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Vol 23 No 5 May/June 2018

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Drafting Commercial Agreements

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Eye for an Eye

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ISBN13: 9780521856805
ISBN: 0521856809
Published: February 2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £30.99

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Analysing the law of the talion - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth - William Ian Miller presents an original meditation on the concept of 'pay back'. Miller's unique theory of justice offers redemption through retaliation, espousing the view that revenge requires a deep commitment to balance in order to get even in a strict but fair manner. As a result we find that much of what is assumed to be justice, honour or respect is a way of providing this balance.

Moreover, according to its biblical roots, the laws of the talion imply that the value of an eye can only be matched with another eye, suggesting that body parts are currency. Applying this concept to the real world, Miller looks at Shylock's pound of flesh bargain, at blood oaths, and at other societies and cultures, comparing the ancient, and supposedly more primitive, with their modern counterparts.

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Preface: a theory of justice?
1. Introductory themes: images of evenness
2. The Talion
3. The Talionic mint: funny money
4. The proper price of property in an eye
5. Teaching a lesson: pain and poetic justice
6. A pound of flesh
7. Remember me: mnemonics, debts (of blood), and the making of a person
8. Dismemberment and price lists
9. Of hands, hospitality, personal space and holiness
10. Satisfaction not guaranteed
11. Comparing values and the ranking game
12. Filthy lucre and holy dollars