do many other large-scale organizations. But what does it mean to ascribe rights and “personhood” to such entities, and what is the rationale for doing so? These are central questions for an organizational society such as ours, and yet they have received consistently little attention in modern political and legal thought. The surface metaphor of treating corporations as persons with “rights” carries profound consequences — sometimes even reducing individual freedoms in light of the organization’s status. Especially after such recent Supreme Court decisions as Citizens United, this effect is as acute today as when this book was first written. Now in its Second Edition, Rights, Persons, and Organizations remains an essential part of any analysis of organizations and their place in the state, fair dispute processing,  and real people’s rights. The study is penetrating and provocative, and is offered to a new generation reconsidering the place of organizations in complex societies. 

From the First Edition:

“Dan-Cohen addresses an urgent issue — the competence of our legal ideas to handle the social reality of large-scale organizations.... The result is a closely reasoned argument for treating organizations as instruments rather than as persons.... Everyone interested in the modern ‘organizational society’ should be familiar with this lucid and sophisticated work.” 
— Philip Selznick, Professor of Law and Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

“The growing power of organizations is one of the most striking features of our lives. Meir Dan-Cohen, indicting both law and moral philosophy for failing to give bureaucracies their due, has analyzed the gaps this oversight has left in societal arrangements and philosophic orientation. It is an impressive and comprehensive job.”
— Christopher Stone, Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law, University of Southern California

“Dan-Cohen employs the tools of economics, sociology, law, and philosophy to formulate a useful and insightful account of the moral and legal status of organizations. This is a book lawyers, economists, sociologists, and philosophers will certainly learn from, and one they should be anxious to read.” 
— Jules L. Coleman, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Yale University 

Quality digital formatting includes linked footnotes and endnotes, active Contents, figures from original print edition, proper eBook design, and fully-linked and detailed subject-matter Index. Also available in new paperback and hardcover formats from Quid Pro Books. Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series. 

Marcus Aurelius
Meir Dan-Cohen
Corporations have legal rights, and so do many other large-scale organizations. But what does it mean to ascribe rights and “personhood” to such entities, and what is the rationale for doing so? These are central questions for an organizational society such as ours, and yet they have received consistently little attention in modern political and legal thought. The surface metaphor of treating corporations as persons with “rights” carries profound consequences — sometimes even reducing individual freedoms in light of the organization’s status. Especially after such recent Supreme Court decisions as Citizens United, this effect is as acute today as when this book was first written. Now in its Second Edition, Rights, Persons, and Organizations remains an essential part of any analysis of organizations and their place in the state, fair dispute processing,  and real people’s rights. The study is penetrating and provocative, and is offered to a new generation reconsidering the place of organizations in complex societies. 

From the First Edition:

“Dan-Cohen addresses an urgent issue — the competence of our legal ideas to handle the social reality of large-scale organizations.... The result is a closely reasoned argument for treating organizations as instruments rather than as persons.... Everyone interested in the modern ‘organizational society’ should be familiar with this lucid and sophisticated work.” 
— Philip Selznick, Professor of Law and Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

“The growing power of organizations is one of the most striking features of our lives. Meir Dan-Cohen, indicting both law and moral philosophy for failing to give bureaucracies their due, has analyzed the gaps this oversight has left in societal arrangements and philosophic orientation. It is an impressive and comprehensive job.”
— Christopher Stone, Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law, University of Southern California

“Dan-Cohen employs the tools of economics, sociology, law, and philosophy to formulate a useful and insightful account of the moral and legal status of organizations. This is a book lawyers, economists, sociologists, and philosophers will certainly learn from, and one they should be anxious to read.” 
— Jules L. Coleman, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Yale University 

Quality digital formatting includes linked footnotes and endnotes, active Contents, figures from original print edition, proper eBook design, and fully-linked and detailed subject-matter Index. Also available in new paperback and hardcover formats from Quid Pro Books. Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series. 

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