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Law's Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society (Moral Traditions series) Paperback – September 20, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Moral Traditions series
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press (September 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589019326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589019324
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A rich and, finally, polemical commentary on how Americans committed to Catholic teaching should respond morally and jurisprudentially to certain new moral problems." -- Journal of Religion



"Thought provoking." -- Choice



"Moving beyond the 'culture wars' model of political engagement, Cathleen Kaveny digs deep in Law's Virtues to deliver a must read for anyone who cares about the relationship of law and morality in our pluralistic society." -- America Magazine



"Cathleen Kaveny, a moral theologian and law professor, writes this book from the perspectives of a pro-life commitment and acceptance of some moral teaching function for law, and a deep respect for our pluralistic representative democracy with its recognition of individual freedom. Her scholarly, thoughtful, well-written, balanced exposition of the complex issue of the role of law and its application to the burning issues of abortion, euthanasia, and genetics is must reading for all those interested in this contemporary discussion." -- Charles Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University



"Through an impressive analysis that draws on her scholarly training in law and theology, Kaveny argues for a more nuanced view of how law can function as a moral teacher in a pluralistic society, reminding us that good lawmaking is practical, not merely theoretical, and the laws we make must teach lessons to ordinary people, not saints." -- Vincent Rougeau, dean, Boston College Law School



"Seeing and championing the view that the law incorporates and inculcates morality, Kaveny balances this insight with realistic recognition of the limitations of law in a society marked by moral controversies. Intelligently, vigorously, and very specifically, she charts a course between legal laissez-faire and moral absolutism." -- John T. Noonan Jr., Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit



"Cathleen Kaveny's Law's Virtues offers a lively, carefully nuanced, freshly creative approach to law and morality in a pluralistic society. Here is a major contribution to substantive dialogue and debate on controversial issues, and a welcome model of respect for conversation partners." -- Margaret Farley, Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics, Yale University Divinity School



"Cathleen Kaveny's Law's Virtues is a wonderful book. It makes a clear, rich, nuanced, and compelling case for law's function as a moral teacher in a pluralistic society." -- James F. Childress, University Professor and Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics, University of Virginia



" Law's Virtues is an important and timely book. As the US faces another presidential election, the fundamental questions Kaveny addresses about the relationship between law, moral theology, and political action will loom large before the public. In lucid prose, she explicates a convincing, broadly Thomistic theory of 'the law as teacher' and applies that theory to such vexing questions as abortion, euthanasia, and genetic testing. Moreover, she provides a truly traditional understanding of such misunderstood and frequently abused terms as 'intrinsic evil' and 'immoral cooperation.' Kaveny helps us to understand what it means for voting to be a moral act, and how to navigate our way through the culture wars using sound theology as a compass. This will be an important book to read during this election season and in the years to come." -- Daniel Sulmasy, MD, PhD, University of Chicago



"True to her title, the author aims to model ways to think of law as a teacher of virtue in a pluralistic society, thereby melding Aquinas' classical reflection on virtue with the rich way legal theorist Joseph Raz assesses autonomy, enriched by John Paul II on solidarity. A tall order executed elegantly in prose accessible to all while deftly clarifying distinctions, expressly to counter the way ethical tools (like 'intrinsically evil') have been harnessed to misleading rhetorical use in 'culture wars' rather than used to illuminate taxing ethical issues. This painstaking study of the ways ethics and law intersect invites an illuminating exchange between theory and practice to guide citizens in voting as well as ethicists in assessing." -- David Burrell, CSC, Hesburgh Professor emeritus, University of Notre Dame

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a JD and a PhD in religious ethics from Yale University. She is a regular columnist for Commonweal.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julie Balamut on February 20, 2013
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Dr. Kaveny's book is a welcome addition to the discussion of how Americans have viewed and interpreted civil law mostly as prevention from doing wrong, "law as policemen," a view argued recently by Joel Feinberg. Unlike the "law as policeman" model, she suggests that we look at our current way of making and interpreting our laws as "law leading to virtue." Instead of punishing doing wrong and viewing law as strictly puntative, she uses the model that Aquinas offers where the pursuit of the virtue of justice, promoting the common good should be considered in creating and interpreting our laws. Her argument is compelling, practical, and positive, as we continue to face the absolute deadlock we have reached as a society regarding such continuing hot button issues as abortion laws and euthanasia. Dr. Kaveny offers solid expertise both as a leading attorney and as a well-regarded theologian. She also weighs equally the importance of the legal and ethical issues of autonomy and nicely, I think, brings in John Paul II's proclamation on solidary; the idea that as humans we need to work together to see the unjustices placed on the marginalized and work together as people of faith and as Americans to solve these unjustices, while not infringing on equally compelling individual rights.

Like the clear, concise thinker she is, she presents the history and arguments for the ways we have dealt with our laws in the past and in many ways the present, and intelligently points out her views of the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Homer on October 30, 2012
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I had to pick this up for a class I'm taking this semester, and I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised by how thought provoking it is. I went into it thinking I'd read about some crazy religious ideas regarding to how we should live moral lives, but it takes a very realistic and down to earth approach. If you want to learn about all sides of different issues, whether you agree with them or not, this is worth the read.
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It was a thorough analysis from within the Catholic tradition. Professor Kaveny is speaking to secular legal theorists and to conservative Catholics who see that one issue should take precedence in our political discourse. Again agree with her or disagree with her, every informed Catholic should read this book. It will inform your thinking and you will develop your own theological developments within a political and legal context. Professor's Kaveny's approach to law will be in contrast to the liberal theory often embraced by political liberals and libertarians. However, it is much worth the time and effort to read through.
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By Mben on April 5, 2014
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The book was new and reached me in good shape. I enjoyed reading it; it is written in clear language. Prof. Kaveny is really an astute author! I will definitely recommend it for people interested in philosophy of law, or in law in general.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter P. Fuchs on February 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book, to judge from what I can read here, has a better tone than most moral/legal theory books produced by Catholics nowadays. That is no small thing, and worth commenting on. But I always wonder how anyone is really supposed to take seriously the contention that the author is somehow not putting forth a view that is, as she writes, "endorsed by a religious...authority." It is in the very nature of the rational tradition like that Of Isidore of Seville and Thomas Aquinas, who are the lodestars of this effort from the start, to be based in the authority of Catholic revelation. This is not an optional or detachable part of the tradition. Catholic theorists have a right to believe that it is in someway useable in a more generic sense, even by those who do not share those ideas on revelation. Yet they do NOT have the right to require that others should accept as coherent that a legal tradition that was and is heavily belief-based should be accepted for more general use. And also note that had the election gone the other way that is precisely what might be happening right now, with nicely-toned works of studied inoffensiveness used as grids for a more didactic morality of their choice. Please note, even if they happen to agree with some or even most of the arguments, which some might, There is the essential wrench for Catholic views on this matter, and it seems essentially insuperable for many who do not accept the parameters. The author seems to think it is just about explaining differing "premises" No, it is more basic than that, and devolves to a matter of what counts as coherent. One might agree with plenty in such a book, and still find the basic Thomstic base incoherent for this society. Period.Read more ›
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