Thucydides and law: A response to Leiter

Legal Theory 19 (3):282-306 (2013)
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Abstract

Thucydides is the author of the most harrowing account of societal breakdown in antiquity. Brian Leiter has recently made the provocative claim that Thucydides’ analysis of such breakdowns indicates that morality is of little import in guiding behavior, including legal behavior. Yet Thucydides also narrates events, particularly in Athens, that indicate that something resembling morality can continue to guide action, including legal action, even at the worst of times. Thucydides provides tantalizing clues as to why he narrates events that only sometimes follow the path predicted by Leiter. In particular, Thucydides (accurately) portrays the law that suffuses Athenian life and saves Athens itself as, for the most part, informal and infused with moral concerns. Leiter's reading of Thucydides therefore not only is limited but misses implicit arguments that challenge Leiter's broader argument for a particular form of legal realism

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References found in this work

The case for Nietzschean moral psychology.Joshua Knobe & Brian Leiter - 2007 - In Brian Leiter & Neil Sinhababu (eds.), Nietzsche and morality. New York: Oxford University Press.
On Hart's ways : law as reason and as fact.John Finnis - 2007 - American Journal of Jurisprudence 52 (1):25-53.

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