The Laws of the Spirit

A Hegelian Theory of Justice

By Shannon Hoff

Subjects: Hegel, Political Philosophy, Philosophy, Political Theory, Philosophy Of Law
Paperback : 9781438450285, 309 pages, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781438450278, 309 pages, April 2014

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Table of contents

Note on the Text
Part 1. Law, Ethicality, and Forgiveness
1. Themes from “The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate”
2. The Immediacy of Ethical Life
3. The Right of Personhood
4. The Legal Conditions of Action
5. Law, Right, and Forgiveness
Conclusion to Part 1
Part 2. The Actuality and Practice of Law
6. The Ideal Nation and the Real Nation
7. Criminal Action
Conclusion to Part 2
Part 3. Hegel and Contemporary Political Life
8. The Politics of Liberalism
9. Hegel and the Politics of Recognition
Conclusion to Part 3
Conclusion: The Ethics and Politics of Conscience

An account of Hegel's political insights and their contemporary relevance.


Drawing from a variety of Hegel's writings, Shannon Hoff articulates a theory of justice that requires answering simultaneously to three irreducibly different demands: those of community, universality, and individuality. The domains of "ethicality," "legality," and "morality" correspond to these essential dimensions of human experience, and a political system that fails to give adequate recognition to any one of these will become oppressive. The commitment to legality emphasized in modern and contemporary political life, Hoff argues, systematically precludes adequate recognition of the formative cultural contexts that Hegel identifies under the name of "ethical life" and of singular experiences of moral duty, or conscience. Countering the perception of Hegel as a conservative political thinker and engaging broadly with contemporary work in liberalism, critical theory, and feminism, Hoff focuses on these themes of ethicality and conscience to consider how modern liberal politics must be transformed if it is to accommodate these essential dimensions of human life.

Shannon Hoff is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto.