WWS Calendar

LAPA Seminar - A Social Psychological Interpretation of the Hermeneutic of Suspicion in Contemporary American Legal Thought

Mar 26, 2018 04:30PM to 06:00PM
301 Marx Hall


Open to the Public
Duncan Kennedy, Harvard Law School. Commentator: Kim Lane Scheppele, Sociology, WWS, and University Center for Human Values

LAPA's seminar format encourages attendees to familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator opens the session by summarizing the main themes inthe paper and presenting some topics for discussion.

Copies of the seminar paper will be available about 10 before the event, during regular business hours at the LAPA offices on the 3rd floor of Wallace Hall. 

Precis: According to many observers, policy discourses that claim specialized expertise and sometimes dispose significant ideological stakes are increasingly politicized.  One symptom is that experts within the discourse attack each other for supposed ideologically motivated errors in interpreting the materials, whatever they are.  The paper describes the way this practice has evolved in law, understood here as a policy discourse similar and different from the others.  It theorizes mutual accusations of ideological bias as an aspect of the general juridification of American society, economy and politics, and also as a social psychologically plausible response to the deep ethical difficulties in being the expert master of a practically consequential “mystery.”

This paper is a chapter in J.Desautels-Stein & C.Tomlins, eds., Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought (Cambridge Univ. Press 2017)


Duncan Kennedy is the Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence Emeritus at Harvard Law School where he taught Low Income Housing Law and Policy, Law and Development, and globalization of law, along with courses in the sociology of law and the history of legal thought.  He was one of the founding members of the critical legal studies movement, a left-of-liberal academic activist movement that flourished from around 1975 to 1995.


More information: Contact Judi Rivkin, jrivkin@princeton.edu