829 Jurisprudence - §001, Fall 2008

Categories: Legal Theory and Jurisprudence

Instructor(s) Kaplan, Leonard

Selected Problems in Jurisprudence: The Problem of Evil

Contemporary political and cultural thought points to and employs a concept of
evil. So we have a 


president talking about the "axis of evil." Legal thought though has
not worked "evil" into its discourse. In fact modern legal thought
has excised much of the discourse that had been the western inheritance from



. Yet both within the
liberal state and in the globalized world the question of what it means to
attribute the notion of "evil" to, remains a real problem.

This seminar will explore what evil has meant and the
changing nature of the concept from the ancients to modernity. We will do so by
critically considering a canonical text on this problem: The Book of Job. We
will read Job and consider the different interpretive understanding of Job from
the viewpoint of Judaism, Catholicism,

Protestant variations and the continued use of the book in to secular and post
modern thinking.

We will augment Job by considering the historical change in the notion of evil
in philosophic discourse. We will use Susan Neiman's text, Evil in Modern
Thought to engage the change in attitude concerning evil. Even with the
secularization of modern legal thought and the Enlightenment project, at least according
to some scholars,  natural law traditions remain alive and even if
marginalized relevant. We will look at the state of natural law discourse to
see how and if such discourse augments our understanding of or transforms the
nature of how we define and employ evil as a concept. We will ask how evil then
remains marginal in legal language and yet necessarily informs it locally and
in globalized politics. Eberhard Schockenhoff's book, Natural Law and Human
will provide the text for centering discussion


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