Eszter does it right. Rather than participate in the electronic equivalent of a chain letter and “tag” five people to spread a dare, she open sources it at Grab the nearest book.
As far as I know, no one has tagged me with this blog meme, but I’m still going to participate as it looks fun.
1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
2. Open to p. 123.
3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
5. Tag five people.
Of course it helps that her book is cool.
Nearest book as I sit at my coffee table at home: The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloé Doutre-Roussel.
Since I wasn’t tagged for this meme, I guess I don’t have to tag anyone else either although I invite people to grab the nearest book and post the specified three sentences here or on their own blogs.
Mine is much less cute. The nearest book to hand as I read Eszter's invitation was a collection called Rediscovering Fuller (Willem J. Witteveen and Wibren van der Burg, eds.). It is an impressive set of thoughtful essays by the likes of David Dyzenhaus, Frederick Schauer, David Luban, Joseph Vining and many others. I'm reading it because my Jurisprudence class is heavily influenced by Fuller's work and has several of Fuller's essays among the readings. So far, Rediscovering Fuller is impressively clear, which is never a given in jurisprudence.
Page 123 happens to fall on the concluding page of “Fuller's Faith” by Paul Cliteur. The essay helps flesh out what Fuller was doing in The Morality of Law, characterizing it as a modest but persuasive attempt to deal with the difficulty (impossibility?) of describing a full theory of justice by instead describing what systemic features tend very strongly to injustice. Cliteur paraphrases Fuller as saying, “I do not know exactly what justice is, but I have a clear idea about what it is not. There are some values we have to incorporate in every legal system. If we fail in this respect, justice fails and the system crumbles down.” (p. 115) Some people find this sort of thing to be thin gruel. I find it to be true. (These are not necessarily inconsistent positions.)
The fifth-seventh sentences of page 123 take us within one sentence of the end, so I've included a bonus sentence too. But I have to say that because the ending is in no way a summary, but just a final thought, it fails to capture the spirit of the essay,
He [Bentham] believed that a legislature chosen by the broadest possible electorate was the institution most likely to produce laws that served the public welfare. This would leave judges and commentators little discretion in their interpretation and application.
So everybody has his own faith. I believe that faith as expounded in Fuller's work is certainly neither the most naive nor the least promising as far as the search for the principles of good government is concerned.
Feel free to post yours in the comments, or elsewhere. But don't 'tag' anyone, please.