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Independent Reading Groups

The Experience of Justice

How do we experience justice? In contemporary political theory and jurisprudence, justice typically has been studied as a conceptual system (for example, Rawls’ principle of fairness) or as a system of rules in the service either of legitimating power (for example, Hart’s positivist concept of law) or particular policy preferences (for example, maximizing utility). What these highly abstract, putatively universal, approaches fail to capture, however, is how and why justice inspires. What is an experience of justice, and what does it feel like to have one? In seeking a response to these questions we shall follow a path similar to the one William James laid down in his seminal work, The Varieties of Religious Experience. Participants in this reading group will not only explore a broad range of recorded experiences of justice, but also have an opportunity to share their own – whether from the courtroom, the theater, the cinema, a poem or novel, or anecdotally from real life. Thus, we will hopefully gain deeper insight into what constitutes an experience of justice, and what this kind of experience can tell us about justice itself.

Reading List

Convenor: Richard Sherwin
Meeting times: Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00pm: 22 January, 5, 19, 26 February, 19 March, 2 April
Room 21-6, 3610 McTavish St.