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Title: Just-is : contingency, desire and temporality : an inquiry on the relation between law and justice
Author: Taillefer, Javier
ISNI:       0000 0004 6352 9868
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates the formation of subjective understandings of justice in relation to law. Liberal theories of justice and legal theory have frequently addressed this question on a macro scale, respectively approaching justice as a given balance between freedom and equality or focusing their attention on the kind of political and legal reforms that would be necessary in order to provide citizens with higher levels of justice. However, the role of the particular subject who demands justice has not received as much attention as the law-maker or the judge in these studies. Using a psychosocial approach that puts emphasis on the relation between the political and psychic life of the subject, this research aims to fill such lacuna by looking at the way in which particular subjects come to develop diverging understandings of justice as a result of their interactions with the law. This dissertation is organised in five chapters. The first chapter reviews the work done by four different schools of legal thought, locating the particular subject who seeks justice as a common blind-spot to all of them and also as the departing point for this research. Building on this, the second chapter considers normativity and generality as the two basic features that define the relation between law and the subject; pointing to subjectivity, contingency, and justice as the three constituent limits of the law that become visible in the light of the abovementioned features; and positing contingency, desire, and temporality as the three basic dimensions in the study of the emergence of subjective understandings of justice. Focusing on the first of these dimensions, the third chapter focuses the role played by contingency in the law and in the subject’s own narrative of justice, considering Walter Benjamin’s notions of “fate” and “character” as opposite ways of articulating it. The fourth chapter investigates the role of “desire” and “jouissance” in the production of such narratives and how, in turn, they appear as two possible and diverging ways of understanding justice in view of the shortcomings of the law. Finally, the fifth chapter centres its attention on the temporality of law and justice, considering Heidegger’s notions of “expectation” and “anticipation” as opposite ways of conceiving the temporality of the latter. In summary, this research offers a new approach to the study of justice by focusing on the way in which this term comes to be used and understood by particular subjects in their interactions with the law. It addresses the relation between three dimensions in the process of formation of subjective understandings of justice, also suggesting that these processes appear as a response to a structural failure of the law to provide justice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available