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The founding premise of this book is that the ethical trauma of a compassion attempting to do justice without the illusion of being grounded in something beyond the sheer facticity of its own performance is a theme which cries out to be investigated in its own right. If Nietzsche is right that living without illusions is impossible for human beings, then the most important ethical implication of this essentially anthropological fact goes far beyond the question of what illusions we ought to choose. It must also include the question whether we should succumb to that most seductive and pernicious of all illusions: namely, the belief that exercising great care and responsibility in choosing our illusions – which we might then call our ‘principles of justice’ – excuses us ethically for what we do to others in their name.
This question of personal responsibility is examined here in a range of legal contexts: the enforcement of human rights; the management of cultural diversity; the so-called corporate social responsibility movement, ‘cost-benefit analysis’, and in the widespread tendency to ignore the tragic phenomenon of speechlessness. And, consistently, the point here is not to offer therapeutic comfort or a path towards healing to those beset by ethical trauma in the context of law and justice. Quite the contrary. It aspires to accentuate and increase the ethical crisis which it identifies.
The culmination of a 10 year legal-philosophical project, this book will appeal to graduate students, scholars and curious non-academic intellectuals interested in continental philosophy, critical legal theory, postmodern theology, the philosophy of human rights, and the study of individual ethics in the context of law.