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Who are Law's Persons? From Cheshire Cats to Responsible Subjects

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Abstract:

What is it to be a legal person? A review of the jurisprudence of persons reveals considerable confusion about this central legal question, as well as deep intellectual divisions. To certain jurists, law's person should and does approximate a metaphysical person. Depending on the metaphysics of the jurist, the legal person is thus variously defined by his uniquely human nature, by his possession of a soul, or by his capacity for reason, and therefore his moral and legal responsibility. To other jurists, law's person is not a metaphysical person but rather a pure legal abstraction; he is no more than a formal, abstract, but nonetheless highly convenient device of law. This paper endeavours to bring some order and clarity to these scholarly debates about the nature of legal personality. It also considers their implications for feminist legal theorists, with their enduring interest in the character of law's subject.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.6603002

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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