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Law embodied: re-imagining a material legal normativity

Zhu, Sally Shinan (2017) Law embodied: re-imagining a material legal normativity. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.mmhoj78eucd9


In this thesis I critique the modern tendency to construct the legal subject upon a sharp distinction between Reason and body and to ground the normative force of law on an ideal conception of Reason. The legal subject is thereby presented as a disembodied cogitans to the neglect of his corporeality. This disregards both the necessarily material aspect of the legal subject and the necessarily embodied aspect of legal action, and results in an inadequate account of how legal normativity is manifested in material reality. This thesis aims to construct a theory of material legal normativity by re-incorporating the body of the subject into legal action and presenting that as the proper locus of law’s normative force. Although I focus on the material body in favour of Reason or rationality as the locus of action, I do not dismiss the possibility of meaningful normative action which is free from determination by material forces. I aim to construct a theory of action which is both material and normative by navigating the opposition between ideal Reason and material determinism. I do this by proposing an alternative conception of normative action which draws together the mechanism of habit and the manner of interaction with the material world. This theory of normative action will then form the basis for an account of normative legal action which gives due weight to the embodied nature of the legal subject as the proper locus for the material manifestation of the normative force of law.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Sally Shinan Zhu
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Melissaris, Emmanuel and Wilkinson, Michael

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