Astral legal justice: Between law’s poetry and justice’s dance

South African Journal of Philosophy 42 (2):108-116 (2023)
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In this article, I build on my recent conceptions of law as poetry and of justice as dance by articulating three new conceptions of the relationship between law and justice. In the first, “poetry-based justice”, justice consists of a rigid choreography to a kind of musical recitation of the law’s poetry. In the second, “dancing-based law”, justice consists of spontaneous, freely improvised movement patterns that the poetry of the law tries to capture in a kind of musical notation. And in the third, “reciprocal-legal justice”, justice and law consist of a reciprocally determining artistic collaboration between the democratic dancing masses and the aristocratic poetising elites. Given that each of these predominates in one of three types of community, I then present a reclassification of right-leaning, centrist and leftist societies as dominated by “literalist”, “kinetic” and “mutualist” communities (respectively), and offer suggestions for legislators and activists working in each type. In conclusion, law and justice, qua poetry and dance, become more flexible, inclusive and open to creative improvising and collaboration, a new form that I name, after Astraea, Greek goddess of divine justice, “astral legal justice”.

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Joshua M. Hall
University of Alabama, Birmingham


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