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Latour and the Passage of Law$
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Kyle McGee

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748697908

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697908.001.0001

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date: 25 May 2020

On Devices and Logics of Legal Sense: Toward Socio-technical Legal Analysis

On Devices and Logics of Legal Sense: Toward Socio-technical Legal Analysis

Chapter:
(p.61) 3 On Devices and Logics of Legal Sense: Toward Socio-technical Legal Analysis
Source:
Latour and the Passage of Law
Author(s):

Kyle McGee

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697908.003.0004

Kyle McGee argues for the enrichment of socio-legal studies by re-evaluating the operation of rules in legal enunciation, particularly in the ‘judicial Umwelt’. Opposing the tendency to black-box legal rules, prevalent in doctrinal as well as critical or socio-legal research, McGee develops a new articulation of the content of law that would not, in his view, countenance the reduction of law to information. In a departure from his more exploratory book on Latour and legal theory, he focuses here on the means of formal legal speech, walking very slowly, ‘intolerably’ slowly, through the weeds of a US trial court’s opinion in a class lawsuit concerning injuries and property damage suffered by residents of a small community allegedly resulting from a chemical company’s pollution of nearby aquifers. Narrating the slow composition of a legal trajectory out of a multitude of non-legal actors and the court’s methodical de-stratification of complicated levels or planes of enunciation, McGee introduces the jurimorph as a semiotic tool for capturing the peculiar translation that must precede entry into the trajectory and which results in a new legal figure – a value-object or, in later stages, after certain trials have been met, an obligation. The litigants propose competing sequences of value-objects, each leading to the endorsement of their respective positions; the court must submit the virtual sequences to tests, and draws out, actualises, only one pathway of obligations leading to the instauration of a principle.

Keywords:   Actor-network theory, Jurimorph, Bruno Latour, Modes of existence, Class action, Environmental law, Semiotics of law

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