Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The chapter argues that law and the Rule of Law do not displace moral sentiments, but rather require them, and sometimes produce them. Law gives us some sense of physical security and thereby makes possible the fellow feeling and empathy that are the root of moral action. The chapter seeks to make this claim plausible by looking at fiction that describes various dystopian lawless states, including the hierarchy of the Church, which law has been loath to enter, badly policed neighborhoods, nineteenth century American slavery, and early twentieth century patriarchal marriages. One lesson of much of this fiction is that these lawless dystopias not only leave their inhabitants with nasty, brutish and short lives, but also truncate their capacities for empathy and community.

Publication Citation

Robin West, Law’s Sentiments, in Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Law and Emotion (Susan A. Bandes, Jody Lynee Madeira, Kathryn Temple and Emily Kidd White eds. 2020, Forthcoming).