Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Courts and ethicists

You know, I have always been somewhat dismissive of the law as a good means to take forward political causes. I always thought one needed to win the substantive normative argument first, and then, somehow, miraculously the law would fall into line. Well, while I worked in South Africa for a couple of years, the Treatment Action Campaign there gave me much food for thought. They used legal cases to advance usually sensible policy matters. Of course, sometimes the law can be an ass and nothing can be achieved by means of suing one's way through the courts, but there are two cases reported today that suggest that sometimes at least the legal route just might be the more efficient way to achieve particular ethical or policy objectives.

The first case could best be described as: Whales: 1, US Navy: 0. Check it out here.
The second case I reported about on this blog. I learned today that Novartis lost its case in the Indian High Court.

Mind you, none of this shows that critical analysis and argument are not called for, but equally it seems fair to say that in some circumstances a good team of lawyers can replace a lot of academic papers and books and campaign officers, if one is concerned about achieving desireable outcomes at all.

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