Law, Boundaries, and the Bounded Self

Jennifer Nedelsky

in Law's Relations

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195147964
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918133 | DOI:
Law, Boundaries, and the Bounded Self

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Chapter 2 is about the centrality of the boundary metaphor in the conceptual structure of Anglo-American law and its relation to an underlying conception of the "bounded self." I argue for a new image of the self and a corresponding re-conception of the relation between the collective and the individual for which boundary is not an apt metaphor. This chapter explores the rejection of boundary, and points toward an alternative language for the self, autonomy, and the rights that are to protect them. Beginning with the development of the conception of rights as limits (boundaries) in the early development of American Constitutionalism, I examine the pervasiveness of the boundary metaphor not only in law, but in other domains as well. I argue that the boundary metaphor consistently misdirects attention away from the relationships actually necessary to achieve values such as freedom and autonomy. I reject the argument that there is something essentially bounded about human beings and turn to a set of images of the deeply interconnected, relational self. These alternatives invite us to re-imagine the rhetoric of law and freedom.

Keywords: self; boundary; individual and collective; American Constitutionalism; metaphor; autonomy; interconnected self

Chapter.  14335 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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