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Book Review: Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law, 118 Harv. L. Rev. 2701 (2005)

Abstract

This is a book by a philosopher, on a subject of urgent importance to legal scholars. Yet the truth is that most legal scholars have not understood how urgent that subject is. The book is about the psychology of the darker and uglier emotions in the law: shame and disgust. Legal scholars have certainly had plenty to say about this topic. There has been a steady flow of literature on the emotions and the law, and in particular on shame and disgust, for the past decade or so.' Nevertheless, much of the legal debate has revolved around problems of strikingly minor importance in American criminal justice. In particular, we have had a lot of literature on a few colorful shaming penalties, like sentencing businessmen who urinate in public to scrub the streets with toothbrushes, or sentencing shoplifters to wear T-shirts announcing their offenses to the world.' It is no surprise that criminal law professors enjoy debating these shaming penalties - call them T-shirt and bumper-sticker sanctions. They are tailor-made for discussions of familiar classroom topics like communitarianism and "norms." Most of all, they make everybody titter. Who can resist that?

Date of Authorship for this Version

2005

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