The emerging interdisciplinary field of “Law and Emotions” brings together scholars from law, psychology, classics, economics, literature and philosophy all of whom have a defining interest in law’s various relations to our emotions and to emotional life: they share a passion for law’s passions. They also share the critical premise, or assumption, that most legal scholars of at least the last half century, with a few exceptions, have mistakenly accorded too great of a role to reason, rationality, and the cool calculations of self interest, and have accorded too small a role to emotion, to the creation, the imagining, the generation, the interpretation, and the reception of law. Their scholarship is in part offered as a collective corrective to what they perceive as the legal academy’s dominant and ill-conceived bias toward reason and rationalism, when explaining legal phenomena.
In my comments this morning, however, I want to pose a question that I believe has been neglected by law and emotions scholars, and I will urge that we center it. To summarize my criticism: Law and Emotions scholars have looked at emotion’s impact on law and on our understanding of justice, and at law’s impact on emotional life, and have done so to great effect. What they, or we, haven’t much to date investigated, however, are the emotions law produces, or authors, or sires, or births, or fathers – the emotions that law itself generates, rather than the emotions that affect law or the emotions that law affects.
19 Rich. J.L. & Pub. Int. 339 (2016)
Scholarly Commons Citation
West, Robin, "Law's Emotions" (2016). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 1911.