Reviews of Dispassionate Judges Encountering Hot-headed Aristotelians

by Christof Rapp
(3 reviews)

Review by Cristina Viano on 30-01-2017

-the quality of the contribution .
Excellent. Rapp takes position in the current debate regarding the following question: do personal emotions, like anger, help a judge to judge correctly? Rapp clearly shows that Aristotle answers this question in the negative and that his position in the debate is quite different from the model of the righteously angry judge (RAJ), as theoretically elaborated by some neo-Aristotelians, like T. Maroney. Indeed, to understand Aristotle correctly, we must distinguish between the individual morality of the prudent man (phronimos), who maintains a correct relationship with passions and the professionality (ergon) of the good judge, who, on the contrary, to judge well, should not be under the influence of passions.


-the relation between the article and the research question.
The analysis of Rapp is of fundamental relevance for the research question Law and Emotion: it shows the true position of Aristotle by distinguishing it from certain neo-Aristotelian interpretations, which are too modern and simplified. In particular, at the end of his article, Rapp warns against the use of Aristotle as authoritative source on the basis of a selection of texts that are decontextualized.

-recommendations for improvement of the article .
It is excellent and I have no suggestions for amelioration.

Review by Ton Hol on 30-01-2017

The paper of Christof Rapp is publishable. It is written in a clear style, well reasoned, and about an interesting topic. It has a clear focus and its critical analysis adds to the ongoing debate.

I especially liked the second part (say, from section 5). I got rather ‘irritated’ reading sections 3 and 5. Although well analysed, I would be happy if these sections could be shortened. Having experience as a Judge for about 25 years, I do not recognize the ‘angry judge’. Judges hardly become angry. If they do, we think they are not professional. So, reading these sections made me ask whether the author (Maroney) knows what she is writing about. Professionals will have serious difficulty in recognising themselves in the emotion of anger. (Rapp makes clear why by the end of the paper. See his remarks on the crooked straightedge). The question of emotions in judicial decion making is however still important in the current debate. Mostly it is about showing or not something like feeling pity for the victim by the Judge, or whether it is only to the prosecutor and lawyer to refer to or show emotions. Bringing in the more complex setting of a trial in this way, would make it (even) more interesting to read the article. Because of the simplicity of Marony’s approach, I had an adverse emotion continuing reading the paper. The example of anger is not representative for judicial emotions, much too simple. Still, I liked the second part. It is well reasoned, and the standpoint is certainly defendable. Some more references to Aristotle’s texts would have been welcomed.

Review by author's response on 30-01-2017

I would like to thank the reviewers of my text very much for their helpful and friendly comments and suggestions. I have added references to Aristotle’s text.

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