Friday, February 25, 2005

Hollow Men

Everything that Steven Smith writes is interesting and provocative, as this is likely be:
Hollow Men: Law and the Declension of Belief

University of San Diego School of Law

February 2005

U San Diego Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-03

If believing is central to what makes us persons, then how do we react when our core beliefs come under serious challenge? The "purest" responses are probably to engage in responsible apologetics, defending our beliefs against the challenges, or else adjustment or relinquishment of our beliefs in accordance with what we come to understand the truth to be. Often, however, we resort to less "pure" responses. We "bend the truth" or "fudge the facts" to deflect challenges to our beliefs. Or, in a response that entails more implicit philosophical sophistication, we deflate our very conceptions of truth and belief: in this case, this essay suggests, we may continue to affirm propositions even though we no longer fully and in good faith believe them.

This essay, presented as part of a lecture series on "Christian Contributions to Contemporary Jurisprudence," argues that this last "declensionist" response produces a kind of hollowness in our personhood. The essay then explores manifestations of such declensionist strategies in modern thinking about the nature of law. It concludes by sketching some possible alternatives that Christian legal thinkers might take in response to such declension.
Stuart Buck


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