|| Law and Objectivity
|| Kent Greenawalt
||Oxford University Press, Inc., ©1992
2001 Evans Road
Cary, NC 27513
This 288-page book is divided into three sections, each with three or four chapters. It has extensive footnotes at the end of the book, a list of references, and an index.
Whether the law is objective, fair, and even handed is an issue for all citizens. This detailed and balanced analysis of the question comes down on the side of maintaining the law is, or can be, objective. The author also makes a rather circumspect case for maintaining the law should be objective. Along the way there is a careful and personalized presentation of the opposing viewpoints that seek a standard other than objectivity. An illustration is the treatment of the feminist critique of modern law which claims that law favors dominant groups, particularly men. The feminist view also holds that the law fails to perceive values that
flow from women's conditions. However, the more significant claim is that men and women differ in how they think about moral issues. While acknowledging the importance of individual, subjective reality, the end of the analysis is that some activities call for more principled approaches than others. Law is one of them.
While it is not stated directly, underlying the reasoned argument in this book is the understanding that citizens expect the law to be fair, impartial, and objective. The best way to accomplish this is to rely upon general principles and to hold there are correct answers available to legal questions. This is the burden of the last chapter. For those who are concerned with criticisms and attacks upon the legal system and the way jurisprudence thinks about the law, this book is a thorough, helpful, and worthwhile presentation of the major issues. It defends the core of traditional jurisprudence while attempting to
find ways to respond to valid criticisms and concerns. Judges, attorneys, law enforcement, and citizens who support an objective approach to law can benefit from reading this book.
Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota.