Food for Thought: Deconstruction and Justice

When analyzing Derrida’s claim, I would disagree with the statement “Deconstruction is Justice.”

Derrida’s claim “Deconstruction is Justice”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? I would disagree when examining Derrida’s claim we have to view what the author means by deconstruction, what he believes it to be is “unpredictable and without warning in the silenced, supplemental, marginal excluded, and degraded elements of text (P.171, Pavlich).” Derrida explains in details how language and communication are a major focal point in law and how that misunderstanding others provides alternate meanings to what was initially trying to be communicated.

I would have to argue that deconstruction in the world of justice is a means to break down ideals which no longer hold substance or value in our lives; it is no longer the norm. This process of deconstruction is taken step-by-step and is predictable with trends in society and people become socially aware of what is taking place, and why a law or ruling is removed or modified.

When Derrida is looking at the deconstruction of law he uses his three unavoidable paradoxes that enable law to become fully examinable. First there is an irreconcilable paradox that attends to the ‘decisions of the judge’; to be just, a decision cannot simply follow a rule; it has to be more and by offering a fresh decision that treats each case in inquire terms. Secondly an undecidable, illimitable, and incalculable justice haunts all limited, calculated, legal decisions.  Finally, justice is never presentable, it urgently calls for calculation

My thoughts on the three paradoxes is that rules aren’t necessarily decided by the judge, but that they try to help shape the rule to what its natural state is supposed to be. By this I mean judges help give the contexts to what the law is and how it’s defined to people within society. I disagree with the second paradox as well, in which the limitation on which we set law is defined by social norms which we as community define; there is no set of laws that supress the will of the people, because the limitation is set by the people. I agree with the third paradox in which law is constantly evolving and continues to evolve needs to be added on or removed upon depending the state of society and its interactions which are or aren’t socially accepted depending on culture, people, ideology, and time frame.

My overall thoughts on how Derrida deconstructs law is arguable as in-between.  There are many points I agree with and also disagree with. The concepts of language and communication of law is open to a lot of interpretation of what is possible.

Pavlich (2011) – Chapter 11 – Just Events: Law and Society


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One response to “Food for Thought: Deconstruction and Justice

  1. This is an interesting response to the question, and I am glad to see that you have engaged critically with Derrida’s ideas.

    Regarding your response to Derrida’s paradoxes of law:

    You say that you disagree with the first paradox, but you do not explain why. Your remarks seem to acknowledge the paradox that Derrida highlights. Judges are expected to be the ultimate authorities in the application of the rule of law, but legal decisions – especially in the common law tradition and especially in ‘hard cases’ or cases characterized by social change – also create and modify rules.

    Regarding the second paradox, you note that “there is no set of laws that supress the will of the people, because the limitation is set by the people”.

    I would like to see this explained in greater detail. Note that the paradox, as presented by Derrida, is that the limited, calculable legal decision must reference unlimited, incalculable justice. In other words, decisions that are concrete and fixed are made in the name of something that is inherently ephemeral.

    But with regards to your point, it seems to imply that all law-making and law-enforcing is an expression of democratic will, and that it is therefore impossible for these processes to overreach the ‘will of the people’. Is this correct?