Law and Freedom in Tragedy and Philosophy

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2007

Project Description/Abstract

The tension and conflicts between the rule of law and the requirements of human freedom are not recent discoveries. The Greek tragedians explored these issues millennia ago, recognizing that philosophical problems could make affecting drama. In “Antigone,” for instances, Sophocles explores the ramifications of one woman’s decisions to disobey the law in order to follow moral standards, and what this says about the value of autonomous moral judgement. In his “Oresteia” trilogy, Aeschylus explores the importance of the rule of law for a stable social order, one which eschews vengeful retribution. Both seem to have a valid point, but his highlights the philosophical problem: what is the relationship of law to a free society? How should individual judgements of morality be regarded relative to the necessity of legal order? My work will explore these questions by way of responding to these tragedies and a variety of philosophical writings that treat them explicitly.

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