The Authentic Judge: French Existentialism and the Judicial Role

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This article draws on the writings of the French existentialist philosopher
Jean-Paul Sartre to offer some insights about the judicial role. It begins by
exploring the existentially burdensome character of judging, making
reference to Sartre’s discussions of anguish and the moment of decision.
The article then examines why different judges approach the demands of
their role in contrasting ways, drawing on Sartre’s analysis of various forms
of bad faith [mauvaise foi]. The article concludes by sketching an ideal model
of the authentic judge, based on Sartre’s discussion of authentic love (or
‘love in the world’). The authentic judge accepts responsibility for her
decisions, without disclaiming her authority or denying the contingent nature
of her position. She recognises her inherent fallibility, while nonetheless
saying: ‘this is what I have chosen’.


Judges have a difficult and important job to do on behalf of the community.
Much ink has been spilt on how the judiciary should best approach its role.1
Fortunately, however, we need look no further for guidance on this question
than the writings of the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
Sartre offers us a compelling explanation of, first, what makes the judicial role
so difficult; second, why different judges approach the demands of the role in
contrasting ways; and, third, how the job should ideally be done. That, at any
rate, is what I propose to argue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-48
JournalAustralian Bar Review
Volume47
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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existentialism
judiciary
faith
love
responsibility
community

Cite this

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title = "The Authentic Judge: French Existentialism and the Judicial Role",
abstract = "This article draws on the writings of the French existentialist philosopherJean-Paul Sartre to offer some insights about the judicial role. It begins byexploring the existentially burdensome character of judging, makingreference to Sartre’s discussions of anguish and the moment of decision.The article then examines why different judges approach the demands oftheir role in contrasting ways, drawing on Sartre’s analysis of various formsof bad faith [mauvaise foi]. The article concludes by sketching an ideal modelof the authentic judge, based on Sartre’s discussion of authentic love (or‘love in the world’). The authentic judge accepts responsibility for herdecisions, without disclaiming her authority or denying the contingent natureof her position. She recognises her inherent fallibility, while nonethelesssaying: ‘this is what I have chosen’.Judges have a difficult and important job to do on behalf of the community.Much ink has been spilt on how the judiciary should best approach its role.1Fortunately, however, we need look no further for guidance on this questionthan the writings of the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.Sartre offers us a compelling explanation of, first, what makes the judicial roleso difficult; second, why different judges approach the demands of the role incontrasting ways; and, third, how the job should ideally be done. That, at anyrate, is what I propose to argue.",
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The Authentic Judge: French Existentialism and the Judicial Role. / Crowe, Jonathan.

In: Australian Bar Review, Vol. 47, 2019, p. 41-48.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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