Seana ShiffrinSpeech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law

Princeton University Press, 2014

by Robert Talisse on March 2, 2015

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Philosophy] It is generally accepted that lying is morally prohibited. But theorists divide over the nature of lying’s wrongness, and thus there is disagreement over when the prohibition might be outweighed by competing moral norms.  There is also widespread agreement over the idea that promises made under conditions of coercion or duress lack the moral force to create obligations.  Finally, although free speech is widely seen as a primary value and right, there is an ongoing debate over the kind of good that free speech is.

In Speech Matters: On Lying, Morality, and the Law (Princeton University Press, 2014), Seana Shiffrin ties these issues together, advancing a powerful argument regarding the central role that sincerity and truthfulness play in our individual and collective moral lives.

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J. Douglas SmithOn Democracy’s Doorstep: The Inside Story of How the Supreme Court Brought

February 20, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] This year we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a legal revolution with far-reaching cultural, political, and economic import. But as J. Douglas Smith argues in On Democracy’s Doorstep: The Inside Story of How the Supreme Court Brought “One Person, One Vote” to the United States (Hill and Wang, 2014), the early […]

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Joseph M. GabrielMedical Monopoly: Intellectual Property Rights and the Origin of the Modern Pharmaceutical Industry

February 19, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Medicine] Commercial interests are often understood as impinging upon the ethical norms of medicine. In his new book, Medical Monopoly: Intellectual Property Rights and the Origins of the Modern Pharmaceutical Industry (University of  Chicago Press, 2013), Joe Gabriel shows how the modernization of American medicine was bound up in the ownership, manufacture, and marketing of […]

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Emilie CloatrePills for the Poorest: An Exploration of TRIPS and Access to Medication in Sub-Saharan Africa

February 9, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Medicine] Emilie Cloatre’s award-winning book, Pills for the Poorest: An Exploration of TRIPS and Access to Medication in Sub-Saharan Africa (Palgrave, 2013), locates the effects—and ineffectualness—of a landmark international agreement for healthcare: the World Trade Organization’s “Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.” Cloatre takes seriously the idea of TRIPS as a technology in Bruno Latour’s […]

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Susan ByrneLaw and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote

January 29, 2015

Please listen to the fascinating conversation I had with Susan Byrne, Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Spanish at Yale University, about her new work, Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote (University of Toronto Press, 2013). Byrne leads us through a close reading of Cervantes’ most famous work, revealing an […]

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Jan LemnitzerPower, Law and the End of Privateering

January 22, 2015

Jan Lemnitzer’s new book Power, Law and the End of Privateering (Palgrave, 2014) offers an exciting new take on the relationship between law and power, exposing the delicate balance between great powers and small states that is necessary to create and enforce norms across the globe. The 1856 Declaration of Paris marks the precise moment when […]

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Kenneth PrewittWhat Is Your Race?: The Census and Our Flawed Efforts to Classify Americans

January 13, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Education] The US Census has been an important American institution for over 220 years. Since 1790, the US population has been counted and compiled, important figures when tabulating representation and electoral votes. The Census has also captured the racial make-up of the US and has become a powerful public policy tool with […]

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Frank PasqualeThe Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information

December 24, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Technology] Hidden algorithms make many of the decisions that affect significant areas of society: the economy, personal and organizational reputation, the promotion of information, etc. These complex formulas, or processes, are thought by many to be unbiased and impartial and, therefore, good for automated decision-making. Yet, recent scandals, as well as information […]

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Jothie RajahAuthoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore

December 15, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Southeast Asian Studies] In Authoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Jothie Rajah tells a compelling story of the rule of law as discourse and praxis serving illiberal ends. Through a series of case studies on legislation criminalizing vandalism and regulating the print media, legal profession, and religion […]

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John V. OrthSelf-Defense

November 24, 2014

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing my legal history professor at Carolina Law, John V. Orth about his short story Self-Defense (14 Green Bag 2D Autumn 2010). Orth, who is well known for his more traditional legal scholarship, has made a powerful venture into fiction.  The story, which begins by describing an ordinary daily […]

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