Author Archives: meghanknilsson

“Deconstruction, Justice and Law”

Explain, in your own words, the meaning of Derrida’s claim “Deconstruction is Justice”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain.

When Derrida is explaining the concept of “deconstruction is justice,” firstly we need to look at what makes up this concept. Law is not justice. Law is a calculation that makes decisions in the present but they are always made within a sense of justice.  Law and justice work mutually together. The process of law is to make decisions that are just. Justice is incalculable. Justice appears though law and its given decisions. Deconstruction relies on the existence of human values that transcend any given culture. Justice is human values. Subjects of justice are those who can feel and experience justice and injustice. Deconstruction is relevant to justice because we can deconstruct the boundaries of who we consider a proper subject of justice. With human nature we limit the subjects of justice, but with the concept of deconstruction, we are able to question those limitations, leaving more and more subjects, (women, children and animals) to be treated with justice other than white, European men.

With deconstruction resting on the existence of human values, and justice being a human value, it is fair to say that not all will have the same definition for what is justice. Each individual will  of what justice really is. And through time and from culture to culture, ideas change and justice is never fixed. Justice is not a settled concept.

I agree with Derrida’s concept, “deconstruction is justice.” With each individual having their own ideas and thoughts of what is justice, one may feel like justice has been brought forth, where another may feel like justice wasn’t served. Justice will have a different meaning through out time and through out culture.Just like deconstruction, justice is an open-ended term. Deconstruction is justice.


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Camps and KIHC : How They Differ.

How does the theorization of KIHC presented by Larsen and Piché in their Canadian Journal of Law and Society article differ from Agamben’s theorization of the camp?

Agamben’s theorization of the camp is that shows as a model that helps understand the extremely sad and degrading life form that some where exposed too. It is an example of sovereign ban over bare life excluding it from the protection of law. It focused mainly on a generalization of normalized states of exception. State of exception is the suspension of law and legal norms. A concentration camp and a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, are examples of people who have ‘bare life’, but they are not recognized as having ethically significant life. They are individuals that can be objected to torture and killed with out questioning.

In the KIHC case it was more of specific circumstances of how things were run and the and the institutionalized policies. KIHC and security certificates are examples of Canada’s national security measures that were taken post September 11th, these were states of exception. For the case of KIHC the concept of counter law brought forward by Richard Ericson, describes the use of laws against law. The institution was able to run within a state of exceptions that would detain these individuals indefinitely.

When looking at Agamben’s state of exception and it being normalized by using the example of camps to hold as a physical space that allows the power to displace the rule of law in order to solve certain problems and comparing it to Larsen and Piche’s state of exception that focuses on institutionalized, I believe that the help of Agamben’s work, and expanding on it with Larsen and Piche’s ideas we tend to explain more about the matter of state of exception. “Organizations are distorted (concentration camps or KIHC) by states of exception carried out under the politics of insecurity.” Larsen and Piché, 2009.

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Durkheim: Crime is Normal

Durkheim’s sociology of law proposes that crime is a normal part of society, and that it is necessary and indispensable. What does this mean? Is Durkheim correct? Discuss, with reference to contemporary examples.

Durkheim believes that crime is a normal part of society and it is necessary because it is omnipresent across time and space. All societies have and do experience crime. Thus having crime as such a common action, one may say it is normal to have. What is seen as a crime in some societies may differ from others. What constitutes a crime is something culturally relative rather than universal. It strives from what is found to be moral or not. A crime is a crime because it offends our moral views. “Public reactions to crime can bring a community closer together and subsequently reinforce social norms and increase social consensus.” (Pavlich, 2011, p.72) Simply put, society draws upon the moral advantages offered by crime. If crime does not occur then it is impossible for a society to define its own moral boundaries. With out this there would not be social consensus, which is needed to hold a society together.

Durkheim also notes that, “ crime may or may not be useful, but it is ‘normal because it is linked to the fundamental conditions of all social life; such is the case because there cannot be a society where individuals do not diverge more or less from the collective type and because, among these divergences, there are no less inevitably some which exhibit a criminal character’ (Durkheim, 1983: 95-6), (Pavalich, 2011, p.79).

I agree with Durkheim when he says that in all societies there  is crime. I find it hard to think of a functioning society with zero criminal activity when people are born into certain lifestyles that involve committing crimes to survive or committing crimes is a way of life. People will sometimes do  what ever it takes to meet the needs of survival, needs or wants. An example is stealing. There are some that steal to gain items of material goods (jewelry) but then there are those who steal to survive (food). Either of them are willing to commit a crime to get what they need or want, which goes against most moralistic values that stealing is wrong. Having this idea makes it easier for us to punish those who do wrong, which hold our social moral values together, making our society strong.


Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

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