Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cultures of Conflict Resolution in Early Modern Europe

Stephen Cummings & Laura Kounine (eds.) (Max Planck Institute for Human Development), Cultures of Conflict Resolution in Early Modern Europe (Rutledge 2016).

"Disputes, discord and reconciliation were fundamental parts of the fabric of communal living in early modern Europe. This edited volume presents essays on the cultural codes of conflict and its resolution in this period under three broad themes: peacemaking as practice; the nature of mediation and arbitration; and the role of criminal law in conflicts. Through an exploration of conflict and peacemaking, this volume provides innovative accounts of state formation, community and religion in the early modern period."

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Finding Consciousness

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.) (Duke University),  Finding Consciousness (Oxford Univ. Press 2016).

"Modern medicine enables us to keep many people alive after they have suffered severe brain damage and show no reliable outward signs of consciousness. Many such patients are misdiagnosed as being in a permanent vegetative state when they are actually in a minimally conscious state. This mistake has far-reaching implications for treatment and prognosis. To alleviate this problem, neuroscientists have recently developed new brain-scanning methods to detect consciousness in some of these patients and even to ask them questions, including "Do you want to stay alive?"

Finding Consciousness: The Neuroscience, Ethics, and Law of Severe Brain Damage addresses many questions regarding these recent neuroscientific methods: Is what these methods detect really consciousness? Do patients feel pain? Should we decide whether or not to let them die or are they competent to decide for themselves? And which kinds of treatment should governments and hospitals make available? This edited volume provides contextual information, surveys the issues and positions, and takes controversial stands from a wide variety of prominent contributors in fields ranging from neuroscience and neurology to law and policy to philosophy and ethics. Finding Consciousness should interest not only neuroscientists, clinicians, and ethicists but anyone who might suffer brain damage, which includes us all."
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Authors in Court: Scenes from the Theater of Copyright

Mark Rose (University of California, Santa Barbara), Authors in Court (Harvard University Press 2016).

"Through a series of vivid case studies, Authors in Court charts the 300-year-long dance between authorship and copyright that has shaped each institution’s response to changing social norms of identity, privacy, and celebrity. Authors’ self-presentations in court are often inflected by prevailing concepts of propriety and respectability. And judges, for their part, have not been immune to the reputation and standing of the authors who have appeared before them in legal dramas.

Some authors strut their roles on the public stage. For example, Napoleon Sarony—the nineteenth-century photographer whose case established that photographs might be protected as works of art—was fond of marching along Broadway dressed in a red fez and high-top campaign boots, proclaiming his special status as a celebrity. Others, such as the reclusive J. D. Salinger, enacted their dramas precisely by shrinking from attention. Mark Rose’s case studies include the flamboyant early modern writer Daniel Defoe; the self-consciously genteel poet Alexander Pope; the nineteenth-century abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe; the once-celebrated early twentieth-century dramatist Anne Nichols, author of Abie’s Irish Rose; and the provocative contemporary artist Jeff Koons.

These examples suggest not only how social forms such as gender and gentility have influenced the self-presentation of authors in public and in court but also how the personal styles and histories of authors have influenced the development of legal doctrine."

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Private Wrongs

Arthur Ripstein (University of Toronto), Private Wrongs (Harvard Univ. Press 2016).

"A waiter spills hot coffee on a customer. A person walks on another person’s land. A moored boat damages a dock during a storm. A frustrated neighbor bangs on the wall. A reputation is ruined by a mistaken news report. Although the details vary, the law recognizes all of these as torts, different ways in which one person wrongs another. Tort law can seem puzzling: sometimes people are made to pay damages when they are barely or not at fault, while at other times serious losses go uncompensated. In this pioneering book, Arthur Ripstein brings coherence and unity to the baffling diversity of tort law in an original theory that is philosophically grounded and analytically powerful.

Ripstein shows that all torts violate the basic moral idea that each individual is in charge of his or her own person and property, and never in charge of another individual’s person or property. Battery and trespass involve one person wrongly using another’s body or things, while negligence injures others by imposing risks to them in ways that are inconsistent with their independence. Tort remedies aim to provide a substitute for the right that was violated.

As Private Wrongs makes clear, tort law not only protects our bodies and property but constitutes our entitlement to use them as we see fit, consistent with the entitlement of others to do the same."

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright since the Birth of Print

Neil Weinstock Netanel (UCLA), From Maimonides to Microsoft: The Jewish Law of Copyright since the Birth of Print (Oxford Univ. Press 2016).

"In From Maimonides to Microsoft, Professor Netanel traces the historical development of Jewish copyright law by comparing rabbinic reprinting bans with secular and papal book privileges and by relaying the stories of dramatic disputes among publishers of books of Jewish learning and liturgy. He describes each dispute in its historical context and examines the rabbinic rulings that sought to resolve it. Remarkably, the rabbinic reprinting bans and copyright rulings address some of the same issues that animate copyright jurisprudence today: Is copyright a property right or just a right to receive fair compensation? How long should copyrights last? What purposes does copyright serve? While Jewish copyright law has borrowed from its secular law counterpart at key junctures, it fashions strikingly different answers to those key questions."
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