Monday, April 23, 2018

Desautels-Stein on American Pragmatism and Liberal Legal Thought

Justin Desautels-Stein, University of Colorado Boulder, has published The Jurisprudence of Style: A Structuralist History of American Pragmatism and Liberal Legal Thought in the Cambridge University Press series, series Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society, edited by Christopher L. Tomlins.
In the contemporary domain of American legal thought there is a dominant way in which lawyers and judges craft their argumentative practice. More colloquially, this is a dominant conception of what it means to "think like a lawyer."  Despite the widespread popularity of this conception, it is rarely described in detail or given a name. Justin Desautels-Stein tells the story of how and why this happened, and why it matters. Drawing upon and updating the work of Harvard Law School's first generation of critical legal studies, Desautels-Stein develops what he calls a jurisprudence of style. In doing so, he uncovers the intellectual alliance, first emerging at the end of the nineteenth century and maturing in the last third of the twentieth century, between American pragmatism and liberal legal thought. Applying the tools of legal structuralism and phenomenology to real-world cases in areas of contemporary legal debate, this book develops a practice-oriented understanding of legal thought.
Here are some endorsements:
"In this wide-ranging and masterful work, Justin Desautels-Stein explores, dissects, and critiques what it means to think like a lawyer in today’s hegemonic context of liberal legal thought. Drawing on art history and musicology, ranging from the anthropologist Philippe Descola to the philosopher Hubert Dreyfus, from Roland Barthes to Michel Foucault, Desautels-Stein creatively reinvigorates the Harvard School of legal structuralism to expose the deep historical, structural, and conceptual illusions of contemporary pragmatic legal liberal thought."  Bernard E. Harcourt, Columbia Law School 
"An engrossing, at times deeply moving effort to recover the unity and purpose of Critical Legal Studies."  Charles Sabel, Columbia Law School

"A fascinating contribution to critical legal thought in the United States. Desautels-Stein revisits and reinterprets American legal pragmatism alongside late twentieth century efforts to assess and critique its practice. His direct informal style brings complex theoretical debates to life."  David Kennedy, Harvard Law School
TOC after the jump.

Part I - Legal Structuralism
    1 - The Rise and Fall of the Harvard School
    2 - Toward a Jurisprudence of Style
    3 - The Context of Legal Thought

Part II - Liberal Legal Thought
    4 - The Classical Style
    5 - The Modern Style
    6 - Liberal Legalism and the Context of Legal Thought

Part III - Pragmatic Liberalism
    7 - American Pragmatism
    8 - Liberal Legalism Is Dead; Long Live Liberal Legalism
    9 - Trompe l'Oeil Liberalism