Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy of ethics has frequently attracted attention amongst legal scholars, but he remains a divisive and often enigmatic contributor to this field. He has been read within contexts as varied as human rights, private law, refugee law, and on the nature of judicial reasoning. This book explores what unites such apparently diverse applications of his ideas, and in doing so considers the challenge of law’s ethical relationship with the other. In addition to asking how Levinas’s ethics can inform legal problems, the book also examines how the modern legal edifice has a deceptive tendency to close itself off from the ethical experience. In particular, literatures on biopolitics suggest that law is increasingly complicit in reductive determinations of how we understand ourselves and others. Levinas’s most penetrating insight might not, therefore, lie in the law’s instrumentalisation of his ethics, but instead in the way his ethics trace a human encounter that escapes law. ; Matthew Stone asks what unites apparently disparate applications of Levinas’ ideas about law and explores the ethical challenge of law's relationship with 'the Other'. Ultimately, he is sceptical that Levinasian ethics can be invested in legal institutions and instead proposes that it should be embodied in the perpetual critique of law. ; Acknowledgements; Part I: The Importance of Ethics; 1. Introduction: The Law’s Other; 2. The Ethics of Emmanuel Levinas; Part II: Ethics and Law; 3. Can Law Be Ethical?; 4. Adjudication, Obligation, and Human Rights: Applying Levinas’s Ethics; Part III: Ethics Against the Law; 5. The Law of the Same: Levinas and the Biopolitical Limits of Liberalism; 6. Law, Ethics, and Political Subjectivity; Bibliography; Index.
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Matthew Stone is Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex. He is co-editor of New Critical Legal Thinking: Law and the Political (2012) and is author of numerous journal articles on critical legal theory.