jurisprudence, coercive power, state, violence, community, nomos, death, thanatos, discourse
Law, is so far as it sanctions the coercive power of the state, enables people to do frightening - even deadly - things to each other. Contemporary jurisprudence, the explanatory and justificatory voice of legal practice, fails to interrogate law's interconnection with violence and death and therefore, by a sin of omission, legitimizes humankind's mutual inhumanity. The end result is jurisprudential tolerance of, and acquiescence in, societies underpinned by violence. By identifying the nexus between community (nomos) and death (thanatos), this, admittedly speculative, essay attempts to raise the possibility of a discourse, practice and society that can encourage, reflect and concretize opportunities for human interaction that go beyond violence. What follows, I hope, is an exercise in consciousness-raising.
Richard F. Devlin, "Nomos and Thanatos (Part A). The Killing Fields: Modern Law and Legal Theory" (1989) 12:2 Dal LJ 298.