This book is about what makes law possible. A stranger to contemporary legal practice might think such a book unnecessary, but the eight authors of this book share the view that what makes law possible is under siege today. The authors also share the hope that by exploring how law is a humanistic practice that involves whole persons, the siege will be reversed. The pathbreaking work of University of Michigan Law professor Joseph Vining provides the authors’ focus for their varied analyses of how law works not through force but, instead, through affinity.
Vining’s four books and other writings, spanning four decades, reveal the hidden connections by which men and women freely create and sustain a world of meaning through the phenomena we associate with law. Drawing on legal philosophy, theology, musicology, and other humanistic disciplines, the authors join Vining in discovering how law is, as Vining has written, “evidence of view and belief far stronger than academic statement or introspection can provide.” Law as Vining and the other authors reveal it is evidence of our better selves, not of the totalizing and brutalizing selves humans are capable of becoming, sometimes even under cover of law.
In addition to the three editors, the book’s authors are Joseph Vining, Rev. John McCausland, Hon. John T. Noonan, Jr., Steven Smith, and James Boyd White.
Lawyers and all who care about law, the human future, and what human freedom can do to connect person to person as valued will find much to ponder in the chapters of this book. By avoiding jargon and the cliché, the authors follow Vining’s lead in illuminating the deep springs of law’s vitality and authority.