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One of the challenge points on the Better World Books 2017 Reading […]
Anthony G. Amsterdam
Jerome S. Bruner
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Minding the Law explores crucial psychological processes involved in the work of lawyers and judges: deciding whether or not particular cases fit within a legal rule ("categorizing"), telling stories to justify one's claims or undercut an adversary's ("narrative"), and tailoring one's language to be persuasive without appearing partisan ("rhetorics"). Because these processes are not unique to the law, courts' decisions cannot rest solely upon legal logic but must also depend vitally upon the underlying culture's storehouse of familiar tales of heroes and villains.
But a culture's stock of stories is not changeless. Amsterdam and Bruner argue that culture itself is a dialectic constantly in progress, a conflict between the established canon and newly imagined "possible worlds". They illustrate the swings of this dialectic by a masterful analysis of the Supreme Court's race-discrimination decisions during the past century.
A passionate plea for heightened consciousness about the way law is practiced and made, Minding the Law will be welcomed by a new generation concerned with renewing law's commitment to a humane justice.
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